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Month: February 2019

Consulting Civil Society on Gender Issues

Building on our success over the last few years, the annual EuroGender (EIGE) – Civil Society consultation meeting took place in Vilnius on 31 January and 1 February. Parents International was represented by the Chair of the Supervisory Board The event brought together representatives of different civil society organisations in the EU, and we were invited to bring the parents’ voice to the discussion. 

The event was by inviation only and representatives of the European Women’s Lobby, Social Platform, Men Engage Europe Network and European Economic and Social Committee also joined the event.

On the first day plenary session discussion were followed by separate project laboratories focusing on a wide range of topics of joint interest. The second day of the meeting was mostly dedicated to bilateral discussionsin order to design annual cooperation plans for 2019 between participants and EIGE.

In 2019, EIGE will conduct a study to review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) – Beijing +25. EIGE will assess the implementation of the 12 critical areas of the BPfA in the context of EU policy priorities and targets since Beijing +20 took place, and provide recommendations for further action to promote gender equality in the EU. The first insights of the findings of the study were shared with participants and discussed with possible ways forward, including ways of communicating the results once they are officially launched during Finnish Presidency of the EU.

The discussions covered the following topics: the gender pay gap, gender budgeting, gender stakeholder consultation, femicide, community policing, the upcoming European Parliament elections, shrinking space for civil society, and diversity and intersectionality.

Parents First – Ideas for potential contributors

Parents International is holding a scientific conference combined with a marketplace of inspiring practices providing meeting, showcasing and networking opportunities for researchers, parent leaders, practitioners working with or for parents and representatives of the media on 3/6 November 2019 in Vienna, Austria. The Call for Abstracts is open until 30 April 2019.

If you have scientific research, inspiring practice or an interesting project, we would like to hear about it. Some ideas about topics:

  • Empowering parents as educators
  • Parenting as and for active (digital) citizenship
  • Working with vulnerable parents (eg. parents with low levels of education, migrant and refugee parents)
  • Balancing work and family life
  • Early childhood development provisions for families
  • Role of parents in access to quality, equitable education
  • Parents and STEM
  • Parenting in the digital age
  • Health and well-being
  • Parents in the leadership of services (eg. School leadership)
  • Parenting special needs children
  • Parental career guidance and parents in vocational education and training
  • Gender issues both of parents and of children
  • Basic skills and competences – roles in providing for them (eg. financial, entrepreneurial, digital or language skills)

The Summit will focus on parents as primary educators, the first and most impacting educators of their children, and will tackle the topics of parental roles, responsibilities, needs and challenges. The event will have a strong focus on equity, and thus put a major emphasis on holistic, lifelong learning approaches to empower disadvantaged parents.


We invite abstracts for papers, panel discussions, poster presentations, workshop proposals and marketplace exhibitions within the wide topic of 21st century parenting.

The abstract should be a maximum of 350 words + references (maximum 10) and include the following:

Title of proposal

Type of proposal (paper, poster, etc.)

Key words (maximum of 5) reflecting the topic/theme of your submission, so that the paper can be placed in the most appropriate session

General description, research questions, objectives, theoretical framework, rationale

Methods/methodology (if applicable)

Research findings and or conclusions (if applicable)


Please submit names of all authors/contributors, affiliations and email addresses and specify who will be presenting.

Please make sure that the quality of your abstract is good, since accepted abstracts will be published in the book of abstracts on-line and in print. The conference language and thus abstracts’ language is English. (Simultaneous translation is to be confirmed)

Please send you abstract to Luca László, Project Manager luca (at) parentsinternational (dot) org

Decision on the acceptance of abstracts will be done by the organising committee consisting of members of the Advisory Board of Parents International and chaired by a representative of the Supervisory Board.

Abstract submission closes on 30 April 2019

Decision on the acceptance of abstracts by 15 June 2019


Early bird registration will be possible between 1 March and 30 April 2019

Registration will close on 20 September 2019


100 short reminders about parental engagement – a new book by dr Janet Goodall and Kathryn Weston

The ‘official’ target group of this great new book is primary teachers, namely teachers in English schools, but apart from very few system-specific references, this is a unique resource also for teachers in other countries and at other levels (starting from early childhood provisions), but also for parent leaders and parents’ organisations for training purposes enabling them to cooperate better with schools and understand their role as equal partners of teachers.

