The 2019 General Assembly of COFACE took place in Barcelona, Spain, hosted by COFACE member L’Associació Salut i Família (ASF). The meeting was the occasion to collectively take stock of the impact of 2018 actions (advocacy, campaigns, innovation, study visits, conferences, expert meetings, position papers, assessments and much more), preparing key actions of the next six months of 2019, and brainstorming on key priorities for 2020 and beyond. In combination with the General Assembly, our hosts organised two key meetings which helped COFACE civil society organisations get more insight into the realities of their Spanish colleagues: a study visit of local ASF programmes, and a public round table on family policy in Spain.
The study visit of ASF programmes was themed: Mosaic of services for vulnerable women and families. ASF is an independent, private and non-profit organization working in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, based on principles of impartiality, equity and pro-choice. ASF maintains active collaboration with public administrations and also develops a sustained advocacy to make the needs of families and vulnerable people a subject of general interest and public investment. They run several programmes for families in vulnerable situations, and on the occasion of this visit focused on the following programmes:
- Care for maternity at risk, providing information on maternal and reproductive health, maternal health promotion and abortion prevention based on pro-choice principles;
- Mothers between two cultures, including intercultural health promotion and family planning;-Integration and employability for vulnerable mums of migrant origin, connecting women with professional training opportunities;
- Childhood is essential, supporting mothers in the early childhood years through nutrition, health advice and more;-Multiculture, assisting vulnerable women and families in escaping from isolation;
- Time banks, to support community-building and exchange in local communities across Spain.
The public round table hosted by L’Associació Salut i Família focused on Family policy in Spain in a European perspective. This round table brought together COFACE members and key Spanish stakeholders including representatives of family-friendly companies, the Ministry of social affairs, family carers and more. The round table started with a warm welcome by the presidents of ASF (Asumpta Baig) and COFACE (Annemie Drieskens), followed by a presentation by ASF Director, Elvira Mendez: “Overview of family policy in Spain: challenges and solutions”. This led to an exchange with COFACE members on challenges and solutions in their different countries, and ended with an update on the EU work-life balance directive by COFACE policy and advocacy officer, Pascual Martinez.
In the afternoon, COFACE members then continued their discussions focusing on transposition strategies for the EU worklife balance directive, different types of ECEC services provided by COFACE members (inclusive ECEC by UNAPEI and out-of-school services for children of single mothers by FAMS), the needs and work-life balance of families of children with disabilities and family carers in the sandwich generation, and finally the work of ProParents and Gezinsbond to strike up a dialogue with businesses and family-friendly workplaces.
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