Europa Nostra celebrates #Women4Heritage in intergenerational dialogue to mark International Women’s Day

For the second year in a row, Europa Nostra celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022 gathering its #Women4Heritage Network. The online event brought together women, whose life mission is protecting and enhancing cultural heritage, in an energising and inspiring intergenerational dialogue. Over 70 women across generations, disciplines and continents shared their stories, challenges and successes, and how supporting each other has facilitated both personal and professional development. Special tribute was paid to the courageous women in Ukraine, who are protecting their lives, homes and identity, but also our shared values and cultural heritage.

 

The online event gathered various special guests. The introductory remarks were delivered by Snezhina Petrova on behalf of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. Catherine Magnant, Head of Unit, Cultural Policy, DG EAC, European Commission, and Sabine Verheyen, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee, jointly delivered the concluding words. The online event was moderated by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Emerging and well-established professionals made a series of inspirational speeches, including Araceli Pereda Alonso, President of Hispania Nostra, country representation of Europa Nostra in Spain; Pravali Vangeti, Associate Project Officer at UNESCO World Heritage Centre and European Heritage Youth Ambassador, Europa Nostra/ESACH; Lydia Karras, President of Elliniki Etairia, country representation of Europa Nostra in Greece; Miruna Găman, PhD student in Cultural Studies, Project Manager at ARCHÉ Association, and Trainee at Europa Nostra / ESACH; Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, Director of the International Cultural Centre in Krakow; and Georgia Evans, Editorial Officer, Community & Partner Engagement Team, Europeana. Manon Richard, EU Projects Officer at Europa Nostra presented the future plans for the #Women4Heritage Network, while Lorena Aldana-Ortega, European Policy Coordinator at Europa Nostra, outlined the main points to be taken from the discussions.

In her address, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović drew special attention to the statement Europa Nostra stands in solidarity with Ukraine, issued on 25 February, and praised the bravery of the women and citizens of Ukraine, who are safeguarding their country’s cultural heritage, following the brutal invasion by Russia’s army of Ukraine. “This conflict is between two concepts: the power of democracy versus the power of dictatorship,” she emphasised.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra noted that the second edition of the #Women4Heritage event, organised during the European Year of Youth, is dedicated to the mutual inspiration arisen from intergenerational dialogue.

In her special address, Snezhina Petrova, on behalf of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, stressed that that “Europe needs the vision of women and girls to build a future that is more sustainable, inclusive and digital” and that this vision needs to address inequalities. She then presented the brand new social media campaign #SHEULeads launched by the European Commission as part of the European Year of Youth.

Araceli Pereda Alonso affirmed that “We all have the right and the duty to uphold cultural heritage” as a provider of identity, a driver of peace and a facilitator of co-existence. Lydia Karras, President of Elliniki Etairia, highlighted the fundamental importance of nature and cultural heritage to our identity and said that “rallying around heritage is an act of democracy”.

Pravali Vangeti paid tribute to the roads opened by Melina Mercouri, who in 1985 proposed the European Capitals of Culture initiative, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General at UNESCO. Miruna Găman expressed her gratitude for the women in the sector who shared their experiences with her and shaped her into the emerging professional she is today, while Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik further stressed the idea of heritage as a way of understanding others. In this respect, she thanked the ICC for organising an exhibition dedicated to Ukrainian artists. Georgia Evans shared her thoughts on the #Women4Heritage Network, arguing that it is an important space to share opinions, affirm the value of new voices and connect with the women in leadership roles, therefore reinforcing the role of intergenerational dialogue as a generator for innovation in the field.

In her concluding remarks, Sabine Verheyen emphasised that there are still many steps to be taken in order to strengthen women’s rights and that more needs to be done to address the pay gap and still unequal position of young women in the sector, considering especially the huge contribution of youth to spur innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. Catherine Magnant stressed the importance of a solid network in empowering women and strengthening our shared cultural heritage, with the all-female taskforce responsible for implementing the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 being a prime example of what women in the sector can achieve together.

A series of good practices have also been mentioned throughout the event, namely Erfgoed Jong, a network of young Dutch enthusiasts in cultural heritage; MedinaStories, a youth-led initiative focused on the 10 Maghreb Medinas inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; or Women’s Museum Hittisau, which in 2021 received one of six Special Commendations of the European Museum Award. The European Heritage Youth Ambassadors Programme by Europa Nostra and ESACH was also highlighted as a good practice to empower young women in the heritage field.

The event closed with a tour de table, in which participants took the floor one after the other and shared their thoughts on what more can be done for women in the cultural heritage sector or recalled their experiences, in an intimate and sorority-like atmosphere.

Join the #Women4Heritage Network

The #Women4Heritage Network, launched by Europa Nostra in 2021, counts more than 180 female members. The network aims at bringing together female heritage professionals and volunteers from across Europe and the world in an exchange of information, ideas and opportunities, as well as to foster new partnerships, inspire other women and have a more powerful collective voice, thus also boosting the innovation within the sector. In this sense, Europa Nostra would like to extend a warm invitation for joining its dedicated LinkedIn group. The network will feature annual gatherings and trigger constant engagement throughout the year in order to facilitate peer-learning.

The #Women4Heritage activities will be scaled up in the next three years thanks to the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union through our Network project European Cultural Heritage Agora: “Empowering Europe’s Civil Society Movement for Heritage” (2022-2024).

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