University of Extremadura – Extremadura, Spain

The University of Extremadura has an Equality Office which was initiated in 2004 by University management. The office was created in order to improve gender inequality recognized as a structural problem throughout society and manifested in the academic field. The Office has a specific focus on supporting women and LGBTQ+ students and staff. These groups were identified on the basis of national plans/legislation, the university’s internal policies as well as suggested by citizens and the broader community. There are no specific targets for access of specific equity groups.

In the last two years the office has carried out the following activities with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity:

  • Support and counselling for students and university staff, 
  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff, 
  • Training courses for peer educators, 
  • Public promotion. 

Training courses for peer educators have been singled out as having the greatest impact. In addition to activities to support inclusion, the office implements binding policy (legislation), strategy/action plans, recommendations/guidelines and preventive programmes to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices at the university.

The program also implements innovative practices/tools. One such tool is a Gender Equality Plan which is currently implemented for the 2021-2025 period.

The Office was created to address gender inequality among staff and students which was recognized as a key challenge university leadership wanted to address. The Equality Office promotes and actively collaborates in all activities that ensure the promotion of equality between women and men in the university environment as well as intervening in the prevention, early detection and correction of behaviors that threaten it. It especially focuses on violence against women. In addition, the Office includes among its functions the promotion of respect for LGBTI diversity and its defense against LGBTIphobic behavior. The success of the Office rests on its multiple activities: diagnosis, improvement plans, training, attention to situations of violence and discrimination. The usefulness of the service lies in the combination of all of these tasks and in constant contact with students and staff.
Although the organization and management of the Office is internal, the structure is determined by Law (Spanish law requires this type of structure).
Structurally, the office depends on the Rector. There are currently two members of the Equality Office: the director of the office and an equality administrator. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are explicitly mentioned both in the office’s and in the university’s strategies, policies and work plans. Members of the office and University management contribute most to decisions regarding programme design and other activities. The office is part of a national network. The benefits of participating in the network include consultations to institutions, sharing knowledge of good practices and development of useful ideas for all universities.
The main challenge that had to be overcome to establish a successful Office was to improve the sensitivity and commitment of the university community to the problem of gender inequality. The main obstacle to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the office is limited university resources since there is no specific public funding allocated for the Office.
There is a formal evaluation process of the Office. Quality indicators for results depend on each of the measures that are being implemented as part of the Gender Equality Plan. Quality indicators require the collection of various forms of data and the final evaluation report is available to the general public.

Equality Office

Extremadura, Spain