International Women's Day takes place every year on 8 March and this year the theme is #BeBoldForChange.
International Women's Day is all about challenging bias and inequality celebrating women's achievements and championing women's education. Let's take a look at five ways Erasmus+ has been striving to achieve these goals!
1. Through the origins of Erasmus+
In our recent blog post we spoke about the origins of Erasmus+, formed in 2014 from the foundations of successful predecessor European programmes. The Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action Programmes went a long way to championing women's education. The Grundtvig funded project, 'Fe:male', helped women across Europe connect in groups in order to mentor each other in business. Their website provides a wealth of resources and contacts if you’re interested in learning from other women entrepreneurs. 'Mumpreneurs in Action' was another Grundtvig funded project to support budding female entrepreneurs across Europe. One project participant said:
I am sure that some time in my life (possibly quite soon) I will set up my own business. I will take inspiration from the women I met at the meeting and the issues we discussed - Mumpreneur from the UK
2. By supporting young women's employability skills
Erasmus+ supports educational opportunities for all and we have seen some brilliant examples of young women succeeding after their Erasmus+ experiences. One participant from Bath College, 18-year-old Caitlin Brennan, worked at the Opéra Nouvel; home to the Opéra National de Lyon and the Lyon Opera Ballet. Caitlin impressed the company so much they offered her a job after her placement. Since returning to the UK she has secured a full-time job and said the experience had made her realise she had the skills and confidence to get her new job as a qualified nail technician in Bristol.
3. Narrowing the gender divide in STEM
Organisations such as Sheffield College are encouraging women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers where in the UK, only 15.5% cent of the STEM workforce are women. The 'Mind the Gap' Key Action 2 Strategic Partnership in Vocational Education and Training (VET) aims to address an ongoing skills gap in the STEM sector at an international level and increasing drop-out rates of girls in STEM. The project works directly with VET teachers, as well as 16-18 year old girls studying or who dropped out or studied without going on to pursue a career in STEM.
For Barbara Gorda, a Biochemistry student looking to work within the research industry, it was essential for Barbara to get experience and an Erasmus+ traineeship perfectly fitted the bill. The placement at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in Gothenburg, Sweden, was for one year and based within the cellular Reagents & Assay Development team. She said:
I personally think the experience of doing a placement year abroad led me closer to finding my true self and opened up many opportunities and choices for my future life - Barbara Gorda, participant
4. Celebrating inclusion for all
At Erasmus+ we love to hear about the achievements of our beneficiaries. We recently heard from Andrea Sapundjija who has cerebral palsy and studied abroad in Spain. She shared her experiences in a recent blog post for us, explaining what it was like being one of the few students on campus using a wheelchair. Andrea was even interviewed by Andalusian regional TV, Canal Sur, while on her placement. She shared her thoughts about the interview:
My story was broadcast for the regional news and I felt like a movie star! I’m really pleased that they used my experience as a way to raise the awareness about the needs of students with disabilities - Andrea Sapundjija, participant
5. Highlighting achievements from the last 30 years and looking to the future
To celebrate 30 years of Erasmus+ we will be showcasing inspirational people who have taken part in the Erasmus+ journey. Our first inspirational person was Tania Habimana, who studied International Business and German at Cardiff University. Today Tania runs her own enterprise which comprises of a suit business and a TV series about her company in which she interviews her clients about successfully growing businesses in Africa while making suits for them. She balances all this while writing for Elle South Africa.
To find out more about International Women's Day, don't forget to go to their website and use the hashtags #IWD2017 and #BeBoldForChange.