“We’ve had enough”
I attended the 4th Women’s Congress Friday and Saturday. One of a fairly limited number of men among 9000 women.
I was there for several reasons. First and foremost because of the cause behind the Congress: gender equality. It is an area of great interest to me and obviously a key priority for Sweden in all possible contexts. So I wanted to listen and learn. Which I did as much as I could.
One of several memorable experiences was the panel Saturday afternoon on gender based violence with one key theme: “We have had enough”. In Polish: Mamy dość. The legal and political aspects were clearly dealt with. Minister Kozłowska-Rajewicz could confirm that Poland now is going to sign the European Convention to prevent and combat gender based violence, a message that Prime Minister Tusk also conveyed during his speech at the closing ceremony.
But there were also the individual voices. Like the woman telling the audience it took her 6,5 years to become divorced from a husband beating her. And the women that were economically dependent of their husbands - like so many still are – and thus were or had been tied in relations were violence was continously present.
Men could and should join in echoing the message: we have also had enough of this. Had enough of the reality that some men – too many of them – are beating women. Hurting them physically and emotionally, often also the children. And sometimes even killing them. Women need to mobilise. Governments need top act. And men need to engage as well much more than before.
Secondly I was also asked to participate in a roundtable for EU countries and Gender Equality Ministers hosted by Ministers Kosiniak-Kamysz and Kozłowska-Rajewicz. Sharing experiences on the fight against stereotypes and their impact on gender based violence and on the labour market in a group of around 15 representatives from different EU countries.
I put my focus on family policy, especially the role of men. It is crucial for the fight against inequalities in the labour market as well as in the fight against domestic violence:
“Parental leave for men is a key to progress in this respect. In Sweden 24 percent of the parental leave is claimed by men. It is obviously not enough but it is much more than 20 years ago when I was on leave myself. Now it is a regular element in working life, albeit stronger in some sectors than in others.And nowadays 60 days are reserved for fathers and 60 for mothers out of the 480 in total. That has given fathers a push. Before the introduction of the first nontransferable month in the mid 90’s the proportion of fathers not using the parental insurance at all was 50%. Afterwards it declined to 18%.
A child is born. Fantastic news. The mother stays home. The father stays home. The mother returns. The father returns. No big deal. Interestingly enough research also tells us that families that are more equal in this respect also is more likely to stick together, avoiding divorce. Equally interesting is that it tells us that women experience a rise in income when their husbands stay at home.”
This is a theme that our Embassy will continue to work on, actually already at an event later this month together with Institut Spraw Publicznych and Wysokie Obcasy 27 September. Among the speakers a Swedish author – and daddy… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Instytut-Spraw-Publicznych/174123027189
More activitities related to the same theme will follow.
The Women’s congress ended Saturday afternoon with the Prime Minister being presented with the demands from the participants (available in Polish through the link below). Touching upon a broad range of key issues including – as I noted – the key importance of affordable and high quality child care (and in that context also stressing the importance of both parents participating ). http://www.kongreskobiet.pl/pl-PL/news/show/iv_kongres_kobiet_postulaty,_uznania,_aspiracje
The concept of Women’s Congress is hard to grasp just through following websites or reading statements. There is so much energy there that can’t be described accurately only by words. I look forward to follow the continuation of this movement during the years to come. And to return next year as well.