2022 Pretoro (Italy) – “Gender inequality”

October 8, 2022 we left a “super busy” Amsterdam Airport (Schiphol) to fly to Rome as representatives of the Digg’Out Foundation, from there we would go by bus and train to Pretoro in the Apennines to participate in the Erasmus+ project on Gender inequality.

9 October at 6 pm we were met by Luca together with participants from different countries to go to a Hotel in the Appenijnen. The hotel was run by a super sweet and cheerful family whose mascot is the small dog Bianca. Bianca stole immediately the heart of all the participants. After a communal dinner during which we got to know each other a little bit better, we went to our seperate rooms in anticipation of the start of this sublime project.

The next morning we introduced ourselves to the group and presented our organizations to eachother. We got to know eachother better through workshops, training, energizers and games. We were  truly amazed by the enthusiasm of all the participants, many of whom often tried to guide and help their target groups under at times very difficult circumstances. The ladies from Georgia amazed us with their enthusiasm, passion and abilities. We noticed the enormous differences in approach and method a country like Iceland followed, compared to other countries. In Iceland could both parents get 2 years maternity leave. Estonia, Lithuania and Denmark were very progressive in approach as well: we heard of wonderful projects providing aid to young people to realize their dream. In hard countrast it was sad to learn that in a country like Armenia people faced threats and acts of war. One can understand that it is very hard to support woman under these circumstances. We heard about countries where participants have to live under dictators and found it very difficult who to trust and who cannot be trusted.

Gender is complex topic. It is hard to define and shaped by powerful factors such as religion, tradition and culture. The role of men and women are therefore fluid in time. During a session the participants have tried to illustrate the postion of women in our own countries.

Each participant shared a piece of his/her culture, struggles and ideals with us, leading to sessions that lasted from 8.30 in the morning until often 1.00 in the night during which we talked, played games and exchanged experiences. Through the roleplay and the rewriting of a story/fairy tale in a gender-friendly manner, we became aware of how one-sided our thinking in gender-unequal language and also our attitude towards gender in fact still is.
Especially the last day when we were allowed to write our own project with the participants from Iceland, we saw what it takes to organize something like this for our own organization Digg’Out.

Luca and Livia were great in coaching the entire group; they gave us good new insights: matters that we took for granted before this training, were now seen as twisted. We felt how privileged we actually were to be able to grow up in a country like the Netherlands with the freedom to live your life the way you want it (up to a certain level, of course) and with proper education, good medical care and so on. The stories of the other participants inspired us: we would like to organize a project in the Netherlands for Digg’out ourselves.

The last day had a wonderful surprise in stall: Luca organized a visit to a wolf sanctuary, beside a guided tour through the beautiful village of Pretoro. In short, our stay in Italy was a great experience in which we learned so much and met such wonderful people. We hope that we can realize our wish to be able to guide the participants in the Netherlands.

Karin Buis and Nezahat Bucak.

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