In Belgium, the Mobilise Against Sexism project supported by the Council of Europe has been implemented by Vrouwenraad, EWL’s Dutch-speaking national coordination in the country.
Just like in other countries around the world, sexism is a significant obstacle for women’s human rights and freedoms in Belgium. However, it often goes unnoticed. People do not recognize sexism and are not aware of it being a factor that reinforces inequality between women and men.
The denial of sexism is a problematic infraction on human rights. A common way society approaches is dismissing sexism as a minor or harmless occurrence, a simple joke or a misunderstanding. Mobilizing against sexism through learning how to recognize and confront it is a much needed change. That is why Vrouwenraad, the umbrella organisation for Dutch-speaking women’s rights organisations in Belgium, decided to participate in the campaign and help end sexism across Europe.
Our campaigning efforts took multiple forms, targeting everyone who could help us achieve our goal of combating sexism. From policymakers to our followers on social media, we engaged in discussions and conversations with Belgians with different views, ideologies and ideas of sexism and tried to reach a common understanding.
Firstly, to be able to reach as many people as possible, Vrouwenraad translated the materials and distributed them in several ways, trying to spread the information to as many Belgian residents as possible. Despite a rather good legal framework on gender equality in Belgium, including a specific law on sexism at the federal level, Vrouwenraad’s research concluded that sexism is widely spread both in Flanders and in the country as a whole.
Furthermore, they recognized the importance of combating sexism through regulations and legislation. Vrouwenraad wrote letters to the members of the Parliament in Flanders, Brussels, and at the Federal level, and to the three ministers responsible for gender equality in those regions. They informed the ministers and members of the parliament on the existence of CM(REC)2019, referred them to the campaign ‘Sexism: See it. Name it. Stop it’, and asked them, depending on the policies already available at different levels, to take an initiative to translate the ministerial recommendation of the Council of Europe into law. As a result, sexism is now a major topic at the Interministerial Conference in 2021.
Information on the campaign was also published on social media, making a particular effort to engage with the audience who is familiar with the topic and willing to do something to change it, creating allies and partners.
Vrouwenraad will continue to inform and raise awareness on sexism in 2021, including specific initiatives to integrate sexism in the Council’s initiative on hate speech.
To check out in detail Vrouwenraad’s Seksisme. Herken het. Benoem het. Stop het. project more in detail click here(in Dutch).
To learn more about EWL’s collaborative Mobilise against sexism project and its implementation in other European countries click here.
To learn more about the Council of Europe’s campaign See it. Name it. Stop it. click here.