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8 March, Day of the Woman

Diadeladona2014 web

Over time the month of March has come to be recognised by the women of Formentera as a month of celebration, bringing with it as it does International Working Women's Day, 8 March. The women of Formentera come out strong in their yearly recognition of this important date, a moment dedicated to mass mobilisation and the struggle to end the discrimination that translates into an unequal access to resources still today.

Once again, the Espai Dones Association, with the collaboration of Formentera's offices of Equality and Culture, has prepared activities for the entire month of March. Starting on the 3rd and extending all the way through the 23rd, this year's activities are reflective in nature. The month-long activities programme runs the gamut; from a photo exhibition by Isa Sanz and storytelling by Encarna de las Heras, to a reading of the manifesto representing the day's founding ideals and – an extremely important event for the aged community of Formentera – the sixth annual homage to elderly women, a celebration of the history of women in Formentera.

Opening the programme schedule, on 8 March, a reading of the day's manifesto is organised for the Plaça de la Constitució. Also on this date: Un hilito, a theatrical presentation by Inés Sarmiento that combines theatre, dance and audiovisual productions.

The remaining cultural acts, all of which place the woman at the forefront, vary from a projection of the film Cider House Rules; a conference on 11 March entitled “Eva al desnudo: parlem sobre l'autoestima” (All about Eve: Talking about self-esteem) and “En busca de la felicitat: per on començam?” (In pursuit of happiness: where do we start?), the latter scheduled to close out the programme of activities on 24 March. Both conferences will be led by the psychologist Anna Costa and will be held at the Plenary Hall of the Formentera Island Council. The list of events would of course not be complete without storytelling by Encarna de las Heras (15 March) or, that same evening, the traditional sisterhood supper for all those women – Espai Dones members or otherwise – who wish to participate.

The events programme was made possible by the Espai Dones Association, which devotes efforts year after year to the celebration of the International Working Women's Day and the International Day against Domestic Violence. These dates mark relevant moments in women's fight for effective equality and empowerment. Mainly, the celebrations organised around 8 March represent an important push for the defence and awareness of women's rights.

Formentera's Espai Dones Association
Espai Dones Formentera is a not-for-profit women's association. It was founded 5 March 2007 by a group of women who had for many years organised events for 8 March, International Working Women's Day.

The association's purpose is to promote gender equality and provide women with counsel, as well as organise workshops and events that are both educational and fun. It is a space to meet, dialogue, foster an environment of social well-being and collaborate with other local associations on the official commemoration of important moments in the struggle for equality.

Given the high-quality and nobility of the association's work, since last year an accord has officially linked Espai Dones with the Formentera Council, facilitating and formalising a relationship that had steadily evolved since the inception of the Council. Both entities are extremely active on issues of awareness and reflection, but also, from a legal standpoint, both recognise the important role of pressing charges in cases of abuse and discrimination, continuously moving forward in actively involving our society on this issue.

The Office of Equality believes support of gender-based initiatives to be vitally important, especially considering the oppressive atmosphere of cutbacks that has taken its toll on equality policies and, as an extension, increased risks for women and their children.

Any and all women in Formentera who wish to take part in Espai Dones can send an email to espaidonesformentera@hotmail.com.

Working year-round for the empowerment of women
The Office of Social Welfare oversees the management of two fundamental services for the women of Formentera, the first being immediate support for victims of domestic violence and the second – complementary and of unqualified importance – equal-rights training and domestic violence prevention. The support service for domestic abuse victims comprises immediate attention, mentoring and on-going support for the victims during periods of vulnerability. This service uses tools like the emergency telephone line (24 hours/day) and relies on a close coordination with the Guardia Civil. The service also includes home-visits when an immediate separation of the victim and aggressor is necessary. This is overseen in collaboration with the Eivissa Women's Office. Additionally, a therapeutic psychologist service is provided in cases of necessity, as is a service offering legal counsel.

We believe that equal-rights training is a very important factor in domestic violence prevention. For this reason the Office of Equality works closely with the Office of Culture in the realisation of communicative actions to generate social change and promote advancements in gender equality. We believe that every woman must attain a certain level of empowerment in order to defend herself and prevent domestic violence from taking place, especially on an island as pluralistic and diverse as ours.

Formentera youth join call to reject petroleum explorations

jovesdiuen NO webLast Friday, a small group of pupils from IES Marc Ferrer (secondary school), joined by the school's director, Raquel Guasch, met with Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer and councillor of Education and Culture Sònia Cardona to deliver more than 200 signatures from residents of the island who oppose plans to explore for petrol on the Gulf of Valencia and west coast of the Pitiüsa Islands. The act, mostly symbolic, was part of an effort by Formentera students to give the youth of the island a voice in the issues that affect them.

The idea came from the students themselves. After witnessing outreach work done by the school's environmental commission – la Comissió de Medi Ambient –, a group of students at the high school, acutely aware of their right to take part in the discussions that affect the future of their island, decided to take action. Although not yet old enough to vote, the students wished to manifest their rejection of the seismic drilling plans and join the growing collective of more than 2,500 Formentera residents who have already voiced their opposition.

