We are The Brussels Binder, the go-to resource for improving gender balance in policy debates
Debates that impact policy-making and the lives of European citizens take place in Brussels every day. We want to bring more gender diversity to those debates because we believe that good policy comes from new perspectives and fresh analyses which are reflective of the societies it impacts.
Therefore, we want to see more women with voice and power. We want them to participate in shaping our lives and inspiring future generations. Following these ideals, we created The Brussels Binder, a go-to resource for conference organisers and media outlets who seek to include expert women voices in their policy debates.
The Brussels Binder is a common good – a free database consisting of profiles of women experts based in Europe. It covers a multitude of sectors and it is constantly growing. Finally, it is a place where women experts connect and exchange.
Our story began in 2015 as an informal network of women from Brussels based think tanks who came together from time to time on topics of common interest. Out of these meetings grew the idea to build a database of women policy experts to provide a practical tool to ensure greater participation of women in policy shaping and debating. That small consortium rapidly grew to include representatives from all major policy think tanks and NGO’s in Brussels and received support from other institutions, including the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Commission and NATO, as well as corporate partners such as Rtesian and Google. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Brussels Binder was officially launched in 2017. It is now an ASBL under Belgian law and is led by our Board and a large group of dedicated volunteers.
You can read more about our story in our manual In the Making: Sharing the Experiences of Making Women Visible.
WHY A BRUSSELS BINDER ?
As Europe is faced with demanding challenges and big decisions, Brussels acts as a middle point where experts converge to inform and engage politicians, journalists, activists, consultants and bureaucrats on a wide range of political issues. Policies are debated at conferences that set the agenda for Europe’s future and draw attention from across the EU. The topics discussed are varied, but unfortunately the people debating them are not. Often, they are mostly male, and sometimes there is not a single woman included in the conversation.
According to the studies performed in the past years, only one-third of speakers at Brussels events were women. In two thirds of debates, the majority of speakers have been male and there have been twice as many all-male panels as equal panels. The Brussels Binder believes that unwillingness or inability to look beyond the ‘usual suspects’ to speak should not be the norm. Europe desperately needs intellectual diversity, and the key factor is including women experts that could contribute in bringing innovative ideas to tackle policy challenges.
In its 2016 communication on gender equality on corporate boards, the European Commission states that “not taking advantage of the skills of highly qualified women constitutes a waste of talent and a loss of economic growth potential.” This is equally valid for discussions that develop EU policy. There is not a supply problem, but a demand problem. The Brussels Binder seeks to solve this and will help achieve gender equality in EU policy debates by changing the thinking and behaviour of organisers and media, as well as encourage them to include more women experts in their activities.
WHY JOIN ?
Whether you are a conference organiser seeking for expertise or an expert available to speak about your work, the Brussels Binder serves as a hub where members of different communities can connect. For conference organisers, using the Brussels Binder is an easy, free and quick way to get access to a Europe-wide network of quality speakers. For experts, it is a tool to increase the visibility and impact of their analysis.
A network of Brussels-based women policy experts created the Binder. That means there is a strong support system for the project and that it was built by a committed group who believe in the benefits it will bring. This belief has brought together women whose expertise and skills stretch across different fields, and who bring together diverse experiences and backgrounds.
The Brussels Binder network is made up of a Steering Committee (i.e. team leaders), a core group (i.e. team members) and a larger group of volunteers (i.e. ad hoc support). The different teams include: secretary, treasurer, corporate partnerships, institutional partnerships, website and database content, legal issues, online community management, events, and general communications strategy.