The Gender Equality Interest Group was born quite recently, but we have already seen some of their proposals to take action. Their Facebook group is very active, and they strive for the world where equality of treatment is applied no matter your gender, skin colour or religion. We spoke to María Ballesteros Melero, one of the moderators of the Interest Group, to gather more information.
The AEGEEan: Please introduce yourself.
María Ballesteros Melero: I am María Ballesteros Melero, one of the moderators of the Gender Equality Interest Group (together with Anna Ziętkiewicz, Léa Charlet and Ioanna Gympaki).
What drove you to create this IG?
There was already a Facebook Group, Gender Equality in AEGEE, in which a lot of interesting discussions were happening. So some of us came together and decided that we could make it an official interest group of AEGEE-Europe (as it already fulfilled the requirements) and take the discussion further with actions, education and advocacy.
What would you answer to someone objecting “We have far more urgent problems to tackle”?
There is nothing more urgent than assuring human rights, from which equal rights for everyone is included, and therefore gender equality.
You were very active in promoting the Women’s March against president Trump. Why and how do you believe his presidency affects EU and AEGEE policies and missions?
First of all, US policies create trends and influence worldwide and European policies as it is the first world power (at least until now).
Second, we are also witnessing in Europe that the same shift in an increasing discrimination towards traditionally oppressed groups, the rise of the extreme right and populist movements, whose ideology attacks the before-mentioned groups.
Third, the marches started in the US but quickly expanded to the whole world, claiming not only against Trump but FOR equal rights worldwide. This is a problem affecting every single person in the world, in Europe and in AEGEE, so we strongly believed we, as a student association striving for a democratic and integrated Europe, must take that stand for everyone’s rights.
What is intersectionality in gender equality and why is it important?
As stated in the Strategic Plan: Intersectionality examines different aspects of human identities – such as gender, race and sexual orientation – in interaction with each other, rather than treating these aspects in isolation. Having an intersectional perspective means acknowledging that people cannot be reduced to single categories.
We all have more than one identity and can suffer from different kinds of discrimination and/or enjoy different kinds of privilege. So not to acknowledge these overlapping identities reduces people to simple categories, which does not correspond to reality and thus cannot tackle the real problems of oppression that are very present in our societies.
The members of GEIG are all very active, how do you plan to take this effort and enthusiasm to the outer world?
We have already made some statements and calls for action against several happenings across the world which violate the principles of gender equality. Besides, one of the proposed objectives for the new Action Agenda includes AEGEE locals organising and participating in events in cooperation with relevant partners and stakeholders on the topic of equal rights aiming at establishing AEGEE as a relevant actor on the topic as well as the partnership with other relevant organisations.
Written by Federica Soro, AEGEE-Cagliari