For its part, the Council committed to delivering the signed petitions to the Ministry of the Environment and Industry, thus making the opinions of Formentera youth known to those with decision-making power.

In addition to the Council's absolute support of the youth initiative, in the final trimester of 2013 the administration also ratified the constitution of the recently-formed local youth council, El Consell de Participació Infantil i Juvenil. The youth council was envisioned as an advisory body whose role it would be to provide a voice to Formentera youth as well as promote their active participation in local politics. Giving youth a voice, it was reasoned, would be the first step to considering that voice in the decision-making process.

This month's plenary session of the Formentera Island Council will raise that very issue and introduce a proposal to declare Formentera a UNICEF Child-friendly City. If approved, such a declaration would stand to certify that the municipality of Formentera upholds the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In-school police officer to lead student talks on web-based crime

oci3From 29 to 31 January, Formentera's in-school police liaison will lead a series of talks at the island's secondary school, IES Marc Ferrer, and at two local primary schools, CPs Sant Ferran and Mestre Lluís Andreu. The talks, directed at years five and six of primary school and at the entirety of the secondary school student body, will focus on social media websites.

At the talks, students will also benefit from the special participation of a visiting police liaison from Ciutadella (Menorca), himself a specialist in computer-based crime. The officer will visit Formentera with the express purpose of participating in the specialised talks, which aim to inform island youth of the dangers of computer-based crime, recently on the rise.

In-school police liaisons are members of the local police force who collaborate specifically with educational centres. They assure a level of security on the school grounds, oversee prevention work vis-à-vis underage segments of the student body and work in concert with in-school social workers. On a day-to-day basis the liaison officer also intervenes on cases of truancy, student conflicts and criminal acts, tobacco and drug consumption and a host of other issues. The incidents logged most often in the 2012/2013 annual report by the Formentera police liaison were student conflicts (commonly fights and threats), reports to the local office of social services, serving summons for appearances in juvenile court and interventions in family conflicts.

Thanks to the programme an extra level of protection is afforded the island's early-childhood, primary and secondary school centres, which are assured a certain level of permanent contact with the local police officer.

Formentera's councillor of Education, Sònia Cardona, spoke effusively of the programme's benefits and the high level of satisfaction it is receiving. She underscored the preventative work being done and spoke of the importance, for students, of having such a figure on campus, whether it be in his role leading talks and conferences, supervising entry to and exit from schools, or any of his other functions.

Formentera's in-school liaison, Officer Carlos Malberti, has held his charge since September 2009. The post of liaison officer has been promoted by Formentera Council offices of Public Safety, Education and Social Welfare, and benefitted from the collaboration of the Balearic Islands Institute of Public Safety (ISPIB), a programme of the Govern Balear and the Department of Public Administrations.

Formentera Summer School creates solution for working families

escolaestiu2013 web2For yet another year, the months of July and August ushered in the Formentera Summer School, a programme of recreational activities for boys and girls from ages 3 to 12 years old. Proof of the initiative's success – the summer school programme permits parents to negotiate professional obligations with family life during the two central summer months – this year's summer school counted a total of 182 participants.

The goal of the Formentera Summer School is serve as a socio-educational resource during the summer months, and one that promotes viable, productive alternatives for leisure activities. One of the programme's many smaller scale objectives is to foster the creative development of its participants, in this way giving children the possibility to acquire an important knowledge base through play. In this same way participating children also learn values like solidarity, friendship, responsibility, trust and respect.

Summer school activities were held at Col·legi Públic Mestre Lluís Andreu, Col·legi de Sant Ferran and also Col·legi Públic del Pilar de la Mola, serving all three of the island's public primary schools.

Programming was held Monday through Friday from 9 am to 2 pm, starting 1 July and extending through 30 August, and including the option of early morning start (8 am) at all three centres.

This year's programming carried the title, “SOM ARTISTES!!” (We're artists!!), and built a knowledge base around imagination and creativity, a starting-off point for various themes, which later included games, songs, arts and crafts activities, dance, gymkhanas and theatre.

Children had the opportunity to take part in outings to the municipal swimming pool, trips to different beaches, visits to different exhibitions, bike trips, a visit by island firefighters, and a get-together organised between all three centres and held at the Col·legi del Pilar de la Mola, where students took part in games, sports and other organised activities.

On 30 August the 2013 Formentera Summer School programme came to an official close with a gala held at the Cultural Hall (cinema), each group presenting a performance in which the dances, songs and other summertime activities could be put on display.

The summer school's directive team was made up of one recreational activity director, twenty counsellors, two counsellor assistants and one counsellor certified in special education.

Thanks to the day counsellor training courses offered over the course of the last several winters, the majority of counsellors this summer were also residents of Formentera. These training courses have been an important factor in maintaining high numbers of resident counsellors in past editions of the summer school. This is especially positive considering both stability it gives the project and the professional development opportunities it provides for Formentera youth in summer, affording an alternative to tourism sector-based employment.

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