The project started in December 1993, at the A SEED General Meeting in Vilvoorde, Belgium. It started under the name of the Women's Project with the aim of encourage more women's participation in A SEED activities and decision making process. We were wondering why so few women came to Vilvoorde, why they were often very quiet during discussions, whether it looks different in our organizations/countries, whether it matters at all (it does!) and what we can do to improve the situation. We investigated some ways to deal with the problem. We started monitoring discussions to see how long each person spoke, how often women speak and how often men, and at the same time, how often and how long for Eastern and Western Europeans.
The results were pretty interesting - try it too if you want. We wanted also to do more things in smaller groups rather than in plenary, as it is easier for people who normally are rather quiet to speak up. Another idea we had was organizing separate men and women caucuses on the next General Meeting of A SEED.
And that did happen on the next A SEED General Meeting, in Ivancice, Czech Republic, May 1994. It was very interesting! The women didn't manage to finish the first point from the list of things we wanted to talk about, the men discussed everything very quickly and didn't know what to talk about any more. Afterwards we discussed the results in small mixed groups. Also in Ivancice, the Women's Project became the Gender Campaign. We felt that the gender issues are important to campaign on and it is not enough to change ourselves and the network, we want to change the world! People, mostly women, shared their plans of what they wanted to focus on at first (for example, health issues, trafficking in women, gender stereotypes in societies).
Chronologically, afterwards there was a media seminar, June 1995, Freiburg, Germany. A Men's caucus was organized, which was very successful and inspiring according to participants. Then in Romania in August 1994, a women's retreat from European Youth Forest Action's Ecotopia took place (a joint EYFA/A SEED event). The topics were both people and campaign oriented.
Duisburg, Germany, December 1994, A SEED General Meeting, more discussions, more planning.
So that's the history, here's what's happening now!