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Recently the EU has decided educational organizations need to do more to promote women, transgender and non-binary people. By 2022 it is mandatory to have a Gender Equality Plan implemented in order to keep European funding.

The Challenge=2022

The challenge for most universities and other higher education institutions is that they have not even started writing a D&I strategy, let alone published a plan with the signatures of the board or directors, which is one of the requirements. Most of these institutions aren’t capable of acting fast (enough).

What is mandatory?

  • Having a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in place becomes an eligibility criterion for certain categories of legal entities from EU countries and associated countries. Here are the mandatory requirements for that GEP:
  • It has to be a public document, signed by the top management
  • In this documentit dedicated sources for the design/strategy, implementation and monitoring need to be defined, are described like special dedicated staff members and teams, as well as time dedicated to executing this plan by academic, management and administrative staff
  • Data collection methods and monitoring tools with frequencies are to be included
  • Objectives, targets, indicators and ongoing monitoring is included
  • Descriptions and timelines about actions to develop gender competence and tackling unconscious bias among staff, leaders and decision-takers
  • Information and action plans to establish working groups dedicated to specific topics
  • Actions to raise awareness through training and communication should be included too 

What is recommended?

It does not stop there; they would really like to see the following topics need to be addressed as well in both content ofin the GEP as well as in planned actions.

  • Work-life balance and organizational culture
  • Gender balance in leadership and decision-making
  • Gender equality in recruitment and career progression
  • Integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content
  • Measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment

What are the opportunities?

Specific funding will be dedicated to:

  • Gender and intersectional research, in particular under Cluster 2 of the programme Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  • Developing inclusive gender equality policies in support of the new European Research Area, through the Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area programme part, Reforming and enhancing the European Research and Innovation System
  • Empowering women innovators, in particular through Pillar III of the programme, Innovative Europe,  and the European Innovation Council (EIC) (see statement on gender and diversity of the EIC Pilot Board)

When exactly?

Although it is allowed to have a self-declaration in place at the first submission stage, there is a mandatory questionnaire. At the time of the Grant Agreement signature, you have to have your GEP in place. If not, you lose the funding.

Something to think about

These demands seem harsh, but if you ask me, these institutes need a hard push in the right direction. I have seen several monitors that indicate the equity issue will not be is is not solved until the year 2050+ and that is taking way too long.

But, more importantly, these institutions demonstrate a way of thinking and acting that should not be adapted by their students. They take what they’ve learned into the wide world and influence other organisations and institutions with what they’ve learned and experienced.

In this case is leading by example far more important than most people think.

If you need help starting with your GEP? Follow our free webinar on Friday July 16th at 15.00h by signing up here.

UvA Academy offers an extensive course which enables you to write your GEP, and help you implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a sustainable manner. For more information about this programme, please visit this page.