EDITING & LAYOUT
Union of the Baltic Cities
Waly Jagiellonskie 1
tel. +48 58 3010917
tel. +48 58 3019123 fax +48 58 3017637
City of Tartu /
Dear UBC Friends,
Our vision stated in the UBC Strategy is to see the Baltic Sea cities promoting equal opportunities for all, by tackling causes of social exclusion and countering all forms of discrimination.
Gender perspective included into the city's policy is one step towards this vision. Equality of women and men is a fundamental right and an essential democratic value and that should be taken for granted. A legal recognition seems to be satisfying, the situation looks worse when it comes to the enforcement. Salary disparities, political under-representation, gender stereotypes, are only a few from all existing problems.
Meanwhile, the gender equality seems to be a necessary condition for the achievement of the EU objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion. The economic calculation shows that providing equal opportunities for women and men simply pays off to the society.The studies on gender budgeting conclude that by eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market, in salaries and benefits, not only women's income but also the national income would increase.
Many UBC cities have already decided to put theory into practice and have integrated gender perspective into the their policies and management, including e.g. urban planning and transportation. Some of them, mainly in Denmarkand Sweden, have adopted gender equality strategies.This issue of Bulletin presents how they face the challenge to provide equal and high quality services to all citizens regardless their sex. The practical information on the tools and descriptions of the revision mechanisms may be helpful for those cities who are at the starting point in implementation of the gender equality policy.
Also, gender education plays a crucial role as it increases the awareness, helps to discourage discrimination and to remove ingrained habits and stereotypes.
Other articles describe e.g. numerous projects answering an urgent need for cooperation and exchange of good practices on opposing and preventing domestic violence against women. According to the statistics, every fifth woman in the area the South Baltic has been subjected to domestic violence. The crisis centres offer multi-dimensional support for victims and also disseminate knowledge about violence in intimate relationships.
The cities, moreover, focus on the role of local authorities and municipal institutions in providing equal chances at the labour markets. EU funded projects addressed to women and men support entrepreneurship, education, training, counseling, etc.
This is just the overview of the interesting and inspiring content of this Bulletin. We are learning from each other so let it be a basis for futher discussions and exchange of experiences.
There is still so much to do to create a truly egalitarian society. I believe the local and regional authorities are the most appropriate levels to combat the persistence and the reproduction of inequalities.They can, through their competences, and through co-operation with the whole range of local actors, undertake concrete actions in favour of equality of women and men.
With Baltic Sea greetings,
Per Bodker Andersen
President of UBC
Kolding, October 2010