Gender Equality For Improving was a training course held in Spain, Vilegarcia de Arousa Province between 30.10.2018 and 07.10.2018. I had already participated in a youth exchange programme but this was my first training course experience; therefore, before going to Spain I had been quite excited.
Spain, Poland, Romania, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Lebanon were the participating countries and each country was represented by 2 participants. The aim of the project was to raise awareness about importance of gender equality, especially in the areas of discrimination, violence against women and normalized sexist behaviours. All these issues were treated through interactive activities. For instance, after getting to know each other much better on the first day, we started to have discussions about these themes on the second day and these discussions continued until the end of the project. Each country made presentations about gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and domestic violence. Without any doubt, this part was the most informative and interesting for both the participants and the organizers. Since I did not have any particular opinion about the gender equality in the participating countries before, I have learnt so much different information in terms of not only the gender equality but cultures of these countries. That Maltese housewives can retire and get pension is new information for all non-Maltese participants and organizers. The organizers also introduced and explained the terms related to gender equality such as transgender, asexual, and more. It turned out only few participants had knowledge about these terms and most participants mentioned they heard these terms first time in their lives, which shows us a ignorance of societies.
I would like to talk about another issue that makes me feel uncomfortable and I have not found a good solution. Even though it is an unacceptable situation, during the discussions I realized that most women in Turkey have been unwittingly say sexist things. However Turkey is not only country to face with this situation. Since it is normalized, other participating countries stated if they want to humiliate someone they prefer feminine words, and most swearing words include women’s body parts, as in Turkey.
What impressed me most throughout the project was attitudes of different countries about the gender equality. Thanks to the project I have learnt some countries show positive attitudes to gender equality; on the other hand, some just show positive attitude in theory not in practise. The reason why some governments and states do not want to change this approach is that most countries consist of patriarchy societies. We discussed about what should be done in order to demolish the idea of patriarchy. A possible solution of this problem underlies governments’ behaviours. If governments take a step and raise awareness of gender equality, I believe that everything starts to change.
On the other hand, we have met new cultures. On the city challenge day we made groups of four from different countries. Our goal was to take photos where our organizers sent the photos of these places us before. Throughout the city challenge, we talked about our lives and discussed each other but in a positive way. Everybody always listened to the other one and showed respect to each other. Our team was ranked at the first place at the end of the day. Additionally, during the training course we presented our cultures and traditions, countries, music, dances, etc. in intercultural evenings.
In a nutshell, we have many different gains at the end of the project and have implemented project objectives. I returned to Turkey with a better knowledge of gender equality. We analysed sexist behaviours that we reproduce and different forms of the violence against women. I have developed my soft skills and organisational skills throughout the project. We should act together in order to raise awareness of gender equality and I would like to create local projects about gender equality with the help of my organisation.