In October 2020, against all odds we managed to organise the Study Tour we had been planning since December 2019. The idea to gather the working group on Gender Equality and study together the subject of creative arts as a tool of civic education was born out of the first group meeting in Bulgaria.

Yes, it didn’t really go the way we had imagined it: we had to innovate which was, at the end of the day, the goal of our Study Tour – innovative ideas.

Part of the group met in Germany, in the Akademie Waldschlösschen. However, even here we lost one participant on the way who got stuck in the pre-lockdown Ireland. We called ourselves “The EU team”, and the second half of the group gathered in Moscow was proclaimed the “Moscow team”.

Nothing went smoothly in this video-conference meeting: the internet went down once on our side, once on theirs, once their laptop broke but eventually we managed to get it done and never have we regretted we made this effort.

Apart from the seminar part where we taught each other creative tools of civic education for gender equality, both of the groups had their network programmes in Berlin and in Moscow respectively, which allowed us to meet in person with other Forum’s members and other NGO’s working on the topics of human rights and gender equality.

Here are some insights from participants from the EU and Moscow.

Andreia Bassa from CAAT, the Netherlands:

“Everyone should have access to art, creativity and playfulness in their lives. It gives us space for imagination, new energy to recharge and some level of happiness. Now, imagining having those in our work, especially when we have a demanding professional challenge as it is to be agents of change! It is possible and that was what we exchanged and got inspired with.

Some of the things that were remarkable were all the amazing workshops we had, great events, to stay in nature, in Waldschösschen, to experience the vibrant city of Berlin and the opportunity to even meet the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum office.

From a lot of positive experiences, I would like to highlight our Feminist tour in Berlin, it was a very good reminder of how women are not part of history and how unstable our rights are. Thus, a good motivation to keep on securing those.

From the least positive side, it was a pity to have our group divided due to the current pandemic. Nevertheless, we had the capacity to adapt and make it happen despite all challenges. Finally, a very special thanks go to Quarteera for the amasing work in organising all this!”.

Olga Shnyrova from the Ivanovo Gender Studies Center (Russia):

“For me, the most interesting and inspiring was Ksenia Khrabrykh‘s presentation on how to use interactive art methods in civic activities. At the beginning of November, we’ll organise our own seminar for NGOs and trade unions and I invited Ksenia to tell them about this topic as I believe it will help them to develop new ways of promoting their ideas. Besides for me were important meetings with Moscow organisations (visit to Sakharov centre was terrific) and to Naumann Foundation. I hope it gives us an opportunity to develop new partnerships”.