Mirela Greti-Puiu, Lisa Besnard, Corina Marcela Weiss, Audrey Demore, Claire Morandeau, Raquel Ortega Martínez, Alexandre Iacconi, Lucia Seel, Christine André, Francisco Melero Munez (from left to right)


Between 21-22 September 2023 the PENELOPE Project consortium met for the second project meeting in Yecla (Spain), hosted by the AMUEBLA Cluster of Innovation for Furniture Manufacturers in the Region of Murcia.

The agenda included a review of the activities carried out since the last meeting in November 2022, taking stock of the results achieved and planning for the next period.

The last nine months were dedicated to putting all the structures in place, including the management and the communication processes. Our work is now visible on our website, through the regular information provided to the interested audience via our LinkedIn channel, as well as through the newsletter distributed to the clusters and cluster policy makers, in order to reach out to the SMEs and other potential beneficiaries.

We were aware of the need expressed by clusters to see more and more practical impact of policies and initiatives that highlight and value the role of women within European clusters and their businesses, and for tools that allow them to help and accompany their associated companies in the development of gender mainstreaming strategies.

We set our goal for the first part of the project to work on the design of clear guidelines for clusters’ staff towards gender mainstreaming, addressing topics such as gender equality and inclusion, gender impact assessment, gender communication or gender monitoring, thus promoting equality between women and men across the EU.

The starting activities were focused on:

  1. Identifying good practices among EU clusters and policy makers at regional, national and EU level related to gender equality and gender mainstreaming.
  2. Defining a pan-European Gender Mainstreaming Approach through specific tools for gender impact assessment, gender communication and gender monitoring.

We were positively surprised to see the echo in the cluster community when asked to contribute with their experience and knowledge to our collection of good practice. We succeeded to double the number of good practices identified (from 15 to 30) and the number of interviews (from 10 to 20) carried out with representatives of companies, clusters and cluster policy makers, with women networks. All these contributions come from Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, as well as from European networks and associations and global institutions, making our upcoming handbook a first truly pan-European effort of its kind.

This input was analysed and combined with intensive research led to the design of 18 tools for a gender mainstreaming approach that were structured in eight areas of possible intervention:

  1. Workplace culture and institutional transformation
  2. Talent recruitment
  3. Career progression and access to training
  4. Equal pay
  5. Working conditions, health and occupational safety
  6. Maternity, work-life balance and flexible working arrangements
  7. Sexism and harassment in the workplace
  8. Gender monitoring, performance and reporting

All this rich knowledge is currently structured and will be published before the end of the year on our website, social media and shared with the broad European cluster community through a dedicated promotional campaign.

In Yecla we also took the time to reflect upon and plan the next steps that include the creation of training videos helping to prepare further training content to be used via a Virtual Learning Environment, which will be another milestone of the PENELOPE-Project.

Contact: penelope@oxalis-scop.org