Catalonia, gender equality and politics…

This week I have the opportunity to be invited as Global Goodwill Ambassador for the Women Economic Forum in Barcelona, Spain for a meeting “Women exercising power in the decision-making process” organizing by ANUE , a Spanish NGO of United Nations. They were representatives of different local organizations, political leaders and the support of the Institute for Women of Catalonia.

The event was as surrealist as the picture in which as Rene Magritte expressed: “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see”

I have analysing Catalonia conflict through my articles and social media debate and I prepared myself to see an aggressive society and leaders sensible and defensive, particularly with new organisations or/and people, even if the event was about a global and common women interest as to achieve SDG 5: gender equality that seems to be out of any political consideration.

I was extremely surprised to realize that it was not “support Catalonia independence or not” the issue. “When we knew all the answers they changed the questions”. Only to interact a couple of days with their citizens I feel their hospitality, charm although within touch of resignation. Just a pacific society going through conflictive times. The scenario was different at the event in which the Catalonia crisis was almost a “taboo” not to mention their sense of institutional competition with a clear confrontation among them, even if they are supposed to hold the same goals.  In the end another rusty system of organizations that depend financially from the State within a very old way of developing their agendas and a “curious” leadership. In fact, all positions were related to their portion of power, exposing the consequences of the wrong management of public resources.

It leads me to conclude that the Catalan movement, despite a historical wish to be independent- they are claiming for changes because of a system that is sinking from their own roots –also at Spanish Central Government level- and instead of implementing the hard process of changing local structures they go through the even harder and conflictive action of claiming independence. It’s a complex scenario of multiple factors but there is also an imperative to change their internal structures if the final goal is to become totally inserted in a global world with higher standards. It is a matter of priorities, to consolidate an international goal is essential to create resilience at the local level.

It was shocking to know that it was pacifically accepted that there were no synergies among the different organisations and that they do not use social media much precisely to avoid more confrontation. A point that makes the achievement of global goals difficult as social media is an absolute axis for any initiative particularly directly to empower women and not just “assist” them in emergency situations. A point that is exactly the contrary of what is being done by the Women Economic Forum/ALL Ladies League in which innovation, social media, connections, communication, and interaction are the main drivers.

All the analysis done by us in our blog about institutional crisis and the need to make reforms to get to Global Goals -also on gender equality- seems to be consistent once again, with reality.

The idea of making gender equality a “patrimony” of the State represents a very old approach to tackle women´s needs, as they are not directly connected to empowerment. The same is extended to their own organizations; this link with the public sector does not allow them to develop creativity and holistic approaches on the basis of a healthy connection. Therefore a network of counterbalance actions is not developed.

The goal of the event was to consider and debate the need for a 5th World Conference of Women 2022 by United Nations. A goal that was not achieved, despite the fact that they all agreed on their need, they get lost in terms of agenda, positions, and vision. Only good intentions are not enough to address gender equality from an International Conference, in addition, to be hosted by United Nations. An extremely politicized process in a historical momentum in which there is no clear commitment towards gender equality and to United Nations. That is the case of US and Israel withdrawing from UNESCO, Israel-Palestine conflict that had an impact at all levels, or the growing extremism in Middle East that marks and inflection point for women.

Because of this disconnection with global perspectives and current political context based on isolationism and extremism is that there were no conclusions about possible outcomes for a 5th Conference. Even if the event was hosted by a UN institution they did not establish how United Nations is enough united and with the capacity to deliver. A true contradiction very much aligned with the atmosphere of this event, in which surprisingly, all of them agreed that “gender is politics” and part of “ideological positions”. Walking towards SDG 5 supposes global values out of politics and above all “political game” within the complimentary of different initiatives, in addition to an increasing action from the private sector and a coordinated action with the civil society. The idea of creating women equity from financial public dependence and weak institutional cooperation without synergies women-politics-organizations and avoiding the use of social media is clearly not the way the world is moving towards sustainable, developed and global goals.

Most of the event was run in the Catalan language as a clear need to reinforce their identity even if an international platform was invited as Women Economic Forum and the purpose of the event was to discuss the possibilities for an International Conference that demand signs of global attitudes and openness.

As conclusion, it is good to reflect that when Catalan nationalism looks weak at strategically level is directly connected to the contradiction of a revolutionary reform within traditional/rusty internal structures and an old leadership style that adds more confusion to an already chaotic scenario.

It was a “political event” by the contrary of what we do, believe and act within the global platform Women Economic Forum and global structure of ALL Ladies League that is about empowering women and work with institutions as catalyzers, not owners of the process. 

My conviction that traditional institutions are in crisis and there is a need to create new structures, goes directly connected to that point: building synergies that naturally boost holistic approaches of complementarity and communication towards an innovative system of counterbalance power.

Walking towards results-driven strategies and realism on gender equality…

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