Today, on Europe Day 2018, Chwarae Teg is celebrating the impact EU-funding is having on women and businesses in Wales through its Agile Nation 2 programme and reflecting on its transnational work over the years. In the same way, Member States across the European Union, will also be flying the EU flag alongside their own to show their support to this important transnational partnership. At the same time, however, there will probably be a lot of people scratching their heads too, wondering what the day is all about and why, if we are exiting the EU, we are continuing to mark the occasion.

On this day in 1950, the Schuman Declaration was proposed by the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman. The proposal was for a single authority to govern the production of steel and coal in France and West Germany but with the offer for other European countries to join. This laid the foundation for the Schuman plan which would bring about benefits for the French and German economies but also lay the foundations for peace between the two nations. The Declaration stated “world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts, proportionate to the dangers which threaten it” and that this pact would make war between allies “not merely unthinkable but materially impossible. This important partnership agreement then paved the way for the future creation of the EU.

A recent business trip in April to Brussels for Chwarae Teg team members Tash and Lou was a great reminder of how “creative efforts” are the only way to tackle issues in Wales and that many of the things we are fighting for at Chwarae Teg, are the same as those of our European allies.

At the conference ‘Fostering Gender Equality in the Workplace: Developing Inclusive Labour Markets for Women across the EU’, we were able to see that Wales is ahead of the game in terms of gender pay gap reporting which was very encouraging and also, that there are other EU Member States who are leading the way in terms of legislation and best practice. In Iceland, for example, in a ground-breaking move for gender equality in the workplace, companies must prove they pay men and women equally or face fines. Being able to promote Agile Nation2 and its research exploring men’s perceptions of gender equality in the workplace was in itself an amazing opportunity but seeing so many nodding heads in the crowd during the presentations; all empathising and sharing the challenges that Wales faces –reinforced that in our fight for gender equality, we are stronger standing together.
Sometimes, living on an island (albeit one which is a fair old size!), can mean that we can be a bit inward when we look for solutions to common problems. Conversely, at Chwarae Teg, we have always treasured our transnational links and actively promoted importing and exporting new ideas and ways of working from Wales, recognising we are one piece of a far bigger jigsaw. One way we do this is through managing a transnational network.

The Gender Wage Watchers’ EU network which we have been developing with our Estonian partners and which has a bi-monthly newsletter for followers, highlights what has been happening in the news around Europe and globally. In addition to this, it showcases projects, campaigns and best practice initiatives so that organisations like Chwarae Teg who are working to reduce the gender pay gap can promote their services and make links with other countries.

If you would like to find out more about the Gender Wage Watchers’ network, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook @genderwagewatchers