For the reconciliation of working and family life and co-responsibility to become an everyday reality, a mobilization of the society is needed, starting at local level. This is the basis of the Equilibrio-Balance Project, within the EEA Grants Gender Equality Programme, whose results were presented at a seminar on 1st and 2nd of September.
Childcare facilities, time banks, flexibilisation of working hours… but above all, the promotion of changes in attitude. These are some of the measures implemented by 15 Spanish municipalities and 3 Norwegian within the Equilibrio-Balance Project, one of the 72 developed within the framework of the Gender Equality Programme operated by the Women’s Institute and for Equal Opportunities and co-financed by the EEA Grants.
The final seminar, held on 1st and 2nd of September in Madrid, showcased the excellent results of a project that has allowed 18 City Councils to develop Work-Life Balance Plans in cooperation with social agents and citizens. The first step was an assessment of the situation in order to develop and to implement the most appropriate measures in the municipality. Experiences and best practices exchange between Spain and Norway has been crucial for the project result and all the project managers expressed the hope that the relationship will continue after the project ending.
More than 4 million people have benefited from this initiative, organized by the Women’s Institute with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS).
Such as the citizens of Cabezón de la Sal, a town of 8,000 inhabitants in Cantabria which through ‘Cabezón Concilia’ has implemented a plan of activities such as alternatives of leisure for young people or co-responsibility workshops. Or Cambre, in Galicia, where the focus was the need for a fundamental change in attitudes through education. Or Jaén, in Andalucía, where the City Council bet on making men the “objective of change” and on raising awareness in companies.
Women’s Institute director, Rosa Urbón, highlighted that despite the advances towards equality, there is still much to be done. “We want that no woman should have to forgo motherhood to retain her job or to forgo a position of responsibility to care for her children”, explained.
Ángel Fernández Díaz, secretary general of the FEMP, pointed out the important role of the local entities as “a vehicle for bridging the gap between citizens and decision makers”.
Norwegian Ambassador, Johan Christopher Vibe, underlined the importance of the collaboration between Spain and Norway and added that “the Welfare State will not survive without the women’s full participation in the labour market”.
Equilibrio-Balance is one of the pre-defined projects within the EEA Grants Gender Equality Programme, funded with 10 million euros, and operated by the Secretary of State for Social Services and Equality through the Women’s Institute and for Equal Opportunities.