Virginia Woolf Basqueskola for women elected representatives
The Association Basque of Municipalities EUDEL, has created a school for women local elected politicians, “the Virginia Woolf Basqueskola” together with the Basque Institute for Women – Emakunde and the Directorate for Victims of Gender Violence of the Basque Government. The school takes its name from the famous English writer, which was one of the promoters of modern feminism though, her book “A room of One’s Own” from 1929.
The main objective of the school is to offer a place for women politicians to share experiences and to create a common network with other European local elected women. By providing coaching, practical tools and strategies the school aims to empower women in their political carrier.
The school is founded on studies showing that women and men engaged in politics neither have the same point of departure, nor the same way of living or approach to politics. Women shares common experiences that can benefit the society as a whole, therefore the ultimate goal for every society should be to achieve greater inclusion of women in mixed areas of politics and public accountability.
By bringing up strategies to meet and to compensate these different obstacles, the Virginia Woolf school will function as a tool enabling both women and men politicians to get an equal weight in public policy. The school is open for women politicians from both small and larger towns, with or without previous knowledge or experience having worked with gender equality issues/policies. It is anchored in a European context of existing networks of elected women and also open women engaged in civil platforms.
“Virgina Woolf Basqueskola” offers workshops, trainings and seminars for elected women to acquire knowledge and develop skills to manage the work in both large and small municipalities and also to stay informed on current debates and arguments constituting the basis for equality policies. It also offers coaching and provides practical tools for implementation of policies favouring gender equality at local level.
The school officially opened in June 2012 and a training-program started in September 2012. The themes that are brought up will be based on the needs and demands of participants. The three main fields focus on “Political responsibility and personal life”, “Gender communication and leadership” and “Gender Equality debates and arguments”.
So far, a seminar on coaching leadership development has been organized as well as on the topic of implementing gender mainstreaming in municipality policies. Gender budgeting has been used as an example of a strategy to address the challenges of the gender mainstreaming approach. Discussions have also been held on the obstacles that women face when entering office and municipal services.