Providing women with the skills to succeed in the labour market
A two-year project has been helping women gain the skills and know-how they need to find jobs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated areas such as ICT/technology and entrepreneurship.
Began in 2010, the Winnet 8 project aimed to get more women into work and creating new businesses as a means of boosting growth across Europe’s regions. As well as this personalised approach, it also set out to shape regional, national and EU-level policies that relate to women’s status in the labour market and ensure these approaches are integrated into mainstream policies. In this way, addressing, at the level of policy development, the challenges that exist and that can make it difficult for women to secure jobs or further their careers in certain sectors and roles.
Building on expertise
Bringing together nine regions in eight member states (Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom) the project drew on the best practice that exists across Europe to develop ways to support women. It especially aimed to spread the model of the Woman Resources Centres developed in Sweden - a network of grassroot-run centres that offer support to women with the overall aim of serving as a tool for promoting gender equality - throughout Europe.
The main target group of the WRCs is women who want to realise their ideas for new businesses, innovation, employment, projects etc. The WRCs provide these women with business counselling, education, training, project development and finance, enterprise support, mentoring and joint action networks at different levels (local, regional, national and international).
Promoting excellence in policymaking
Policymakers and civil servants also constitute an important target group for WRC activities and to address this target group, regional Multi Actor Groups (MAGs) were created to be a forum for co-operation between Managing Authorities, local and regional authorities, businesses, research institutions, Women Resource Centres, WRCs and other voluntary Sector and NGO organisations.
Through the experience and knowledge collected via the interregional training sessions, study visits and workshops, nine regional Actions Plans were developed by the Member States involved. The results of these Regional Action Plans should serve as an input for Europe 2020 and the Cohesion policy 2014-2020 both in the regions concerned and across the EU as a whole. A Policy recommendation book “Innovation & Policies, for Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” has been produced and disseminated at regional, national and European levels.
A Winnet Centre of Excellence was established in Sweden in 2011 and will be further developed as a test bed within the framework of the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy. The Centre will analyse, disseminate and mainstream the experiences from Women’s Resource Centres (WRCs) in Europe since the mid-90s and help elaborate strategies to influence policy and implementation of good practices.
Finally, thanks to the interregional exchange of best practice, study visits and research, the project has developed a guide book “Women Resource Centres, Innovation & Practices for Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” featuring a series of selected good practice examples from Member States. A range of other best practice publications have also been produced.
“The experience gained in Sweden in improving the employability of women is proving very valuable for other countries across Europe… [It’s clear that] the WINNET 8 project is making a positive contribution to the Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 priorities of improving gender equality in the labour market.”
- Carin Nises, Municipality of Älvdalen (Lead Partner)
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project "Winnet 8 - an Interreg IVC capitalisation project, Improving gender equality in employment, human capital and education" was EUR 2 356 778, with the EU's European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 835 850. The project is funded through the priority “Innovation and the knowledge economy” of the “Interregional co-operation programme INTERREG IVC" for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.