Building Healthy Relationships and Enhancing Gender Equality”: Young women from Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan come together
Young women from Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan came together in the online seminar “Building healthy relationships and enhancing gender equality” to discuss gender norms and explore tangible implications of human, gender, and health rights to women’s lives. “The whole journey [of the workshops] made my journey seem less lonely – having others with the same visions and aspirations – makes our work less lonely and it inspires me to do more”, a participant notably mentioned on her experience. The seminar was addressed to women aged 18-25 from Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, and was divided in two sessions with a series of online, regular meetings between December 2020 and March 2021.
Organised on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process by the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) and the heads of the ALF networks of Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, the seminar had the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus. “The integration of the gender dimension in the foreign policy of Cyprus and especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region is a great priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus”, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, in his opening remarks to the seminar, which contributed to strengthening relations between the countries involved through the empowerment of young women of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The seminar was coordinated by the Heads of the Anna Lindh Foundation Cyprus Network, which consists of the NGO Support Centre and Rooftop Theatre Group, and implemented by the Cyprus Family Planning Association and the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies and their experienced trainers. The selection of participants was made through an open call, where the number of applications exceeded all expectations, with a final selection of 40 women from the countries involved. Through the use of non-formal education methodologies and interactive tools, the participating women became informed about decisions on their reproductive rights, gender stereotypes and building healthy relationships based on equality and respect and had the opportunity to engage in discussions addressing gender inequalities, assertive communication and body positivity in their societies; as one participant pointed out, “acknowledging our human rights in a deeper way in order to realize when we are harassed and to learn more things about consent is very important for our lives”. Participants also had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Samir Anouti, Regional Adviser for Youth & HIV/AIDS of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) about the programmes offered by UNFPA in the Arab region to support women’s health and rights.
Women who participated in the seminar were eager to continue working together and advocate for women’s rights and finding more opportunities to share their voices.“[We want to take this further] to promote programs like this amazing program in order to empower women...to promote more documentaries or educational movies for women’s achievements and women’s fights...In order to make womanhood stronger and make each woman love and admire each other as it should”, remarked one of the participants.