Gender Alternatives becomes part of a pilot project ‘Capacity building for Roma civil society and strengthening its involvement in the monitoring of national Roma integration strategies’. The pilot project is managed by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG Justice). It is coordinated by the Central European University (CEU), in partnership with the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO), the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) and the Roma Education Fund (REF).
The objective of the pilot project is to contribute to strengthening the monitoring mechanisms of the implementation of the national Roma integration strategies through systematic civil society monitoring. The additional value of civil society monitoring comes from the independent status and the field experience of participating NGOs. The pilot project aims to enhance civil society monitoring in two key ways: by developing the policy monitoring capacities of civil society actors, and by supporting the preparation of high-quality, comprehensive annual civil society monitoring reports.
The monitoring shall focus on how the national Roma integration strategies of EU member states are implemented. It shall cover 9 thematic fields and horizontal issues: governance, education, employment, health care, housing, anti-discrimination, addressing antigypsyism, participation of Roma and gender equality.
We are thrilled to be part of this initiative. Our application was chosen among 89 other applicantions. Overall, 10 Bulgarian NGOs are chosen, which are: Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance, Gender Alternatives Foundation, Indy Roma 97 Social Foundation, Knowledge Association Lovech, Largo Association, National Network for Children, Resource Centre for Education and Culture SHAM, Roma Academy for Culture and Education, Roma Foundation ‘Iskra’, World Without Borders.
The concepts of violence and harassment change with societal dynamics and go beyond a face-to-face confrontation between two people. Harassing behavior can occur over a telephone line, in writing, and, thanks to modern technology, over the Internet.
Among the various violent behaviors, the following emerge as particularly common across EU Member States: sexting, submission of nasty messages or emails, threats through the use of ICTs, spreading fake information/defamation, posting humiliating videos or photos without consent, personification in the form of hacking into social network accounts, stalking, blackmailing, happy slapping, name calling, and exclusion.
Although online harassment may be carried out in different ways, the detrimental effects that such behaviours can have on the life of victims are psychological maladjustment, social isolation, feelings of unsafety.
Who is harassed: Age and gender are most closely associated with the experience of online harassment. Among online adults:
Young adults, those 18-29, are more likely than any other demographic group to experience online harassment.
Young women, those 18-24, experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment. In addition, they do not escape the heightened rates of physical threats and sustained harassment common to their male peers and young people in general.
Can awareness-raising on gender stereotypes and on the sexualisation of women in digital media support the prevention of sexual violence and harassment against women and girls? The CONVEY project sets out to answer this question.
Through the development of an online game and the implementation of a training programme for teachers and students of secondary schools, the project will aim to foster the respect of women’s rights and to change the behaviour of young people that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to gender violence.
The project implementation started on September 1st 2016 through the work of the experienced project partners: Gender Alternatives Foundation (Bulgaria), Hope for Children (Cyprus), The Smile of the Child (Greece), Sexual Violence Centre Cork (Ireland), Westminster City Council (UK).
The project is funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programmer of the DG Justice and Consumers of the European Union.
 CYBERBULLYING AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE (STUDY) - Directorate General For Internal Policies Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights And Constitutional Affairs Civil Liberties, Justice And Home Affairs, p.28 (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571367/IPOL_STU(2016)571367_EN.pdf)
 Ibid. p.28
 Online Harassment http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/
The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences is seeking information in preparation of her country visit to Bulgaria scheduled to take place from 15 to 23 May 2017.The Special Rapporteur will address violence against women broadly, focusing on both its causes and consequences.
The Special Rapporteur will study:
• The different manifestations of violence against women• The incorporation of the international and regional legal framework on violence against women• The State responses and measures to address violence against women (constitutional, legislative, and institutional framework, as well as inter-sectorial responses to violence against women)• Implications of discrimination against women and discriminatory gender stereotypes on violence against women• Gaps and challenges in fulfilling the State’s obligations to eliminate violence against women (prevention, protection, prosecution)• Policy and legislative framework and/or guidelines concerning protection orders and shelters’ operations procedures and their shortcomings• Good practices aimed at promoting gender equality and eliminating violence against women, including data collection initiatives to prevent femicide and all forms of gender based violence
Read more: Call for submissions: Country visit to Bulgaria
On the 7.03.2017, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was held the first expert consulting group for developing an awareness-raising video and of conceptualizing the content of an online game aiming to raise awareness among young people about the potential risks associated to gender stereotyping and the sexualisation of women.
The expert consulting group is unique as it is made up of a psychologist experienced in supporting women victims of violence, a social welfare officer/social worker, and two women survivors of sexual violence or of sexual harassment. The aims of such meetings are to contribute to the development of the game, to learn from the experts and survivors’ knowledge and experiences, to unveil the factors linked to gender stereotypes and gender roles contributing to sexual violence and sexual harassment.
The meeting was very interesting and innovative – it marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration for creation of real and genuine products which will be used in the prevention of sexual violence and harassment among young people.
The expert consulting group is expected to meet at least 3 times during the conceptualisation phase of the project online game.
The first meeting was held on 11.03.2017 under the project CONVEY- Counteracting sexual violence and harassment: Engaging Youth in schools in digital education on gender stereotyping.
A total number of 12 young people aged 16-18 years participated. The youths are part of the Bulgarian Youth Red Cross – Plovdiv. The first meeting marked the beginning of an online simulation game development, aiming at educating and raising awareness on gender stereotyping and sexualisation of women and men. The online simulation game will be used as a tool to educate and contribute to change behaviour and attitudes of young people in relation to violence, harassment and gender stereotyping.
The young volunteers will take part in 6 meetings on the creation of the video game and contribute with their perspective on gender stereotypes, sexual violence and harassment, to the development of the online simulation game. Firstly, peer consultants will provide inputs and feedback to the development of the online simulation game. Then, peer consultants will participate in the testing of the tool.
The interactive game will allow young people to build themselves a story, through the choice of interchangeable characters and paths of history. Whatever the combination chosen by young people, the story will always contain some fixed elements, aiming at transferring to young people some of the cognitive elements of the project and to raise awareness about the potential risks associated to gender stereotyping and sexualisation of females and males.
This project is co-funded by the Rights, Equality & Citizenship Programme of the European Union and it’s being implemented by organisations in 6 EU countries: CESIE (IT), The Smile of the Child (GR), Hope for Children (CY), Sexual Violence Centre Cork (IE), Gender Alternatives (BG), Westminster City Council (UK).
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