“AEGEE gives us so much joy and opportunities, but it also does come with challenges” – AEGEE is now addressing a topic the importance of which can hardly be overrated, personal safety. The AEGEEan has talked to the SMASH Project about their inspirations and ambitious goals.
Starting from Autumn 2017, AEGEE / European Students’ Forum has been raising awareness and tackling the problem of sexual harassment and consent inside our organisation.
In January 2019, thanks to the support of the European Youth Foundation (Council of Europe), AEGEE launched a project titled S.M.A.S.H.: Structural Measures Against Sexual Harassment. During this project, AEGEE will be able to further increase its expertise and enlarge the pool of members who are trained to prevent, detect, and react to cases of sexual harassment (named Safe Persons).
The aim of SMASH is to create a sustainable system to prevent and tackle the problem of sexual harassment in (youth) organisations, as well as other events and activities involving youth, by using AEGEE as a pilot but ensuring the replicability, scalability, and dissemination of our activities.
In order to do so, we will train youth workers on how to prevent, detect, and react to sexual harassment in their local organisations and communities, becoming Safe Persons and creating a network of Safe Persons all over Europe.
Besides educational guidelines for youth workers on how to become a Safe Person and how to implement a system that enables tackling sexual harassment in their local organisations being produced throughout the project, a trainer’s’ toolbox to ensure the multiplier effect will also be provided.
These method will be tested in a series of events in different parts of Europe, gathering from 50 to 1000 young people, during the Spring and Summer of 2019. Thanks to the input from these events, as well as the one from an expert on sexual harassment, the guidelines will be adapted and finalised to be disseminated among AEGEE’s network and other youth organisations in a closing event in Brussels in the winter of 2019.
To sum up, the main events of the work plan will be:
- Training for youth workers in Tbilisi, Georgia, 9-14 April
- Training for youth workers in Helsinki, Finland, xxxx
- Training for trainers at the University on Youth and Development in Mollina, Malaga, Spain, 16-22 September
- Closing event, Brussels, December
SMASH is the continuation of efforts started with the first Safe Person Project pilot during Agora Catania. We realised that while AEGEE gives so many of us much joy and opportunities, it does also come with challenges. For instance, when roughly 800 students from 40 countries come together for a party, there are going to be misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and mistakes. SMASH aims to help prevent these things from happening as well as having the right people present when it does happen. Through this project, we hope to contribute to a situation where all AEGEE events will be remembered fondly by all participants. AEGEE has been at the forefront of many societal issues and this project fits well within that spirit.
Interested in was the project does? Would like to try piloting the Safe Person method in your organisation? Feel free to contact SMASH at email@example.com