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Culture ministers of Croatia, Germany, Portugal talk women’s role in culture

ZAGREB, Nov 25 (Hina) – The culture ministers of Germany, Croatia and Portugal have jointly warned about the important, yet the still underrepresented role of women in arts and culture, calling on their European colleagues to cooperate in putting gender equality into the framework of Europe’s culture policy.

In an article for the German magazine “The European”, German Culture and Media Minister Monika Gruetters, Croatian Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek, and Portuguese Culture Minister Graca Fonseca speak of gender equality in culture and its need for strengthening cultural diversity,

“In recent decades, women in culture have increasingly moved out of the shadow of their male counterparts. But the road to greater gender equality remains steep and rocky. Not enough has been achieved since 1982 when the American artist Isabel Bishop was quoted as saying, ‘I didn’t want to be a woman artist. I just wanted to be an artist’,” the ministers say.

“On the contrary, we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on public life have hit the cultural and creative sector hard and reversed much of the progress made so far. There is a growing cause for concern that the success achieved by women artists and other women in creative fields could be wiped out by the effects of the coronavirus,” they add.

“The pandemic has made persistent gender stereotypes and inequality more visible and in many cases reinforced them. The issue of gender equality in culture is too important to put off until after the pandemic is over,” they note.

“Fortunately, more and more people are realising that gender equality is not simply a favour to be granted to women, but that it is instead essential for enhancing the cultural diversity that unites us. So it is fitting that the EU’s motto is ‘United in diversity’. To be truly united in diversity, however, we must draw on the full potential available in our societies and not exclude half of our creative population from shaping our future,” the three ministers say.

“With this in mind, we, the culture and media ministers of Croatia, Germany and Portugal, want to work with our European colleagues – in the framework of our three countries’ presidencies of the Council of the European Union – to develop innovative ideas and measures for culture. We are using the chance offered by our successive Council presidencies to put the topic of gender equality on the agenda of European cultural policy for the first time.”

“Together with our counterparts in the ministries of culture and media of all the other EU member states and with the EU institutions, we will seek ways to make it possible for women artists to pursue their vocation without having to overcome discrimination,” the ministers note. 

“Part of this effort is ensuring the equal representation of women in management and leadership positions. Many of our committees already have equal representation, but that is not enough. We want to increase the visibility of women in the cultural and creative sector by promoting the equal representation of works by women in exhibitions, museums, galleries, theatres, festivals and concerts. This is the only way to break out of rigid and confining gender roles,” they add.

“Croatia has taken on board the importance of this issue and has been developing projects in the field of culture and media. Among its most recent and notable projects is the comprehensive media platform ‘Women and Media’, launched by the Agency for Electronic Media. This seeks to empower and inform women; to educate the public and raise awareness of the position of women in society; to increase the media visibility of women; and to erase the harmful stereotypes to which women are subjected.”

“If we do not want the current generation of women artists to have to wait for decades to receive the recognition they deserve, we must act together now. Countless outstanding, talented and innovative women artists, actors, directors, curators, musicians and women in other creative fields can make an enormous contribution to diversity in Europe,” the ministers say.

“Let us take advantage of the opportunities that result! Let us benefit from the additional potential and perspectives these women offer! Let us do our part to ensure that culture and the arts use their widespread appeal and exemplary role in the service of equal opportunity and gender equality!”

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