YVote Convention on Gender Equality in Paris

Do you believe in coincidences? Well, at least we believe it is very coincidental that we are writing this article about the Y Vote 2014 Convention on Gender Equality precisely on the 8th of March – International Women’s Day, the day chosen by the United Nations to vindicate Women’s rights across the globe.

It has been a few weeks since the fourth thematic conference of the Y Vote Project took place in the stunning city of Paris where, thanks to the Y Vote project team and the awesome organisation undertaken by AEGEE-Paris, almost 40 young Europeans got the chance to learn, discuss and share their visions on gender equality issues in Europe, especially in the context of the European Parliamentary elections that are taking place in May.

Privileged enough to have the opening ceremony held in the Maison de l’Europe as well as most of the lectures and seminars held in the European Parliament Representation in Paris, the participants rapidly and easily engaged in the topic that seemed to be an issue of the past century, but is still a considerable matter in the present societies. They realised that many thoughts, opinions and meanings were hidden under the words “gender equality”, ranging from what every participant understood by “feminism” to male discrimination or women stereotypes, and they even learnt new things about LGBT rights. It was observed that the most interesting and passionate discussion took place when assessing an impact the environment we live in (media, school, civil society etc.) has on forming gender awareness.

Under the lead of the Y Vote team (Léa Charlet – Project Manager, Lucille Rieux – member of the Comité Directeur, and Lavinia Manea – representative of the content team), the participants learnt about the role of the EP and the importance of the upcoming elections, and discovered what is the situation of gender equality in different EU countries. With no surprise, they realised how diverse and different the EU countries are in this respect. They also figured out how limited the EP is in terms of its competences regarding this matter, but looking for necessary and feasible solutions, the participants came up with a bunch of creative recommendations.

After a hard working day of drafting and writing recommendations, the participants spent the last day in the Serbian Embassy in Paris, where the Ambassador provided them with all the necessary elements for having an unforgettable farewell and closing ceremony: Serbian exquisite food, official speeches, assessment exercises and great views of the Eiffel Tower.

Days of the Convention finished and participants were reflecting on their experience: “It has been a week since the Y Vote Paris ended but I still feel its impact”, “I know now that we can do more than we think”. Although being non-neutral actors, we are certain that this Convention had a great effect on all the participants: learning about the EP elections and discussing such a controversial topic as gender equality. This made all of us more aware of what we can do as citizens to achieve better and more equal societies.

Are you still wondering what your first step to become an active citizen should be? Well, it is easy: don’t forget to vote in the EP elections!

Written by Raquel Alcega Giner (AEGEE-Barcelona) and Carlota Lifante (AEGEE-Alicante)