On the 1st of May, the WINBLUE project, funded under the EMFAF call for proposals on Women in the Blue Economy, kicked off.
Within the blue economy, the contribution and potential of women remains overlooked and undervalued, especially within roles related to STEM. They face barriers for employment and advancement in many of the blue economy’s male-dominanted sectors. This is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed, not least of which because gender equality is a core EU value and fundamental right, but also because studies conclusively prove that empowering women is an essential condition for an innovative, competitive and thriving European economy.
To address this issue, the WINBLUE project aims to take a multifaceted and multi-actor approach towards empowering women and reducing gender inequalities in the blue economy. AcrossLimits is a proud partner in this ambitious initiative coordinated by Italy’s largest public research institution, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, alongside 12 other partner organisations from 7 countries.
WINBLUE approaches the issue at hand by looking at promoting gender mainstreaming in five different blue economy sectors:
- Blue circular bioeconomy and biotechnology;
- Fisheries and aquaculture;
- Sustainable coastal and maritime tourism;
- Offshore renewable energy;
- Cutting-edge enabling technology (ICT, AI, Robotics) for protecting and restoring marine ecosystems.
For each one of the above blue economy subsectors, WINBLUE will launch sectoral stakeholder hubs, the ‘WINBLUE labs’. Each WINBLUE lab will engage a group of representative stakeholders per sector, among public authorities, development agencies, companies, trade organisations, VET institutes, researchers and civil society organisations. These labs and their members will be engaged throughout the project and its activities to provide input, feedback, information and data. They will be also invited to take part in the project activities that will take place at local level, such as training.
The first problem that WINBLUE addresses is that of lack of systemic and precise sector-specific gendered information, without which it is impossible to establish a benchmark. The project will achieve a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data collection exercise, as well as gathering a repository of good practice recommendations and a stakeholder mapping exercise.
Secondly, WINBLUE seeks to optimise resources already available by identifying, collecting, assessing, and then disseminating a selection of good practices that have a high potential for replicability. Therefore, WINBLUE will collate a set of practices (i.e. actions, methodologies, methods, projects, processes, techniques, strategies, development plans) that proven successful in eliminating inequalities and have the potential to be transferred from one geographic area or region to another, as well as from one sector to another.
Lastly, WINBLUE brings together a number of bottom-up and top-down approaches that will strengthen and consolidate the capacity of stakeholders within the blue economy sector to mainstream gender equality in organisational policies, measures, practices, cultures, and individual attitudes. This approach includes the co-creation and implementation of highly replicable Gender Equality Plan models for each WINBLUE economy sector, creating and piloting training via short intensive courses, and establishing a coaching programme for female entrepreneurs.
This last pillar of work is indeed the part of the work programme that AcrossLimits has been tasked with the responsibility of leading. Over the coming two years, we will be working hand in hand with our partners and our collective wider networks, and deploying our many years of experience in deploying gender mainstreaming and gender equality training to the benefit of the wider blue economy.
If you wish to learn more about WINBLUE and how you can be involved, please contact [email protected].