Developing sustainable solutions to mitigate the gendered inequalities caused by COVID-19 policy responses would not be possible without the involvement of stakeholders from policy, civil society and the non-profit sector. Hearing their stories and engaging them in the design process is crucial to make sure that the solutions we propose will be relevant, achievable, and replicable across different national contexts.
The RESISTIRÉ project was specifically designed with this participatory approach in mind. The three co-creation cycles that make up the project start with in-depth research in 31 European countries, leading to a collaborative elaboration of solutions in the Open Studios and culminating with the development of operational recommendations to mitigate the gendered inequalities caused, or exacerbated, by COVID-19 policy responses.
Having completed the first round of qualitative and quantitative research, our team is now preparing to host the project’s first-cycle Open Studios, taking place from the end of September to mid-October 2021. The Open Studios constitute an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to policy design, bringing together a wide diversity of participants and methods to ensure creative and innovative outputs. During these intensive two-day workshops, representatives from the project consortium will gather with activists, national researchers, policymakers, and NGO representatives to focus on four main thematic areas.
OS1 – Better is possible: improving support for healthcare workers
Healthcare workers have been operating under extremely adverse conditions since the pandemic began. As the virus spread across nations and continents, it rapidly showed a different impact on the two sexes, and particularly in the health sector where women are over-represented: it has been estimated that women make up for more than 70% of the global healthcare force. The same workers who have been praised as ‘heroes’ by the media have been exposed to a higher risk of infection, physical exhaustion, and emotional burnout as their workload increased in parallel with their unpaid care work at home. The objective of this first Open Studio will be to find innovative solutions to limit the negative impacts of pandemics like COVID-19 on health care workers, including measures to protect their mental and physical health, recommended improvements for the workplace, and solutions to counteract the long-term negative effects on the profession.
OS2 – Better is possible: solutions for inclusive telework
Seldom have we seen such a double-edged sword as teleworking. While working from home can be a great opportunity for improving one’s work-life balance, it can also lead to uneven childcare and housework responsibilities for women, a decrease in physical and mental health, and fewer occasions for social interactions that can be key for obtaining a promotion. Additionally, for women experiencing gender-based violence at home, work is often their only safe place. What can be done to ensure that teleworking represents an opportunity rather than an obstacle? Can the creation of teleworking public spaces be a solution? The second Open Studios will come up with creative solutions to address the challenges posed by digitalisation and telework after COVID-19.
OS3 – Better is possible: solutions for inclusive access to green commons
Another thematic focus will be on the importance of urban green spaces, analysed from a gender+ perspective. The confinement and lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus have highlighted the importance of having accessible, public green spaces for all in the urban landscape, showing how free and open green spaces can significantly improve the physical and mental well-being of a community. In this third Open Studio, RESISTIRÉ members and stakeholders will brainstorm ideas and best practices in designing public green spaces for diverse groups of people. They will also discuss how to ensure accessibility, prevent gender-based violence, avoid green gentrification and stimulate community initiatives for the creation of new green spaces.
OS4 – Better is possible: transforming masculinity roles
The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing progress towards gender equality to a halt: increased childcare needs, financial instability, and suspension of informal support networks are exacerbating existing inequalities and putting unfair pressure on women. In this concluding Open Studio, consortium representatives and stakeholders will focus on men’s changing perspectives of the demands of housework and childcare and improved relations with children, looking at counter-examples where men become more active to change men’s perception of their care responsibilities. What can be done to support men’s new understanding of childcare and homecare? How can we reinforce the positive effects of an equal division of household tasks? We aim to understand what works to positively transform masculinity roles for a more equal society.
Results available by October 2021