Policies and actions by the Greek General Secretariat for Gender Equality on the improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas

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Athens, 28-4-2017             To: - EIGE.
Dear Colleagues,
 Following our fruitful coperation,  I am sending you a comprehensive report on policies and actions by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality on the improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas in Greece.
 1. Gender mainstreaming in policies in rural areas
 A. In Greece, the National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020, which constitutes an initiative taken by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality (GSGE), i.e. the governmental organization in charge of equality between women and men, comprises the following six policy areas with concrete objectives and distinctive synergies with competent stakeholders, covering in that way all fields of both public and private life in favour of young women and men, as well as girls and boys:

i) social inclusion and equal treatment of women facing multiple discrimination

ii) combating violence against women

iii) labour market, work-family reconciliation

iv) education, training, media, culture, sports

v) health

vi) equal participation of women in decision-making.

The National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020 has been included as a good practice in the 2016 Report on Equality between Women and Men in the European Union (European Commission, Brussels, March 2017): pages 51-52 of the EC Report  http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/document.cfm?doc_id=43416 .

B. An "Observatory on Gender Equality" has been set up in the General Secretariat for Gender Equality.  The Flagship Project is entitled "Service organization for the integration, monitoring and evaluation of Gender Equality Policies in all aspects of Public Sector's Actions" (Observatory); its aim is to support Public Administration and Local Authorities to design, implement and evaluate policies concerning gender equality through detailed data on equality issues (statistics and surveys) deriving from the development and function of relevant tools.

Its structure is based on the twelve thematic  areas of the Beijing Platform for Action adopted by the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 and the issue of the status of the rural female population of Greece is incorporated in it.

The European Commission has selected the specific Project as an example of good practice for the 2015 Annual Report on Equality between Women and Men in Europe (March 2016 – page 40, relevant link:  http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/annual_reports/2016_annual_report_2015_web_en.pdf ). 

C. During the Programming Period 2007-2013 extended up to 2015, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality supported the creation of methodologies and toolkits aiming to gender mainstreaming in public policies of the 13 Regions and the 15 most populated Municipalities of Greece. Special provision had be taken for rural women.
D. The political leadership of the Ministry in charge of public administration has accepted the proposal by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality on gender-neutral language in the official documents in the Greek public administration. The proposal, followed by an official document addressed to all the Ministries and institutions/agencies of the public sector, is actually the implementation of the recommendations of a survey on this topic which was initiated by the GSGE. This is considered to be a progressive step towards changing mentalities on the relationship between the two sexes living and working not only in cities but also in rural areas.
2. Institutionalized cooperation between the General Secretariat for Gender Equality and the Ministry of Rural Development & Food
A. Since 23-2-2016 an institutionalized cooperation between the General Secretariat for Gender Equality and the Ministry of Rural Development & Food has been activated through a Protocol of Cooperation signed by the political leaderdship of the two Public Authorities of Greece. In that way, a common front is established aiming at the improvement of the situation of women in rural areas: press release in Greek http://www.isotita.gr/var/uploads/DELTIA%20TYPOU/2016/DT_23-02-2016_Protokolo%20Synergasias%20Me%20YpAgrAnaptiksis.pdf .
B. As a result of that institutionalized cooperation, the GSGE has been registered at the National Rural Network established by the competent Ministry of Rural Development & Food. In addition, the GSGE submitted concrete proposals in favour of rural women at the draft bill on agricultural cooperatives which were incorporated in the final adopted bill.
C. The political leadership of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality attends the Monitoring Committee of the Operational Program on Rural Development 2014-2020, safeguarding in that way the need for special attention to the needs of the rural female population of Greece.
D. The two Public Authorities jointly organized a Conference on Female Agricultural Cooperatives followed by an exhibition of their traditional products (Piraeus, 10-11/12/2016): press release in Greek http://www.isotita.gr/var/uploads/DELTIA%20TYPOU/2016/Dec/DT_12-12-2016_Telos%20stin%20afaneia%20tis%20gynaikeias%20agrotissas.pdf .
3. Actions by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality on the economic empowerment of rural women
A. A two-day International Symposium was organized entitled “Women of Prespas - Women of the World: Women of Prespas into Business” and focused on female entrepreneurship in rural areas (Florina, 7-8/7/2016). Here is the agenda of the event both in Greek and in English:
B. The competent GSGE Directorate for Development & Support of Policies on Gender Equality organized a comprehensive information and awareness-raising campaign on rural women during October 2016. On the occasion of the International Day for Rural Women, the key findings of the 2015 study by the European Parliament on the status of rural women in the European Union were communicated to a number of public organizations and independent bodies in Greece:
The recipients of our document have been, among others, the Hellenic Parliament, Independent Authorities (e.g. the Ombudsman and the National Commission on Human Rights), the General Secretariat of the Government, competent Ministries and Agencies, as well as all the key social partners. In that way, further promotion and greater visibility of the needs and contribution of rural women have been achieved by our initiative among competent Greek stakeholders.
In addition, a press release was issued in Greek by the GSGE on the International Day for Rural Women 2016 (the logo of the International Day is also included in English): http://www.isotita.gr/var/uploads/DELTIA%20TYPOU/2016/Oct/DT_15-10-2016_Pagkosmia%20Hmera%20ths%20Gynaikas%20thw%20Ypaithrou.pdf .
C. The General Secretariat for Gender Equality has been a partner of the Project entitled “Innovation and Employability for Women, E-Women” co-financed by the European Economic Area (EEA Grants 2009-2014). Its aim is to identify the current evolution of technology in relation to women’s participation and sensitization, especially for young women, associated with ICT and employment (employment/employability and entrepreneurship). The Project E-Women was launched in January 2016 and concluded in March 2017: http://www.iewomen.eu/1_2/ieWomen .

