Interview with Eider Goiburu, social psychologist, sex educator and equality specialist

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Eider Goiburu, social psychologist, sex educator and equality specialist

How can we address co-education in today's context?

  • We have been working for years on co-education in formal and non-formal education, and some teachers and educators feel that we are not making progress. At the same time, reactionary attitudes that were previously unseen are now evident among some young people. What is happening?

First of all, I think it is important to clarify that the ultimate goal of co-education is to build a just society in which everyone has a place. Social transformation is a far-reaching process, and all processes have ups and downs.

On the other hand, I think it is important to recognise the work done so far by the feminist movement, by institutions, and especially by the education sector. As you pointed out in the question, we have been working towards equality for decades, and I believe that important steps have been taken. Co-education sessions are held with young people, training and discussion sessions are organised with teachers and families, and many centres are redesigning their spaces to ensure they are used inclusively. In other words, we are on the right track, but we must acknowledge that it is not easy.

At the same time, the educational community in general and some young people are complaining that reactionary attitudes towards co-education have become stronger in recent years. We are finding it increasingly difficult to work on such important days as 8 March, 25 November, or 17 May. It is usually young boys who boycott these events by refuting and belittling violence and gender-based imbalances.

Given this social context, it is essential to review the path and identify the opportunities and challenges we face today. In other words, we must think, analyse and experiment with new strategies when working on co-education.

  • What would you say are the opportunities we have today?

On the one hand, as already mentioned, we have been working on co-education for decades. We already have a track record, and we have gained some knowledge.

On the other hand, in the field of formal education, the new education law establishes co-education as a cross-cutting issue. In other words, it incorporates co-education into the curriculum and says we must apply a co-educational approach to all educational activities.

Gender equality is also a key criterion for working with young people in non-formal education. It is therefore acknowledged as a priority for education and youth policies.

Finally, many teachers and educators are keenly aware of and concerned about equality. The motivation is, therefore, strong.

  • And the challenges?

As I said before, we are faced with the reactionary attitudes of some young people. The various professionals who deal with the issue of co-education are reflecting on this in order to understand what is happening and to develop new strategies.

Resources are always another challenge. Indeed, the time and conditions dedicated to co-education are insufficient for any in-depth work to be carried out. We work on ideas, beliefs or thoughts, but the real changes come from emotions. What we have to work on is the emotional aspect. This requires more time and resources. Let's see if the new educational framework comes with more resources!

People who suffer from oppression other than gender have made us realise that male violence intersects with other forms of oppression. Namely racism, ableism, fatphobia, and so on. Working on gender-based oppression must necessarily involve the mapping of other forms of oppression and violence. This requires everyone to reflect on and become aware of their privileges and oppressions.

  • Will you work on all this during the course?

We will try!

The first goal of this year's course is to explore the context. In other words, how far have we progressed? What is the current situation?

The second goal is to develop the conditions and strategies for co-education: the acknowledgement of sex-gender identities, the analysis of how the different forms of oppression intersect: male violence, racist violence, empowerment, etc. (intersectionality), and the integration of the ethics of care.

The final goal is to work on prevention: identifying violence, empowering different social groups, and sex education.

  • Why would you encourage people to take this course?

Members of the educational community report they don't have time to discuss and share. There are few forums where people from the same field can share their concerns, queries and realities. This course offers such a forum. At the same time, we want to share other insights into the issue of male violence.

How can we address co-education in todays context?