The College releases its Gender Equality Charter! - Interview of Julie FAVRIL, Student Welfare Officer / Diversity & Inclusion Advisor

At the College of Europe, we are dedicated to ensure an academic and professional environment that values and promotes gender equality among its members. That is why our Working Party on Gender Equality wrote a gender equality charter for the College.

Julie FAVRIL, our Student Welfare Officer / Diversity & Inclusion Advisor, will tell us more about the charter:

What does the charter consist of?

The charter around gender equality consists of two major components. The first part is the charter itself that defines the context and goals of the charter. It describes why this charter is important and what the exact goal is. The charter also describes eight specific objectives and these have more details about our commitments to work towards gender equality at the College.

The second aspect is the implementation of the charter. It will be updated annually and build on what the College has done in the field of gender equality.

What exactly is the purpose of the charter?

The charter was drafted by the ‘Working Party on Gender Equality’. A group of both faculty, staff and students from both campuses. Although the College has already raised awareness around the issue of gender inequality, the problem is that there were no written documents or guidelines about it. That’s why the charter is necessary.

Why is the charter so important?

Only in an environment where all genders are treated equally, everyone can develop their full potential and be themselves. This applies to both students and our staff. So, the goal of the charter is that every student and every staff member of the College is free and feels safe to express their gender identity without fearing discrimination. An additional reason why the charter is important to the College is that gender equality is one of the essential values of the European Union, and the College wants to set an example.

What are the next steps on gender equality and the charter’s implementations?

The first step, of course, is the publication of the charter. It has been around for a while, but it hasn’t been published yet. The aim is for all our students and staff to learn about the charter and to spread the word. In addition, a completely new webpage around diversity and inclusion will soon be published on the website.

It is important to note that the charter is a 'living' document. Specific steps will be taken each year and, consequently, the charter will change through time. Therefore, a second objective is to review the implementation of the charter every year according to what has been done during the year. We will also think about the following year and what new goals we want to set.

What else do you think the College can do to raise awareness around gender equality?

On the 8 of March, the College celebrated International Women’s Day. It is important that we continue to draw attention to this day because although progress has already been made, there is still room for improvement. Highlighting gender inequality once a year is obviously not enough. Throughout the year, the College should provide opportunities to learn about the current state of affairs and why there is still work to be done.

Second, we must encourage people to dare to call out discrimination and actively stand up against it. For example, if you hear misogynistic comments, you should dare to stand up and speak out.

Perhaps the most important and difficult thing to do is to get men on board. We still note that the initiatives around gender equality are mostly organized by women for women. But as the charter says, it is not just about women. To get equality, we need allies. As long as men are not on board, there will always be inequality. In practice, we do see more and more men participating in discussions and events but there is still inequality.

What are the College of Europe’s strengths around gender equality?

One of the things I personally like and am proud of is that at the College, many department heads and our Rector are female. This does not only provides a safe environment to discuss issues such as gender equality, but also the necessary support to initiate change. In our current society, top management of companies very often consists of men. At the College, 55% of the managers are female, that includes 4 female Directors of Studies.

Another important thing for the College is our Code of Conduct, installing a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination or (sexual) harassment, through strong preventive action and transparent remedies. This is an important mechanism in fostering a safe and respectful environment at the College.

To conclude I would like to say that gender equality is definitely something we can call ‘work in progress’, there is still a long way to go. But I think the charter gives us a great opportunity to keep talking about it and to build towards a better future.

Read our Gender Equality Charter and discover everything there is to know about what the College is doing for Gender Equality and Diversity.