Europe live per World Café

What is the historical (social, national, religious) background of the situation of women in their country? How does this influence the current situation of women today? What are the challenges – and how can we deal with them?

These questions were discussed in the first round of the online World Café, which brought together 23 women from six partner organisations from Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland and Poland. They were discussed in small or language groups, the answers recorded on a padlet and then presented to everyone. They could not have been more different: The Estonian participants talked about the island of Kihnu, which is matriarchal. Their Polish interlocutors spoke of women being “in the second row”, especially in the countryside, and of the fact that religious views still claim women to be inferior. A look at the past of West and East Germany in turn revealed different lines of tradition. The independent women’s movement in the GDR in the 1980s was mentioned as a positive example. When asked about the reasons for the differences in Europe, it was noticeable that equality was/is apparently greater in regions where the (Catholic) Church has rather little influence. Further keywords can be found in this pad.

A second round was dedicated to “Elder women in society”. When is a woman perceived as “elder”? How has this changed compared to the past? What can we do as a society to make elder women feel integrated and comfortable? It was unanimously stated that elder women tend to be overlooked, made invisible. They were not featured in advertising and there were hardly any female presenters in the media who were older than 50. And there is only little talk about the phenomenon of menopause. Nevertheless, elder women have often developed wisdom, are experienced, have acquired knowledge and have lived their own lives. This contrasts with recognition: since household and family work is often not financially compensated and they sometimes have interrupted employment histories, they receive lower pensions. Due to part-time work and lower wages, they would then be considered “less successful”. Some of the thoughts were captured on this pad.

The time just flew by and the participants were impressed by the wealth of thoughts and questions, which would have been “full-length” topics in themselves.