"Gender and Economic Justice in European Accession and Integration" - a three year project of Karat Coalition and the Network of East-West Women Polska.
The vision of the project is to use forthcoming integration with European Union (EU) to strengthen women's economic rights and gender equality.
Participation in decision-making and enjoyment of economic rights and opportunities are two of the most fundamental issues for women in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
At the same time in CEE there is little discussion about or understanding of women's economic rights or the impact of economic, employment and social policies on women.
Therefore the development objectives for the project include: promoting gender and economic justice for women in CEE and fostering a better understanding and cooperation between the EU and other countries of Europe, towards a vision for Europe where all citizens are equal, whether from the EU or CEE, regardless of their gender.
- Women from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) will benefit from the EU integration process,
- Women from CEE may support their own governments and national negotiating teams in the preparations for EU integration,
- EU standards regarding gender equality will promote better respect for women's rights in CEE countries and will give them adequate protection.
The lack of information about the EU integration process results is low levels of understanding of the integration among societies in EU candidate countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), their insufficient involvement and lack of organized women participation in the debate regarding women's rights and gender equality in the integration process.
In the same time, in the EU member countries, the accession process creates questions and fears regarding the economic consequences of adopting new members. There is a lack of understanding of characteristics and culture of CEE citizens. Almost all the information about integration remains mostly under disposal of officials working within EU institutions.
In European Union, only the little interest is given to:
- Problems of gender equality within the integration process,
- Women's participation in this process,
- Civil societies' support for integration.
The strategy here is to build understanding and capacity regarding economics, employment and social policies, including aspects of labor codes and employment and business related legislation. Therefore, there is a need for in-depth knowledge and developing lobbying skills on economic justice among women from CEE countries, through better understanding:
- Economy and economic policy theories,
- Gender implications in the area of employment,
- Ways of promoting the implementation and observation of laws protecting women in the labor market and economy in general.
This component combines information about the European Union and the accession process, and action-oriented planning and advocacy. Currently, most CEE citizens know hardly anything about the accession process, and there has been virtually no participation by women's organizations. Therefore the project's objective is to ensure that women know about the EU and the accession process; build relationships with candidate countries' negotiating teams; working with EU women's organizations to promote the implementation of more effective EU standards regarding gender equality in accession process. In order to apply the rules of this process, the knowledge about the European Union legislature, mechanisms and EU institutions in terms of gender equality is necessary.
The women's active participation in the process of EU accession is aimed at the national negotiating delegations to consider women's situation and their needs, and identifying the impact of European Union accession on women. The participation in the project of women from non-candidate countries will contribute to promoting European standards also in their own countries.
The main objective is also to use the European integration process as a way to highlighting the importance of gender equality problems for women in CEE countries, as well as in EU - through building new partner relations and foster a better understanding between women from UE and CEE, overcoming common stereotypes and initiating the partner cooperation with women's non-governmental organizations from UE for purposes of strengthening "social dialogue" with EU institutions about gender equality.
The term "integration" is used in a context of integrating all citizens throughout Central and Eastern Europe and even Russia into European community, not separating CEE from the rest of Europe. An effective integration in EU is crucial for women from CEE mostly because of:
- Citizens of CEE countries do not want to be seen as second-class citizens in EU,
- Women in CEE countries do not want to be seen as second-class women in EU, they do not want to be represented by already existing women's organizations in EU without partner cooperation with these organizations.
The project's objective is to represent the interests of women from CEE countries in the European Union, and to explain what are the needs of women from our region.
Women in Europe: Info-Kit