Building a future without gender-based violence: reflections from the REBOOT NOW conference

Friday 9 February 2024

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How to support the psychological well-being of young people in the post-pandemic period, combating gender-based violence with an integrated approach?

The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled young people worldwide to grapple with restrictive measures that have profoundly impacted their daily lives. From social isolation to increased pressure to adapt to online learning, many young individuals have faced difficulties that have significantly affected their mental health and social relationships. At the same time, the pandemic has underscored and exacerbated pre-existing issues, such as gender-based violence among youth. In this context, REBOOT NOW steps in, promoting the adoption of best practices to support the psychological well-being of young individuals and prevent gender-based violence, fostering the development of healthy relationships and a safe environment.

To bring attention to the positive actions of the project and the phenomenon related to youth psychological well-being, the conference Preventing Gender-Based Violence Among Youth in the Post-COVID Era: Let’s REBOOT! was held in Brussels. The event, organized on January 25, 2024, at the European Parliament under the guidance of MEP Alessandra Moretti of the S&D Group, served as a platform to present the results of the REBOOT NOW project, particularly addressing the critical issue of gender-based violence (GBV) among young people in the post-COVID era. The conference had the merit of bringing together numerous experts, representatives from European institutions, non-governmental organizations, and young people themselves.

In her opening speech, Maria Elli Doufexi Kaplani, KMOP project manager, emphasised the essential role of mental health in the prevention of gender-based violence among young people. Afterwards, MEP Sergei Stanishev highlighted the vital contribution of NGOs, citing the ANIMUS Association Foundation in Bulgaria as an exemplary model. Cloé Saint-Nom, coordinator of CESIE’s Rights and Justice Unit, then gave an overview of the key aspects of the REBOOT NOW project.

The first panel, on gender-based violence among young people, was initiated by Dr. Emma Mesikämmen, Director of Research and Development at Hope for Children. In connection with this, Dr. Marija Babovic, social researcher at UN Women, presented groundbreaking research on violence against women facilitated by technology in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, proposing recommendations for legal and policy improvements together with a comprehensive prevention strategy.

The second panel, dedicated to the mental health of young people, featured Elizabeth Gosme, Director of COFACE Families Europe, who emphasised the fundamental role of the family and introduced the Link Education programme for educators. Next, Nadia Kozhouharova from ANIMUS emphasised the importance of training educators on students’ mental health, while Valeria Puletti presented Wellness Festivals as a school practice.

The third panel, chaired by Andrea-Fotini Hadjiconstantinou from Hope for Children, shared the experiences of the project’s youth advisory committees. The young participants reiterated the need to involve young people directly for effective initiatives.

The concluding panel explored the footprint of REBOOT NOW, with Marina Natsia from KMOP explaining the functioning of the platform and the online booking system for psychological counters. Nadia Kozhouharova detailed the counselling service, while Valeria Puletti highlighted the awareness-raising campaign developed by the project.

Concluding the conference, MEP Alessandra Moretti emphasised the continued need for support and action towards combating gender-based violence, adding that it is crucial to establish sexuality and affectivity education programmes in school curricula for this purpose. Acknowledging the contributions of NGOs, he emphasised the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders, concluding that initiatives should proceed from the top down.

The conference, as well as the entire REBOOT NOW project, served as a landmark, illuminating joint efforts to combat gender-based violence among young people in the post-COVID era.

Together, we can make a difference and create a future where gender-based violence has no place. It is time to act with determination and solidarity to build a more just and inclusive world for all.

To learn more about REBOOT NOW initiatives visit www.thegendertalk.eu or contact Francesca Barbino: francesca.barbino@cesie.org.

About the project

REBOOT NOW – Prevention of Gender-Based Violence in Schools after Lockdown is funded by DG: DG Justice – CERV Programme (2021-2027).

Partners

For further information

Read more about the project and visit www.thegendertalk.eu;

Contact Francesca Barbino francesca.barbino@cesie.org.

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