A CONFERENCE IN PARIS ON WOMEN, GENDER AND FEMINISM IN CENTRAL EUROPE
On September 18th, after months of hard work, I could finally see the conference I organized with some friends take place in Paris, where amazing people gathered to discuss women's rights, gender issues and feminism in Central Europe.
Four countries were particularly at stake : Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. I am part of an association that focuses on this region. Although I'm originary from the Mediterranean, I spent an awesome time as an exchange student in Prague and this is my way of giving back to this country and its neighbours. I really wanted to organize this event around women's rights and gender issues, because I read a lot about difficulties women and LGBTs encounter at the moment in this area.
THE CURRENT SITUATION OF WOMEN IN THE REGION
As you might know, getting an abortion is illegal in Poland (except some special cases, and still, proving you're in a special case may be quite hard) since the 1990s, and it is getting more and more difficult in Hungary with the new government. Same-sex partnerships, marriages and adoptions are an extremely difficult topic. Women suffer from a wage gap superior to the average European one. Funding has become scarce for women's rights and feminist organizaitons since these countries entered the European Union (2004). Migran women from Eastern Europe or other regions working in these countries have difficulties claiming their rights as workers and human beings.
These are just some examples....All in all, it's a rather dark picture that those participants exposed to us. It was also very interesting to see the parallel between the situation in these countries and in France. Our women's rights organizations also have trouble gathering sufficient funds. Shelters are shutting down. The cost of abortions were debated during our presidential campaign last spring. The wage gap and the lack of women in politics is also a reality in France.
ORGANIZING A WOMEN'S RIGHTS EVENTS: THE FUNDING PATH
It was indeed not easy to listen to all the issues women still have to face on both ends of our continent. On the other hand, I was really glad we could gather enough money to buy their plane tickets to Paris, and that we could find them an accomodation for the two nights they spent there. I can testify it is hard, indeed, to find money for Central European women's rights advocates, feminists, coming to Western Europe to share their experiences.
We did not obtain the main funding we asked for, despite already having a programme, a good application, and very serious partner organizations. I spent the entire August waking up every morning wondering where I could find the hundreds of euros we still had to gather. And even now, we have to write some articles to finally get the 400 euros we are missing. It's been tough, but the reward of seeing them altogether, sitting at a table and later thanking us for having organized this meeting, was priceless !
You can check the programme for more information on our amazing speakers and their work.