gender minutes from Winter Meeting

BRINGING GENDER TO PGA; minutes of discussion

gender issue pirating the agenda during discussions on Saturday, March 8

In relation to the International Women's Day, some shocking news were brought to the PGA meeting in Dijon last weekend, presented in order to show that even though we're working on issues of social change and human rights, very little of these struggles is noticed in the individual's change of behaviour. To put it bluntly, PGA is pretty sexist, in it's structure and in it's inability to deal with expressions of intimidation and haressment. In general gender is accepted as a permament discussion point on the agenda, but in reality not much changes. One of the problems is that the gender issue can not be dealt with as an exclusive topic, it has to be reflected in our behaviour, in our discussions and structures.

In agreement it was decided that the aim of the gender session must be to focus on how to find solutions and build new structures and how to bring this approach into our networks and the PGA conferences, rather than in a defensive way discuss the perception of the problem.

After some brainstorming about possible practical workshop games to hightlight the gender issue, we find out that one of the participants on the meeting is experienced in working with Psychodrama, which came in handy for the late night desicion on how to do the workshop in Sunday's gender session [e.g end of discussion..]. Thus more focus could be given to the more long-term question of how to integrate gender issues on the PGA conferences, in order to bring the issue into our working structure. Past midnight there was finally a list of proposals, to be discussed and rejected or ejected at tomorrow's gender session.


1. Day of Gender at the PGA Conference

After listening to interesting experiences from Latin America where they work with 1-2 days of gender workshops before every PGA conference, there was no doubt that this should also be tried in Europe. These days of gender are not filled with endless talks and discussions but hands-on workshops, using tried methodologies such as role plays etc., and working in small groups with focuses such as e.g. 'Masculinity for Men'. The work is done in non-mixed groups as well as in mixed groups, with plenaric feed back sessions.

These ideas were adopted by this planning group, proposing a day of gender workshops midst the next PGA conference [to make it less easy to escape it...]. The proposal includes both non-mixed group [women's groups and men's groups] but also mixed working groups for those who would feel more comfortable with this.

These groups would be involved in role plays, workshops looking at the gender issue in relation to your local environment and work and in other ways taking a constructive stance for finding ways of organising where the gender issue becomes part of the structure [and the struggle]. Some would argue that the issue itself shouldn't become part of the structure, the structures should change so as we wouldn't have to discuss such a thing as 'gender'. The discussion goes on ...

On the Gender Issue Day, space should also be given to groups working and campaigning on gender issues in relation to society, activism, globalisation etc, to present their work and give workshops. These gender campaigns shouldn't be seen as isolated phenomenon and should as well be included with workshops and discussions in the overall programme of the conference.

2. Special Invitations Gender Groups

It was noticed that not many of these groups working on gender issues participate in the PGA conferences. There could be a discussion about why, but until then, it was decided that such groups should be especially invited, with personal invitations, to participate in the programme and contribute to the Gender Day. There will be a working group on gender active from now until the next conference, but it's the responsibility lays on everyone of us to find, reach out to and invite groups working and campaigning on gender issues.

3. Exasperation Spaces [...minute taker's choice of name, really like that word ...]

As in Strasbourg, where there was a women's tent, there is again the idea to set up special spaces dedicated to serious discussions about gender, where questions and concerns can be raised. These spaces can also be a contact point for informing and supporting, in case sexual or other haressment occurs. It was discussed that there should at least be non-mixed spaces, both for women and men, and also mixed spaces if there is a need and interest to set up such as well.

4. Flyer-ing Start of Discussion

The discussions and fitted-in sessions on gender at this winter meeting, were initiated by a report on sexist behaviour and sexual haressment within the PGA movement. These things are happening all the time but not much it talked or told about it, partly as it's very painful for the concerned people, partly because of old-fashined tabus or just plain ignorance.

Therefor there is a proposal to make an Introduction Flyer, to be handed out at the beginning of the conference, introducing some of these reasons why gender should be in everyone's concept of respect and social interaction and especially make participants aware of the cases of haressments while strongly pointing out how Non-Acceptable such behaviour is.

5. Conference Questionnaire

To prepare better for the discussions and workshop on the Gender Day, there is the idea to include some gender related questions in the application form. These questions would bring attention to how gender issues are addressed and dealt with in the local group, network and structures.

These proposals were endorsed by the entire meeting at the gender session on Sunday, March 9.

Kick-Start Questionnaire

But, happy as everyone were with such fruitful and inspiring discussions, there was an ambience of impatience knowing that the next PGA conference can be happening very far away from now. Therefor point 5. on the list of proposals were taken to a decision to kick-start the questionnaires idea and ask everyone who reads this report ... and to be sure that results will be reached, the questions in question will as well be sent to the list separately, to make serious efforts to respond to the questionnaire. The aim is to collect a database of reports on how gender is dealt with locally and regionally. The report will be posted on the website. You can send your report to

PGA Gender Working Group

There is now a gender working group, set up to coordinate the preparations for the Gender Day at the next PGA conference, but as well other gender issues related to pga [as much as time allows, I guess]. If you're interested to join, contact us through the process list

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