Equality, diversity and inclusion expert launches global ‘‘Time for Equality’’ initiative

Rosa  Brignone on the International Women's Day in the European Parliament, during the Equality and Diversity Awards, in Strasbourg.

Rosa Brignone on the International Women’s Day in the European Parliament, during the Equality and Diversity Awards, in Strasbourg. Photo: Courtesy of Rosa Brignone

Having dedicated her time and energy to the progress of gender equality, diversity and inclusion within the EU institutions for nearly two decades, it was in April 2013 that Rosa Brignone decided to launch ‘‘Time for Equality’’.

When asked to define ‘‘Time for Equality’’, Ms Brignone described it as a gradual discovery of her true passion, an initiative born out of a strong need to become independent and have a free voice.

‘‘I wanted to be free to talk about things that matter, women are not listened to, so I envisioned an open platform where everyone can have a voice.’’

Based in Luxembourg since 1984 when she left Rome to work as a translator for the European Parliament, Rosa Brignone has always been passionate about equality matters.

‘‘Fighting social expectations has always been part of my life; it is the story of my family, since my mother and grandmother were not able to do what they wanted in life.’’

Although family and parents were very supportive and encouraged her to continue her studies and make a career, the existent gender-based social expectations imposed that she choose literary studies to become a teacher.

‘‘My life was greatly influenced by gender.’’

Photo: courtesy of Rosa Brignone

Photo: courtesy of Rosa Brignone

‘‘There were many subtle gender restrictions, rather than skill-based restrictions. That’s why I decided to study languages, which I perceived as a door to the world, ’’ she recalls.

Back in 1990, Rosa Brignone made a career change and moved from the translation department to the plenary services where she dealt with the overall function for the plenary.

Based on this professional experience, Ms Brignone volunteered to switch career paths again and work for the women’s rights and gender equality committee as part of the administrative team.

‘‘Every single time, I started from scratch and in areas that were not so interesting for others, but in which I really saw the potential.’’

Reflecting on those times, Ms Brignone went on to say that ‘‘it was a school of life; I was very ambitious and always believed in principles. This was very important to my family and implicitly to me. Once you say something, you keep your promise.’’

As Head of Equality and Diversity Unit for the European Parliament in 2003, Rosa Brignone was at the helm of a unit which desperately needed a more efficient structure and vision.

‘‘There was nothing in diversity in 2003-2004. From then on, the unit gradually enforced its activity with initiatives and projects, proposing political documents and raising awareness on diversity.

“During my time there, the European Parliament became the first institution to have a pilot project for trainees with disabilities, a project which I am very proud of.

“In 2009 the first-ever Gender Equality and Diversity Action Plan (2009-2013) in a European institution was also adopted. When I look back, I realise that I put in a lot of effort, but I also experienced big satisfactions.’’

Time for Equality aims to contribute to a better and fairer society

Facing internal constraints and cuts in the number of staff and resources for equality policies, which were undermining the progress already made, Rosa Brignone decided to conclude her career at the European Parliament.

‘‘Institutions should be role models. The working environment was no longer in line with my values, which are not negotiable. Following my long-term lobbying and advocacy experience and passion, I came to realise that it was time for a change, and I founded Time for Equality as a civil society initiative,’’ concluded Ms Brignone.

tfe-logo‘‘Time for Equality’’ is aimed at contributing to a better and fairer society built on a culture of respect for human rights, equality and justice. It focuses on gender and disability equality, inclusion, diversity and leadership and also proposes inclusive workshops which are addressed both at individuals and groups concerned with these topics.

‘‘Time for Equality’’ also supports two projects for education for girls in Bangladesh and Afghanistan through local NGOs.

For more information on the not-for-profit initiative, please visit the Time for Equality website.

This article was published under my name on Wort English on March 6, 2014.

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