Gender equality: From theory to reality

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From the 13th to 20th of April “Youth Breath” NGO hosted under the same roof 30 young people from 12 different countries in the frame of the seminar “Gender Equality: From Theory to Reality”.
The project started on the 14th of April at 10 sharp. Why did I also mention the time? The reason is simple: the trainers were very precise and the participants, quite responsible people.
The session started with “getting to know” activities. The activity was followed by the introduction of the stuff and their responsibilities. Then the participants had the chance to introduce themselves. The introduction of the hostel, its stuff was presented to the participants as well. After an energizer the participants of the seminar were delivered a questionnaire with a form of sun-cross (the symbol of eternity) to get more information about the participants, e.g. who is a vegetarian, who knows how to say ‘hello’ in Armenia, who did/is doing an EVS, who knows more than 4 languages. Then they gathered outside the training room to answer the questions on the designed sun-cross on the ground.
Due to the marshmallow tower activity the participants had the chance to build trust and become a real group by listening to each other. They were given spaghetti, marshmallow and a scotch to make the highest and stable tower with the marshmallow on the top.
Due to the ‘City Rally in Yerevan’ activity the participants had the chance to explore the Armenian reality. They were divided into 5 groups and were given a questionnaire with some gender related questions to be asked to the citizens. They had a possibility to explore the sightseeing of the capital.
Reflection groups: After the dinner they were divided into ‘Armenian families’ with their own family name to discuss the day, the seminar, to talk about their expectations and suggestions.
During the presentation of the ‘City Rally in Yerevan’ the participants shared their opinion about the city, the culture, the way of thinking, some gender related issues, etc. It was nice to see how they perceived the culture and traditions of the host country.
The seminar was so interesting, informative and full of activities that I’ll not be able to present all, so I’ll speak only about some of them.
So, the second day the participants were assigned to find some information, do a short research, a group discussion and finally a presentation on the following gender related topics: GENDER, MASCULINITY and FEMINILITY, GENDER MAINSTREAM, FEMINISM, and LGBT.
After this activity again the participants were divided into two large groups, and each group had to discuss certain topics with one of the trainers. The trainer read loudly a statement, and the group members had to express their position, whether they agreed with the statement or not, each of them was to express his/her individual point of view and if the arguments were strong enough, the members sometimes even changed their positions. All in all there were some arguable statements, such as, men and women should have the same rights and responsibilities, sex requires love, it’s important to keep virginity before marriage, the husband shouldn’t earn less than the wife, etc. All the participants were sincere and the discussion was really interesting and open.
The intercultural evening was a success: national music, dances, food, flags, country presentations, quiz, etc.
During the 1st study visit to the ‘PINK ARMENIA’ NGO which deals with gender issues, the participants got to know about the activities of the NGO and had a discussion on gender equality, typical gender issues present in Armenia, and Armenian reality in the frame of the topic.
The second part of the day was dedicated to the gender issues present in the countries of the participants.
The next day the participants had a chance to have another study visit to ‘Society without Violence’ NGO to discuss domestic violence, violence towards women caused by different circumstances. Very tough cases of violence towards women were introduced to the participants. Later some questions were asked and a hot discussion started on the topic.
After lunch an excursion was organized to the Armenian pagan temple Garni and Geghard monastery. The participants were excited by the Armenian nature, picturesque views and architecture. The culmination of the day was the dinner in one of the best Armenian restaurants, were traditional food and wine was served. Full of positive emotions the day came to its end.
The next days the participants presented their organizations and the NGOs they work for. Youth in Action program and Erasmus + were introduced to the participants.
In 3 small groups the participants were introduced EVS, youth exchanges, training and networking and they were free to ask questions for more information, in case they want to apply to any of them.
After a musical energizer the participants were assigned to gather in their groups that they formed the day before to develop some ideas for future projects. Today, however, they were to write real projects, following the aims and the objectives. To reach their final goal, the 5 W questions were introduced to them. After the coffee break they presented their projects, which were accompanied by questions and discussions.
The last day of the seminar: everyone is excited and they have the possibility to express their feelings, emotions, wishes and gratitude.
After the participants were delivered the final evaluation papers and had free time to prepare for the Easter dinner and farewell party.
As to me, I was a project assistant and PR manager of the project, but I also did my best to participate in it. I really learnt a lot on the topic, what more, I once again started to pay attention to my reality, but this time in the prospective of a foreigner, I once again started to notice real and vivid gender inequality issues present in my society and due to the knowledge gained at the seminar I’ll try to apply some of them in real contexts. Due to the seminar I got to know a lot of interesting, smart and good people with whom I’d like to keep in touch and do my best to meet somewhere in this world either visiting them and their marvelous countries or during some other projects. Once again I’d like to thank the “Youth Breath” NGO, the trainers Grigor Yeristayan and Ieva Grundsteine, all the participants of the seminar for one of the best and interesting week of my life, full of emotions and knowledge, smiles and hopes.
P.S. the result of my “annoying” photo-shooting you will be able to find in our group: TC: Gender Equality: From Theory to Reality. Enjoy!
With love,
Nona Simonyan

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