SCI towards Gender Sensibility

During last year’s Exchange Platform Meeting in Sweden, the SCI movement evaluated the abolishment of the gender balance. Why? Because individuals are much more than their gender and not to have gender balance does not hinder the multiplicity of points of view and cultures that we aim for in our projects and workcamps. Rather than just looking at gender balance, SCI wants to give an alternative to the status quo, since this status quo is not suitable for our movement.

The SCI proposal are:

-       to remove Gender Balance from Placement Procedure starting with the 2017 placement season;

-       to keep asking volunteers about their gender, but in a more sensitive way – see separate   proposal “Third Gender in OPS“ ;

-       Individual organisations and camps can keep a gender balance, if they see the need;

-       to have a discussion at EPM 2017 on evaluating the abolishment of the gender balance.

In the past years, the gender balance became more and more challenging to achieve. In 2016 60% of SCI volunteers were female, suggesting that many of the workcamps failed to have a gender balance. This doesn't mean that SCI will not ask volunteers anymore for their gender and it also doesn't mean that SCI will ignore gender as a relevant aspect of workcamps. This only means that gender will not be one of the obligatory criteria for selecting participants anymore.

At the same time, in our web system it will soon allow people who do not identify with a gender or who identify with genders other than simply "man" and "woman" (e.g. inter or trans people) to choose an "Open" option. In this field, volunteers can state their gender freely. We took this step, because there are more and more projects concerning feminism, gender and sexuality in our movement. There have already been cases where volunteers felt reluctant to apply for projects, because they were not represented in the application form, even if the project itself was about gender diversity.

Of course there will be both positive and negative side about abolishing gender balance. Negative side could concern the respect to culture and religion’s attitude towards gender, the fact that an equal number of men and woman creates a better atmosphere and - not last -  the society makes women want to participate more in workcamps then men. But there are also some positive side: gender balance gives a strange impression to volunteers and is not intuitive; and there is a strong focus on gender selection on SCI workcamp rather than other selection criteria.

SCI is sure that these steps will be unusual now in the first year that they are implemented, but we hope to make our movement more open-minded and sensitive by taking these steps. We will discuss how the first year went at EPM 2017 in France. Our vision is to create a culture of peace with our workcamps. This culture means to be sensitive towards gender as well as the stereotypes and power structures related to it. Let's create that culture, no matter what gender people identify with. 


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