The authors know schools, teachers and parents very well. They know that school teachers (as well as most parents) are very busy and may find it difficult to read longer texts. So, the book provides simple and short reads that you can do at a one-per-day or whole-book-in-one-go speed. It starts with facts, evidence and approaches that any experienced parent leader or trainer working on parental engagement will find obvious. This is why it is so important to write it down. It is not obvious at all for many teachers, I would say the majority of teachers in some school systems, and we may omit it in our trainings or narrative.

In my teacher training as well as discussion with teachers I regularly come across the fact that parents are often perceived as scary, and this is a key element that may overshadow home-school relations. This partly comes from traditional training. I keep telling people that scaring us of parents was part of my own initial teacher training a few decades ago. This book does not ignore this phenomenon, but rather gathers evidence and convincing argument to counteract it. Reading the book teachers will hopefully understand that parents are or at least can be allies if a small effort is made to engage them.

Effort is the second key word. When we push for understanding that working with parents is an important part of any teacher’s job, the reply is often about huge workloads and accountability to authorities. Janet Goodall and Kathryn Weston seems to be convincing enough when they explain how some time and energy investment in engaging parents at the beginning will have high payoffs: it makes lives of teachers easier on the long run, and by having supportive parents behind them learning outcomes are better that most often result in better test results and happier supervisors.

The third key element is practical tips. Once you decide to engage parents, you may lack ideas and tools, especially to work with parents that are not from your league, speak another language, have some hostility towards school or seem to be unreachable. Small tricks as well as easy-to-implement engagement strategies described in a simple way help those already converted to parental engagement. Using practical ideas and tried-and-tested methods in the book helps teachers to implement their personal engagement strategies with less investment, building on experiences of others and methods that have worked in other contexts.

At the same time there is a need for a word of warning. In many ways this publication is very similar to a recipe book. You may not find all ingredients in your own kitchen and not all recipes will agree with your personal taste. So, as with any good recipe book, the best way to use it is to find the tips that work for you. You cannot go wrong, all of them are based on strong and evidence-based belief in the importance of working with parents. The authors also recommend that compare your recipes with others. That way you will not only find what modifications to a recipe may improve your cooperation even further, but will also help you as a teacher, trainer or parent leader to see that you are not on your own with your issues and overcoming them is easier in collaboration with other teachers or more experienced parents.

dr Janet Goodall is supporting the work of Parents International charing our Advisory Board

The book:

Janet Goodall –  Kathryn Weston: 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers:  Engaging Parents (Bloomsbury 2018.)


Democratic schools to educate active citizens

Parents International was invited to the 6th International Mayors’ Conference – ACT.NOW held in Vienna, 27/29 January 2019.  As the main topic of this year’s conference was youth participation in communities, the role of parents in supporting their children to become engaged was highlighted in the discussions. This interactive event also made it possible for participants to propose new actions, and the one proposed by Parents International’s representative, the Chair of our Supervisory Board was selected for realisation. Feel free to contact us if you are interested to participate and orangise School Referenda.

ActNOW Conference Group Picture lowres 1024x683

The School Referendum proposed by Parents International is an active participation and awareness raising project that is easy to implement in any school environment. Organised locally by parents, it helps to make schools more participatory and democratic, creating ownership of learning and school.

Conference report from the NOW webite:

Frank, open, uncensored, and on equal terms: The 6th International Mayors’ Conference NOW provided ample space for intense dialogue and innovative formats, such as Sparkling Inputs and World Cafés, to discuss the concerns of young people and find ways to involve them in decision-making processes. From 28 to 29 January 2019, some 240 participants from 28 countries – about a third of them young people as well as policymakers, representatives of NGOs, and experts – took a closer look at the questions of how to promote social cohesion and facilitate participation.

What the society of tomorrow will look like is decided here and now. Although they are directly affected by the consequences of these decisions, young people are often not sufficiently taken into account. Dedicated to the overarching theme “Promoting Social Cohesion – Youth Participation in our Communities”, the International Mayors’ Conference NOW, hosted by Act.Now from 28 to 29 January 2019 for the sixth time, enabled young people to finally take centre stage. Talking with young people instead of about them was the primary objective of the two-day conference at the Gösserhalle venue in Vienna.

