On 24 January 2023, the European Association for Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), the European Forum for Vocational Education and Training (EfVET) and the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) jointly launched the work of dynamic Gender Equality Task Force.
The Task Force is an initiative launched by the three EU-based associations that operate in the sector of Vocational Education and Training (EfVET), Adult Education (EAEA) and Lifelong Learning (EARLALL). These organisations join forces to gather interested members to launch a series of initiatives that encourage discussion on EU policies and strategies related to gender equality in lifelong learning.
The first informal meeting was chaired by Ms Sylvia Liuti, a Gender Equality expert at FORMA.Azione (EfVET Italy), gathering over 25 participants such as public and regional authorities, representatives from European Institutions, education and training providers, and gender in education experts, among others.
Ms Noelia Cantero (EARLALL) explained that the Task Force’s main purpose is to advocate for equal and balanced lifelong learning educational opportunities for all which can only be achieved through the incorporation of a gender perspective in all EU policies. A series of preparatory activities were coordinated to launch this initiative, such as a first event at the European Regions and Cities Week 2022 (see here), and a survey to explore the gender situation in the educational environments.
The meeting started exploring the Gender disparities in VET and Adult Education with the presentations by Ms Sylvia Liuti and Ms Aleksandra Kozyra (EAEA).
In the VET sector, Ms Liuti explained that even if there are high rates of women enrolled in education, then when it comes to employment rates, this decrease drastically. Therefore, there is a need for cultural change. Ms Liuti said that is needed to introduce Gender Equality competences as a quality factor in VET. This is not about women, but about the future societies that we want to build, Ms Liuti stated.
Ms Kozyra (EAEA), guided participants through the Adult Education situation. The profile of a “typical” adult learner in the EU, generally speaking, is slightly more likely a woman than a man, 11.6 % of women participate vs 10.1 men in 2021, most likely young (25 34) and with tertiary education. However, Ms Kozyra, explained that, according to the “Gender and Learning Study” conducted by The Irish National Adult Learning Organisation (AONTAS) in 2021, there are men disparities as well as they are wary of adult education when not focused directly towards employment and retired men are the least likely to participate. In addition, vulnerable groups, such as migrant or refugee women or trans and gender non-confirming adults are less likely to enrol due to several barriers (language, negative experiences, safe spaces in learning…).
The first Gender Equality Task Force official activity was a survey, launched in September 2022 by the three organisations to understand gender equality issues in the educational sectors. Ms Susana Nogueira (EfVET) introduced the results and explained that it gathered responses from 34 participants (education providers the type of organisations most represented in the survey, followed by public Authorities) representing 17 countries, from Europe and beyond.
Finally, the meeting participants were invited to brainstorm for future Task Force topics and activities. In particular, they agreed to share best practices in dedicated roundtables, seminars and other events, to open a dialogue around gender inequalities with relevant stakeholders, and to translate the discussions into actionable items where possible.
The results of the survey and other materials will be shared with the participants of the Task Force, if you would like to take part you can write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.