The Women’s House comes from the local feminist movement in 2010, and it has been built through a long participatory process with the women organisations of the city. The House is co-managed by the local administration and women’s entities organised via an umbrella association called “Casa de las Mujeres”. Actions, programmes and language courses are open to all women; around 1,000 women are members of the House. It’s worth noting that membership is granted for free upon request. While complicated to be put in place due to bureaucratic obstacles, the co-shared management model adopted by the women’s House was acknowledged as being successful and received a prize from the Basque Government for good management.
The House offers empowerment sessions, counsels on gender violence, feminist self-defence courses, in which migrant women as well as Roma women participate. They also provide legal and labour advice in women-related issues and in specific topics such as women in care services. Two main practices shall be highlighted:
- The Empalabramiento programme (a pun between word and empowerment in Spanish) is focussed on learning Spanish and improving language competences for migrant women, by deconstructing patriarchal discourses present in manuals. Contents include grammar, logics, history and feminism and - although the language course is mainly aimed at teaching Spanish language, it also includes basic Basque notions as a common language.
- “Iguálate” (be equal) is a campaign to promote the recognition of diplomas and competences acquired abroad. It pays special attention to women in the care services’ sector, to improve their recognition and employability as well as their working conditions. Although this issue is of national competence, some actions have been developed and implemented by the Basque government through its own legislative competence. Besides, there is a partnership with local companies to facilitate the incorporation of these women workers in the labour market. Most of the users of this initiative are Latin American women.