AGORÀ is a Strategic Partnership project in the field of innovation realized with the support of Erasmus+ Program, and aimed to develop tools and pedagogical approaches to fight young people social exclusion, and specifically gender-based discrimination, in public spaces settled in isolated areas.
The project aims to reach its objectives by implementing several interconnected actions between 2019 and 2022: two Transnational Project Meetings, one Field Research, two International Training Courses, one Tools Harmonization phase, one
Tools Testing phase, five different Meetings with Multipliers and one Follow Up phase. The results of these different phases will
lead to the creation of two Intellectual Outputs.
In this project, we consider public spaces as potentially opened areas and accessible to everybody where young people can encounter, gather and socialize. The associations part of the project included a big variety of settings inside this more general definition, both in the city centre or in more remote areas of the city, as schools, universities, parks, town halls, youth centres, civic centres, squats and social centres, big malls and shopping centres, open markets. They can be somehow considered areas of transit, where people are simply passing by and do not feel to belong to, but they can also be areas crossed by people who shows a strong affection and feeling of belonging to. Very interesting also is the idea of “re-appropriation” of public spaces, which somehow seems to be a paradox, since they are supposed to be opened and accessible to everyone. Public spaces can be both settings where democracy becomes possible, but also were discrimination takes place in different forms. In fact, often in the most isolated areas, these spaces are still the landmark of exclusion, ghettoisation and the stage for racism, sexism, bullying, with different discrimination displayed.
In this project, we consider the term isolated areas with a quite extensive meaning, that can be applied to a big variety of spaces, normally marked by a quite strong heterogeneity. They can be the suburbs of big cities, “left-out” neighbourhoods in small towns as long as more remote or rural areas. Still they have several elements in common as the potential tendency of being artificial “ghetto dimensions” for the young people settled there, from where it’s challenging to escape and/or to create interaction with the other realities. They might often become the stage for discriminatory events, hate speech, harmful rhetoric and populist approaches. They often are the setting where the extreme right parties and movements are setting their roots, permeating the mindset of the youth and leading to extremism and radicalization. Here the young people are the most exposed target group to segregation events, not being fully equipped to understand the reasons behind exclusion and to act against. The associations part of the project underlined as extra characteristics of these areas: the lack of human connections, the geographical isolation which can be increased by the scarcity of public transports, the multicultural aspect with no real interconnections among cultures. Therefore and as a direct consequence, people living here can face economic challenges, social stigma and societal labels, they can feel a lack of safety and security, deprivation and a more general lack of opportunities.
Public spaces and isolated areas can be often the setting of gender-based stereotypes, sexism, un-respectful behaviours toward the different gender identities and discrimination. Young people can be the main victims and the perpetrators (aware or not) of these behaviours. Families and youth workers, part of their closest relational circles are not always fully equipped to detect the gender-based discrimination symptoms within groups of young people and to take action to promote gender justice and equality in public spaces. In this perspective, the project aims to strengthen the supporting action to youth workers and activists involved in the grass-rooted work in these isolated public spaces, to equip them with tools and methods to raise youth awareness on gender-sensitive issues. The whole project will lead to the creation of a pedagogical package including different tools and methods within a newly designed pedagogical approach, to detect the display (behaviours, causes, reactions) of gender-based discrimination within groups of young people and to raise awareness on gender sensitive issues afterwards. We expect this package will contribute to reduce the gender based stereotypes, to promote fair gender role models and, at large, fight exclusion by enhancing gender equity.