Project - Details

15.01.2009

EuroFIA Project 2009-2010

Engendering Change: Strategies to Combat Gender Stereotypes and Promote Equal Opportunities for Performers in Theater, Film and Television in Europe

Origin of this project
This Euro-FIA project followed on from the 2008 research project, “Changing gender portrayal: Promoting employment opportunities for women in the performing arts”. It also deals with the issue of gender equality, focusing on the portrayal of women in film, television and theatre in Europe and on equal opportunities for women performers. The research conclusions of our previous project highlighted several important problems for actresses such as shorter careers; lower incomes and smaller number and variety of roles, all of which led women performers to see their gender as disadvantageous in the world of the performing arts.

The research report “Age, Gender and Performer Employment in Europe” constitutes a first and unique resource on gender portrayal and its impact on the employment opportunities of performers in Europe. It is a valuable contribution to the Commission’s overall work on gender equality, equal work for equal pay and anti-discrimination. The positive reactions and responses we have received from both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe highlight that our report can have a real strategic use in decision-making and advocating for change. You can download a copy in the research section of our website..

Aims for this project
FIA successfully acquired European Commission funding for this project, which ended in July 2010 and which aimed to move forward from research to action. The "Engendering Change" project thus built on the foundations laid by the first one and sought to identify clear strategic actions to engender change across the EU. The focus was on coming up with strategies, both at the level of performers’ unions themselves and at the level of political advocacy, at national and EU level. These strategies, examples and good practices are intended to empower and support performers’ unions to undertake action on this issue. Equally they can serve as a blueprint providing examples of possible effective political action that decision-makers can pursue. They also highlight ways in which the industry can work from within to change gender portrayal and do away with stereotyping. More precisely, our main objectives with this project were:

  • To capitalise and build upon the foundations laid in the first EuroFIA project on Gender Portrayal and use the momentum and network that have been developed to have a real impact on this issue;

  • To share and exchange good practice on combating gender stereotypes and improving representation of women in film, television and theatre in Europe;

  • To draw together these ideas and good practices in order to come up with targeted strategic recommendations for performers’ unions, policy-makers and stakeholders in the industry on how to take action on gender portrayal and equal opportunities. The aim was to work from concrete examples of both hard (such as, for example, quotas and funding criteria) and soft approaches (such as, for example, developing cultural projects or applying a gender check list approach in cultural institutions) gleaned from across the EU and to analyse what works and how. These have been brought together in the final project publication, which is a "Handbook of Good Practices" which serves to both inform and empower different relevant actors on how to develop effective strategic approaches to gender equality in their work and structures;

  • To develop and renew the commitment to gender equality in the workers’ organisations that are members of EuroFIA through the development and adoption of a FIA charter on gender to which its members should adhere;

  • To feedback the work and findings into the work carried out at European level, through the sectoral social dialogue committees on live performance and audiovisual and through contact and cooperation with the Commission and the Parliament in their work in this area;

  • To continue to develop strategic partnerships with other civil society actors active in this area.

Means to achieve this project: regional seminars and final conference
In order to carry out all these goals we decided to organize this work through five different regional seminars, bringing together representatives from the sector and relevant political and civil society actors, as well as performers themselves. Our project consultant Richard Polacek attended these five meetings to draw out and feedback the good practice identified, the recommendations made and any key ideas and suggestions developed, so that these can be drawn together in the project handbook.

The regional seminars were in many ways the vital core of the project. They were the tool in order to find the good practice and work out the practical approaches which the project aimed to gather and highlight. The regional seminars were structured around a shared discussion note and took in a range of experts and stakeholders. These included representatives of TV channels, politicians active on gender equality, theatre directors, performers, union representatives, producers, casting directors, screenwriters etc. They yielded a wealth of ideas, examples, projects and good practices to be brought together in the project handbook. They were structured in different ways: sometimes opening with one or several expert presentations to stimulate discussion, sometimes taking the form of an open exchange of views on each theme, led by the chair. In each case, the regional seminar ended with a recapping of the main points noted and elements to be carried forward for the Handbook.

Final Conference:
This event took place in two parts. The first was a one-day session in the European Parliament on the 8th of June, which was hosted by MEP Eva Britt-Svensson, chair of the FEMM committee, and a number of other interested MEPs: Mary Honeyball of the S&D Group; Marie-Christine Vergiat of the GUE Group and Cecilia Wikstrom of the ALDE Group. Mary Honeyball also provided an important link to the Culture Committee of the European Parliament. MEP Pronsias de Rossa also supported the event and was in attendance at the regional seminar in Edinburgh. The organisation of the event provided an important opportunity for FIA to raise awareness in the European Parliament about the project and its findings and to engage MEPs on this issue.

The project was also supported by the Spanish Presidency of the EU, who publicised it and included it in their official calendar. It was closely in line with the aims of the Presidency and the Ministry of Culture in Spain was present to share some of the interesting practices developed in this area in Spain, and included in the Handbook.The aim of the conference was to highlight and showcase some of the good practice gathered in the course of the 5 seminars, as well as to raise political visibility and awareness on the issue of equal opportunities and gender portrayal in film, television and theatre more generally. The event brought together a range of participants: the EuroFIA member unions, delegations from each of the regional seminars, relevant European stakeholders including European sectoral social partners, as well as decision-makers and representatives of the institutions at European level. The session in the Parliament was also a good opportunity to offer participants an indepth overview of the planned Handbook; its shape and content, as well as its use. It was a very useful chance to get feedback and input on the Handbook before proceeding towards its finalisation in the immediate aftermath of the conference.

The second session of the conference took place on the 9th of June and aimed to focus primarily on the role of performers unions on this issue and the use to be made of the handbook in their daily work. There was a lively discussion sparked by focussing on the relevant good practice examples drawn from the handbook. This in turn led into a detailed discussion and exchange on the FIA Gender Charter and responsibility and commitment which it lays down for FIA member unions.

You can also find the new "FIA Charter for Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities" below in English, French and Spanish.

The Project Handbook:
The project handbook was produced by the project consultant Richard Polacek, in close consultation with the project steering committee. It aims to set out the practical tools and approaches to really engender change in the sector and have a concrete impact on equal opportunities and gender portrayal. It draws together the findings from the regional seminars, as well as the final conference. The structure of the handbook emerged very naturally from the discussions at the seminars, with a clear pattern of certain types of good practice emerging across the different regions, so that a coherent description and classification of the different approaches could be developed.

The reactions to the Handbook both at the conference and following it have been overwhelmingly positive. The practical approach – focussing on real examples of how to make change happen – has been greatly appreciated by FIA members and other stakeholders in the industry. It empowers FIA and its membership to really advocate for change using the Handbook as a tool and a way of engaging the discussion with decision-makers, social partners and other relevant partners.

The handbook was professionally translated into Spanish and French and laid out by a professional designer, with a view to ensuring it is as widely readable and user-friendly as possible. You can visit the dedicated research section of the website in order to read more about the Handbook and download a print-ready copy in English, French or Spanish.

This projects is supported by the European Commission

FIA Charter for Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities

Charte de la FIA pour l’Egalité des Genres et l’Egalité des Chances

Carta de la FIA de Paridad de Género e Igualdad de Oportunidades