Authors: Ewelina Ciaputa, Paulina Sekuła, Ewa Krzaklewska and Marta Warat
The Community of Practice for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe (GEinCEE CoP) has been officially created in May 2019 as a response to particular needs of gender equality practitioners and scholars in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) that included: lack of support from organization’s management, gender know-how, regular monitoring of gender equality status quo, strategies to overcome resistance and financial resources. Those needs were voiced during several local encounters (2 meetings in Krakow and 1 meeting in Warsaw held in 2018 and 2019) organized by the Jagiellonian University within the ACT Project framework and an international ACT meeting (1st Synergy Conference in Brussels in 2019) that aimed at gathering for advice in relation to CoP creation, its potential aims and regional focus.
The GEinCEE CoP’s mission is to promote and support institutional change to advance gender equality in higher education institutions (HEIs) and research performing organisations (RPOs), i.e., diagnosing situation as well as promoting and assuring support in designing, introducing and monitoring selected gender equality measures or GEPs. It also collects and systematises existing experiences and knowledge in the region. As of September 2021, GEinCEE CoP gathers researchers and gender equality officials of 20 organizations from Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ukraine and Cyprus.
As the community we have been very active and worked together within diverse formats. Between February 2019 and October 2021 the GEinCEE CoP had 15 general meetings (including 4 face-to-face), a few individual meetings with the CoP members in need of tailored support and consultation, two dozen of working groups meetings (on policy brief, edited book and sustainability, on-line only), 3 member-only workshops (on GEP implementation, on gender equality argumentation at EIGE/ both face-to-face and on intersectionality and GEPs/ online), 5 members-only trainings (on leadership skills, team building - both in Lithuanian/ face-to-face, unconscious bias in RPOs - two in English and one in Polish/ on-line). Moreover, we organised 4 events that were open to non-members and gathered diversifed and wide audience (webinar on gender and science in the Czech Republic, GE Academy workshop on GEP implementation, Informal Lounge with the GEinCEE CoP, Towards Inclusive Gender Equality Plans Webinar/ all on-line).
Apart from this, selected CoP members actively participated in international conferences, debates and seminars by giving presentations, sharing their experience and expertise. These included: International Conference “Gender Studies and Research (Vilnius 11.2019, onsite), 18th Annual ESPAnet Conference (09.2020, on-line), International conference “Gender equality in CEE countries: Policies and practices 2020” (Vilnius, 11.2020, online), debate organised by the Office for Safety, Security and Equal Treatment of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (12.2020, on-line), BASEES Annual Conference (04.2021, on-line), Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe Webinar (06.2021, on-line), GEP as a criterion in Horizon Europe (07.2021, on-line), ACT Synthesis Event (09.2021, on-line).
GEinCEE CoP members has also benefited from Gender Equality Audit and Monitoring (GEAM) tool for carrying out survey-based gender equality audits in HEIs and RPOs developed by the ACT consortium. It fitted well with well-articulated need to conduct regular assessments of gender equality and organisational culture status quo. As of September 2021 the survey has been conducted in 12 member organisations. The GEAM was widely recognized as a tool for providing information on the situation in institutions and the basis for future evidence-based interventions, monitoring change, and improving working conditions in participating organisations. Running the survey and presenting its results were also reported to trigger a discussion on gender equality issues among employees and to help creating allies and synergies within organisations. Additionally, results from the GEAM survey were used to prepare a policy brief which aim is to reach science policy makers and provides a list of recommendations.
Apart from the possibility to use tools developed in the ACT project, 52 registered users and members of the GEinCEE CoP have access to CoP’s resources, 30 blog posts and forum available at CoP website. The GEinCEE CoP’s members have also co-created an on-line map of GE bodies and measures in their institutions and gave 11 accounts of the developments in relation to gender equality in the CoP’s blog. The map and the blog accounts increased the visibility of gender equality issues in CEE and the CoP itself by providing data on status quo of gender equality and addressing the gaps in the research concerning CEE countries. Additionally, both are also useful in advocating for progress in own organisations by demonstrating developments in other places.
We have been also present in social media and in scientific discourse through active dissemination of news, activities and blog posts on the GEinCEE webpage and Twitter account (@ACTonGEinCEE with 215 followers). CoP members were also very active during the #COMMIT2GENDER campaign for #8M2020 coordinated by the ACT project - 10 GEinCEE CoP’s member organisations contributed to the action by publishing templates on their commitments towards gender equality. We also took part in the 1st #ACTonERA online discussion.
Moreover, in order to advance gender equality within member institutions, the CoP Support Programme was set up. The idea was to facilitate change by providing institutions with services indicated by them as needed: support in analysis of the GEAM survey results, organisation and provision of trainings on, among others, gender bias (with almost 150 participants) as well as proofreading of scientific articles on gender equality. 9 organisations from Poland, Lithuania, Cyprus and Czech Republic benefited from the support programme.
From June 2021, CoP members have been working intensively on CoP’s sustainability plan. We search for best solutions to maintain CoP’s activities, members involvement and organizational leaders' support. It concentrates on preparing a proposal for Horizon Europe call focused on gender equality plans development and support.
With the end of the ACT project, the CoP organisations decided to update the Memorandum of Understanding to the new format of work outside the European project – so we are looking forward to work together for gender equality in the region nonetheless the ACT completion. As the GEP become an eligibility criteria in the Horizon programme, many organisations are becoming engaged in GEP implementation, which creates an additional push for our Community work.
As facilitators/coordinating institution, we would like to thank all the members of the CoP for the outstanding engagement for gender equality in their organisations and in the region, as well as for contributing to the GEinCEE CoP and ACT project! Our recognition also goes to the organisational leaders who supported the engagement in the community and change in their own organisations, and also ACT project amazing team that provided the community with support, resources and tools.
All those who would like to join our work in the upcoming years, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.