Inclusion and AEGEE: Meet the Social Equity Working Group

The Social Equity Working Group is one of the new working groups of AEGEE-Europe that works to achieve a more equal society in regards to gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, discrimination based on the place of origin and discrimination based on disabilities, along with any other topic related to social equity. The working group develops activities, events, workshops and other materials in order to achieve this, by educating young Europeans.

Meet the Team

The Current Social Equity Working Group consists of 5 members: Isabel, Florina, Dora, Ines and Marga.

Isabel is an English teacher from Valladolid, Spain. Isabel joined AEGEE nearly 4 years ago and is passionate about making society more equal.

Florina joined AEGEE-Iasi in Romania 2 years ago. Florina is a graduate of Law and EU Studies, who is passionate about human rights and communications. Florina is currently the PR responsible for the Social Equity Working Group.

Dora is currently working towards a Masters in Criminal Justice and Security in Slovenia. Dora fell in love with travelling, non-formal education and interculturalism through European Projects.

Ines is a member of AEGEE-León in France, who is currently studying Environmental Sciences. Ines works as a piano teacher and likes to read and learn about feminism.

Marga is the coordinator of the working group. Marga is a Physics graduate who is currently working towards a Masters in Education. Marga is passionate about topics related to social equity, especially feminism and LGBTQ+ rights, but tries to keep learning new things.

Why did you join the Working Group?

After years of seeing injustices everywhere and volunteering with some minorities since the age of 16, Isabel decided to take the next step and join the working group.

Florina on the other hand has been interested in human rights and social equity since the EPM in Barcelona. Florina worked on drafting the Action Agenda and was really curious about what being part of a working group was like. Florina was a part of EBs before, and thought this was the next logical step to take in the experience as an AEGEE member.

Dora was interested in social equity and inclusion during studies and volunteering. After joining AEGEE-Zagreb, the opportunity to join the Social Equity Working Group presented itself and Dora decided to apply because it seemed like an amazing experience to improve as a person and to implement activities that would create a safer and more equal world.

Ines has been active in feminism since childhood. Ines cannot imagine the world without  “purple glasses”. Ines brings an inclusive perspective in everything and that is why joining the social equity working group was important.

Marga was elected as the coordinator of the working group at the Online Spring Agora, after presenting candidature. Marga wanted to take the position in order to continue contributing to the topic (after being a member of the Equal Rights Working Group last year).

Challenges the team has faced in their roles

 Isabel said that the COVID pandemic has provided some challenges, such as no live meetings and the difficulty to organize some types of activities.

As PR Responsible, Florina thinks that the most challenging part is to actually choose the issues we want to discuss about on Social Media, since there are so many topics related to social equity but that there is not enough time or space to talk about all of them.

Dora says she hasn’t yet faced too many new challenges.

Ines says that COVID has been a great challenge since it has prevented meetings from being conducted in person.

 Much like Isabella and Ines, Marga has cited Corona as a massive challenge, as all their activities, sessions, events, training need to be conducted online, which has led to people becoming demotivated as well as feeling disconnected from other people.

Outreach during the pandemic

According to the working group, the main issue about this pandemic is that there are much fewer events than before. The working group used to present during Local Training Courses, Regional Training Courses and Network Meetings. However, due to the pandemic, there are a lot less of these kinds of events. Consequently, the Working Group has mostly conducted online events and has tried to be active on their social media accounts in an attempt to reach people.

Activities of the Working Group

The working group has various different types of training that focus on varying topics. Depending on the topic, they either present it themselves, or invite people from external non-governmental organisations and other experts that specialise on certain topics.

AEGEE and inclusivity

When asked how AEGEE could be more inclusive, the Working group commented that inclusivity is necessary in many areas. According to them, in order for society to become more inclusive, it is important for individuals to get educated and become aware of the privileges that they have. This in turn will influence their behaviour and will hopefully make their behavior more inclusive. Pointing out different discriminatory acts or comments to the people surrounding can help to start this process.

Personal experiences with discrimination in AEGEE

Unfortunately discrimination does exist in associations like AEGEE, and some of the members of this working group have had to deal with that. As a woman and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Marga has heard hateful comments from other AEGEE members. Whilst Marga believes these comments are milder than what she has heard from the rest of society. Unfortunately, Florina has also experienced discrimination within AEGEE. All members of the working group agree that AEGEE has improved in terms of inclusivity in the last few years, but that there is still work to be done. Marga also points out that AEGEE is a homogenous group in the sense that members have similar values, but that we should strive to be more inclusive. Isabel adds that we still have miles to go to make the association more inclusive so that everyone can join AEGEE and actively enjoy all the benefits, such as attending events. Florina adds that AEGEE is one of the most progressive non-governmental youth organisations and we should absolutely keep tackling discriminatory issues and raise awareness, and that as long as we keep talking about inclusiveness, equality and equity, results will follow. Dora believes that it is best to focus on prevention by educating our members. Ines says “there is a tone of general inequality that colors each event and conference, because there is a lack of education and awareness. Inequality is socially punished and frowned upon, because no one wants to be the bad guy, but we are all part of different oppressions on a daily basis that we keep quiet about and consent to as long as we are not spoilers. We need to be more aware of our privileged situation, of when we occupy a privileged place where we must be silent, listen and learn. Knowing how to position ourselves from listening is still a pending issue.”

Membership

The working group currently has all the members allowed by the CIA, so the next opportunity to become a member is going to be at the end of the current group’s term. If you are interested in joining, please check the communication channels after the Spring Agora, where the next coordinator is going to be elected. If you would like to become more familiar with the working group consider following them on social media and volunteer at some of their events such as Pride.

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