4. Gender policies in the field of education in favour of girls in rural areas

A. Since July 2015 a Protocol of Cooperation has been activated between the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, the Research Center for Gender Equality (an entity suprvised by the Ministry of Interior), the National Center for Public Administration & Local Government and the Ministry of Education, Research & Religious Affairs on the promotion of gender equality in education (e.g. a number of training seminars to the educational personnel of primary schools are in the process of implementation throughout the country, so that the principles of equality and non-discrimination between the two sexes are perceived by the young generation at a very early stage).
B. Changing stereotypes is a top priority for Greece, that is why two poster competitions initiated by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality were implemented during the school/academic year 2015-2016. The former was addressed to students of secondary education and the groups of schools classified at the three first places participated at an educational trip at the European Institutions based in Brussels under the sponsorship by Ms Konstantinka Kouneva, MEP. The latter was addressed to university students of fine arts and the best poster evaluated by a jury has become the official poster of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality with the motto: We break stereotypes - We promote gender equality. 
During the school year 2016-2017 two competitions of digital creation are in process. The former is addressed to students of primary education and it focuses on combating gender stereotypes through toys and games entitled "All toys and games for all children" (no special toys/games for girls and no special toys/games for boys). The latter is addressed to students of secondary education and it is associated with awareness-raising of the gender aspect of environment.

5. Combating sexual and gender-based violence


The SGBV pillar of the National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020 refers to all forms of gender-based violence (e.g. domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women) and its main characteristics are the following:

- fourteen Counseling Centers operated by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality at the capitals of the corresponding Regions of the country
 - twenty five Counseling Centers operated by the twenty five largest Municipalities nationwide
 - nineteen shelters for Abused Women operated by 19 large Municipalities, which started their operation within the period 2013-2014; they provide bilingual (Greek and English) services of shelter, psychological and social support to women victims of violence and their children
- two Shelters for Abused Women operated by the Ministry of Labor, Social Security & Social Solidarity / National Centre for Social Solidarity in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki
 - the bilingual (Greek and English) SOS helpline 15900 accompanied by the email-address sos15900@isotita.gr, which has been in operation since March 2011; it provides services of advice, support and counseling to women victims of gender based violence, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year (a low-cost, nationwide, confidential helpline)
- implementation of an awareness raising campaign including relevant seminars, a thematic conference, informational material in four languages (Greek, English, French and Albanian), TV and radio spots, cultural events, publicity on public transport, entries in national and migrant Press, a webpage and a facebook page as well as banners in web pages; the information leaflet for the Counselling Centre of Komotini–Thrace is also published in the Turkish language
 - training is offered to counsellors who are recruited in the Counselling Centers, the Shelters and the SOS telephone helpline, to lawyers who participate in the leal aid programmes of women-victims of violence, as well as to professionals who deal with such cases (i.e. policemen/policewomen, judges, health professionals, etc.).
 Undoubtedly, the rural female population can take advantage of this panhellenic network for their own safety and empowerment.

6. Promoting healthy attitudes among women and girls in rural areas

 Health has been included in the National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020 as a distinct policy area with the following objectives:

i) integration of a gender perspective in healthcare policies

ii) elimination of gender stereotypes in health and health services

iii) health issues for special population groups (e.g. young women, older women, refugee women, women with disabilities living both in cities and in rural areas).

 In this framework, the GSGE is implementing awareness-raising actions/campaigns in schools and the media and is also developing synergies with competent state, private and non-governmental stakeholders aiming at the promotion of healthy attitudes among young people in Greece.



 7. Changing gender stereotypes

The GSGE is implementing a wide range of policies and actions against gender stereotypes in public life. Apart from the field of education, which has already been presented in depth, special attention is being paid to mass media.

So, the GSGE is participating as permanent member at the Social Control Council of ERT/Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation and is coordinating the Committee on Discrimination, Gender Equality and Citizens’ Rights, safeguarding in that way a fair management of gender issues (issues on rural women are also included) in the state television channels and radio stations.

The Greek side would be grateful if you informed your leadership and the officials of the competent administrative units accordingly.
Wishing you and all the members of your team the very best,      


Yours sincerely,

Dimosthenis TREMOS - dtremos@isotita.gr