9 Months Building a Feminist Barcelona

Article by the Gender Policy Group of Barcelona en Comú in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016

In its first nine months in office in Barcelona City Hall, our government has introduced clear gender equality policies to fight for a fairer, more equitable and equal city that enables women to be the protagonists they deserve to be. 
A good example of this is the creation of the Department of Life Cycles, Feminisms and LGBTI. In nine months, this department has carried out a range of projects, campaigns and studies.

Our commitment to the personal and social promotion of women and to the fight against all discrimination and sexist violence is demonstrated by the government’s action to tackle sexist violence in Barcelona more effectively. The budget for this area of work has been increased by 1.3 million Euros for 2016, bringing total spending on the fight against sexist violence to almost 6 million Euros. At the end of the year, this budget will be reviewed with a view to achieving the goals of the government between 2017 and 2019.

Among other concrete actions, an evaluation of the city’s mechanisms to prevent violence against women has been carried out in order to identify ways to improve them and to strengthen services and professional teams in this area. In addition, a mourning protocol is being developed with the city’s feminist movements with the aim of systematically visibilizing public condemnation of femicide and attempted femicide. In the framework of this measure, in November the government launched the communication campaign: “Barcelona rejects sexist violence” to raise citizen awareness of the sexist violence experienced by women in personal, professional and community life.

Poster from the “Barcelona Rejects Sexist Violence” campaign

An expert group has undertaken a study on forced marriage and female genital mutilation in the city in order to understand the reality of these forms of violence and develop appropriate measures to tackle them.
 
Commitment to gender mainstreaming

The Department of Life Cycles, Feminisms and LGBTI is also working to develop a coordinated gender mainstreaming strategy for the city council. The councilor in charge, Laura Pérez, has made clear that this is a priority for the government. In line with this strategy, the results and recommendations of the ‘Intersectoral working group against the feminization of poverty’ are now being finalized. The group’s report will addresses the feminization of poverty from the perspective of four priority areas: the employment market, life sustainability, the right to housing and the right to health. The mainstreaming strategy will be defined by means of a participatory process that includes more than 25 city associations and more than 20 municipal areas, departments and institutes. The results, conclusions and recommendations from this process are expected at the end of May.

The commitment to gender mainstreaming has also led to the creation of the Department for Gender Mainstreaming in the office of the First Deputy Mayor, and to the establishment of spaces and experts responsible for promoting gender equality across all policy areas, departments and districts. Examples of newly created departments include, the Department for Gender Equality and Human Resources Management to carry out and follow up on the Plan for Equality between Men and Women; the Department of Time and the Care Economy in the Commission for the Social Economy, and the Working Group on Budgets with a Gender Perspective, under the Directorate of the Presidency and the Economy.
 
One of the goals of the Department for Life Cycles, Feminisms and LGBTI is to introduce a gender perspective into all municipal economic policy. To achieve this, an analysis of the city hall budget is being undertaken, with the aim of improving the equality impact of the 2017 budget. One of the first measures undertaken in favour of gender mainstreaming in municipal economic policy is to introduce gender equality criteria and clauses into council procurement processes. This will ensure that contracts and outsourcing bring social benefits and promote gender equity. Gender clauses have already been included in home care, Tele-care and social canteen contracts.

A gender perspective has also been introduced as a key element of all public grants. For example, the conditions for grants in 2016 give a 0.5% bonus to projects developed with a gender perspective.

Measures to tackle discrimination against LGBTI people

Feminist policy includes tackling all discrimination against LGBTI people. For this reason, the Department for Life Cycles, Feminisms and LGBTI has undertaken an important set of measures to promote the equal treatment of this group. Among other actions, a new line of grants has been established for projects that defend sexual diversity and tackle LGBTI-phobia. A participatory process with the LGBTI movement has been carried out in order to design the City’s LGBTI Resource Centre, and a new LGBTI Plan for Barcelona is in development.

Two expert studies are underway to understand the reality of intersex and trans people in the city and to improve policies to tackle discrimination against them. The first is a report on the different realities, positions and demands of the intersex population of Barcelona, led by Dr. Núria Gregori, social anthropologist at Elx University, and the second is a report on support and assistance for trans people in Barcelona with a depathologizing perspective, led by Cristina Garaizabal, clinical psychologist specializing in sexual diversity and gender.