Creation of a Gender and Equality Council
On the proposal of Florence Caeymaex, Advisor to Rector Anne-Sophie Nyssen, on 12th October 2022 the Board of Directors created a Gender and Equality Council responsible for proposing an institutional strategy and launching and implementing projects in this area. It also appointed a Gender Contact Person.
There is no denying the existence of inequalities and discrimination based on gender in our society. Numerous scientific studies have proven this time and again. The University is not exempt from this, it knows it. It is also aware that what is at stake is not only a question of justice, but also the production of scientific knowledge, in terms of content and epistemological positions. Some measures have been put in place in recent years to move towards greater respect and justice. The University now wishes, as a lucid and responsible institution, to show a real will to improve the situation.
Three initial steps forward mark this desire for change.
Appointment of an Advisor to the Rector on Ethics and Equality Policies
Florence Caeymaex is a professor of political philosophy. Her primary research interests are contemporary ethics and the contributions of feminist and gender theory to this field. As advisor to the Rector, she works on the institutional strategy against discrimination and for the promotion of equality. The first action of her mandate was to have the Gender and Equality Council created by the Board of Directors, which was requested by the former Gender Working Group.
Appointment of the new Gender Contact Person / Gender Officer
Éléna Chane-Alune has accepted to take on the mission of being the Gender Contact Person. She has a degree in management science and works in the RADIUS (Data Collection and Analysis of Strategic Information) unit of the University.
The Gender Contact Person is more specifically in charge of promoting the institutional policy on gender through 3 missions: networking, awareness and information. As such, she will participate in the Gender Contact Person Network meetings and is in charge of writing the institutional report for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (FWB).
Contact: email@example.com 04 366 96 98
Gender Working Group becomes Gender and Equality Council
In 2017, an informal working group was created from a subgroup of the HRS4R (Human Resources Strategy for Research) committee. Open to all, this working group would meet several times a year, to reflect on certain issues and make proposals to university authorities.
In 2021, 31 people from different backgrounds and statuses exchanged, based on scientific studies, numerical indicators or simple observations to put forward a Proposal for an Institutional Policy on gender for our University. The result of this work was presented to the University community in March 2022.
The Authorities have shown themselves to be sensitive to these proposals. In order to determine the procedures to be put in place, the actions to be carried out, and to ensure the follow-up of the different institutional projects on these matters, it was necessary for the University to set up an official and permanent structure, the Gender and Equality Council, which has now been achieved.
The Council's mission is to propose an institutional strategy and an action plan to the Board of Directors. It is responsible for initiating, improving, accompanying and implementing projects in the field of gender and equality policies.
It is open to any motivated member of the Institution who has useful expertise and/or a scientific or personal interest in the theme. The participative logic, the institutional transversality and the bottom-up dynamics of the former working group are preserved, as well as its organisational autonomy.
The Council has a Bureau, chaired by the Ethics and Equality Policy Advisor Florence Caeymaex, where the Rector Anne-Sophie Nyssen, the Gender Contact Person Éléna Chane-Alune, the Advisor in charge of Sustainable Development, Sybille Mertens (The fifth Sustainable Development goal concerns gender equality) as well as 5 members of the Council (including 2 students) also sit.
The Bureau operationalizes the Council's proposals, coordinates actions, and ensures follow-up and institutional communication.
First projects of the Gender and Equality Council
The next few months will be devoted mainly to the rewriting of the "Proposals" published last March, in order to turn them into a real "Action Plan" that will be able to be implemented within the institutional strategic plan of the Authorities, currently being drafted. Particular attention will be paid to the integration of the issues of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The issue of harassment is one of the Council's priorities. It will be a matter of establishing criteria for identifying violence, offering training, reflecting on appropriate responses from the Institution, accompanying victims, and it will also be a matter of communicating much better on existing aid and recourse.
The broad issue of parenthood is also a priority, as is the reinforcement of training on gender bias, particularly in recruitment.
Many of the proposed actions are related to communication, information and training. Existing information is often not very visible, is incomplete and is not centralised.
Towards greater equality
With the action plan that will probably be presented in the spring, the University will clearly indicate how it positions itself with regard to gender issues, affirming that injustices and gender-based violence, whatever they may be, are neither acceptable nor accepted.