The event took place under the auspices of the Austrian Federal President, Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen, and was organised in cooperation with the City of Vienna, represented by Mag. Jürgen Czernohorszky (Executive City Councillor for Education, Integration, Youth and Personnel), who opened the conference together with the founders of Act.Now, André Heller, Patricia Kahane and Elke Zuckermann. “Politics shall always strive to reach all people and understand their concerns. This is particularly true for children and adolescents,” as Czernohorszky explained. Welcomed by the attending mayors with great interest, the City of Vienna will launch a new project to offer thousands of young people the opportunity to participate. “Trust and respect are indispensable values for any society that includes young people.” A great personality to embody these values, as Czernohorszky said, was Pawel Adamowicz. The participants of the NOW Conference held a moment of silence to pay their respects to the mayor of Gdańsk, who was violently assassinated two weeks earlier.

Diversity of Perspectives: Three-Generations-Talk

The beginning of the conference was marked by a special press conference bringing together three generations in one panel: André Heller (born 1947, co-founder of Act.Now), Diana Guenther (born 1971, researcher and community development worker focusing on participation of marginalised youth in Canada) and Natalie Haas (born 1995, Austrian UN Youth Delegate) shed light on the issue of youth participation from their individual perspectives. “This participation must be possible at all levels of society – from kindergarten to international politics.” According to André Heller, “In earlier times, participation was not even possible at the family level,” which is also why there was still a lot of work to be done. “Young people are well-informed, concentrated, and don’t take important issues lightly. It actually borders on insolence to not listen to them. We should rather encourage them to get involved.” A global challenge that requires the immediate participation of young people, today more than ever before, is climate change – as all three generations agree. After all, “Older generations will probably not have to deal with the consequences of climate change anymore, but young people for sure,” Haas attested. The three panellists could also agree on other important issues, such as the precarious job situation of young people and the future of democracy. “We need young people to solve these problems. Young people are creative, question everything, and are less willing to live with compromises,” emphasised Diana Guenther. A joint approach to solve these problems, the entire panel agreed, must be based on political participation at all levels. We need “politics to address structural inequality. No politics of fear,” so Guenther. One of Heller’s ideas attracted special attention: “It would be good for all of us, if at least one third of our parliament consisted of young people.”

Promising Practices: Imitation Welcome

In the course of a walking tour, the participants of the conference shared their experiences on exemplary projects in the areas of youth participation, social cohesion, education and integration from 15 different countries. Sarah Susanj (former child mayor), for example, presented the “Children & Youth Council” in Opatija (Croatia), founded in 2001: this setting enables children and young people to play a part in the city and to express their opinions on all questions related to them. The Children & Youth Council is made up of representatives from all levels of primary school as well as two representatives from disadvantaged areas in Opatija. Inspiration, encouragement and networking: these are the three pillars of the Austrian initiative “Schule im Aufbruch”, presented by Peter Schipek. The primary goal of the initiative is to support children in further developing their potential, enthusiasm and creativity in school, and to encourage schools to make it happen.

Inspiration & Discussion

The segment “Sparkling Inputs” – short presentations with visuals – provides further inspiration and cause for discussion. The 17-year-old Fahima Elmi (Dutch Ambassador to the Forgotten Child Foundation and first nominee from the Netherlands for the International Children’s Peace Prize) encouraged her peers to actively promote change. When she was just eleven years old, Fahima managed to have Dutch shelters for women offering child care. “Each and every one of us can be a change maker. Changes don’t always have to be big. And it is perfectly fine to not always have an answer to everything. Don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind. Change begins in our heads. Change begins here and now.” Ali Mahlodji, founder of whatchado and European Youth Ambassador, wanted everyone to believe in their potential and to not give in to disorientation. We cannot quit – just like a child that keeps on trying to get up and walk even after falling over dozens of times. According to Gari Pavkovic, the long-standing head of integration policy in the city of Stuttgart, integration and participation should always be considered together. With a share of 45 per cent immigrants in Stuttgart, the city is committed to granting all residents the same opportunities and options of participation.

The final declaration of the conference on promoting social cohesion through youth participation in communities can be downloaded from here: