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Opciónate has been commissioned to act as an advisory body on gender equality within the framework of this European project

The Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation, and Information Society (ACIISI) joins in as partner in the Athena project, coordinated by Europa Projects and Innovation SL and funded by the Horizon 2020 program. Athena seeks to empower female research through a gender equality infrastructure in institutions, thus complying with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. This European program will last for 48 months.

The new Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Framework Program (2021-2027) sets gender equality as a cross-cutting issue. Facing the challenges still standing in the way of real equality in research and innovation is its main objective. Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, declared her determination and commitment to ensure the gender dimension is once and for all integrated into research and innovation.

The main novelties Horizon Europe brings with regard to gender equality are:

  • The existence of a gender equality plan will be established as an eligibility requirement for public entities, research and higher education entities to receive funding from Horizon Europe.
  • The integration of the gender dimension in the content of research and innovation will be a default requirement throughout the program.
  • Special attention will be paid to gender balance in the Commission’s evaluation panels and boards and expert groups, as well as in the research teams in EU-funded projects. In fact, gender balance may be considered as a tiebreaker in the evaluation of eligibility criteria.
  • Regarding financing, the measures by the European Innovation Council stand out particularly, the funds for gender studies under Cluster 2 – Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Societies, as well as support for the development of inclusive equality plans under the “Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area” component of Horizon Europe.

In this context, the Athena project will support 9 European research organizations—including 2 from the Canary Islands—in developing and implementing Gender Equality Plans to enable a cultural and institutional change and help remove barriers to the recruitment, retention and progression of female researchers. Further, it aims at addressing gender imbalances in decision-making processes and avoiding gender bias and discriminatory practices towards women.

Starting September 2021, Opciónate will participate as an advisory body in the development and implementation of a gender-equality training program with the active engagement of ACIISI, and the preparation of a diagnosis with a gender perspective with the collaboration of the Athena working group and ACIISI experts.