By Lois Jones

THE Institute for Women's Interests will shortly become part of government structure in the Balearics.
Amongst other objectives, one of its longer term projects involves making men more responsible for domestic work.
The vice-president of the Balearic government and Minister for Institutional Relations, Rosa Estarás, was speaking yesterday at the opening of the 7th Summer Symposium of Gender Studies. The course, organised by the University of the Balearics (UIB), has as its motto this year: “Globalisation, Feminism and Solidarity”.
At the end of the opening ceremoney, Estarás announced that during the present government's term of office, the Balearic Institute for Women's Interests will be transferred from the now defunct Ministry of Social Welfare to the President's Office co-ordinated by Maria Rosa Puig. The vice-president argued that this change signalled that “problems appertaining to women aren't just social, but also cultural, educational and involve politics in every area.” She reported that the appointment of a new Institute director, whose name would be published in the next few days, was just about to be finalised. The government wants to see this institution encouraging “active policies for taking steps towards equality of opportunity”, Estarás explained.
The objectives of the Institute will comprise the undertaking of an “ambitious programme” of nurseries, campaigns for raising awareness, as well as working for the “updating of traditional thinking on women's place in society”. Estarás pointed to the fact that “women have taken the step of leaving the household and venturing out into the workplace and positions of political decision-making”. Men, however, have been “slow to enter into the domestic arena” and hence this inequality will be one of the “struggles” of the Institute for Women.
During the presentation of the 7th Summer Symposium on Gender Studies, Doctor Esperanza Bosch, a teacher of Psychology Studies at the University of the Balearics and one of the course organisers, made a special point of reporting that there had been such high demand for enrolment that inscription had to be closed when 138 pupils had been admitted. Similarly, the rector of the University of the Balearics, Avel.lí Blasco, agreed that the inequality between men and women has to be “a fundamental aspect of our research and a basis of teaching”. He also announced the creation of an “equality watchdog”, one of his electoral commitments when he was campaigning to become rector of the university.
The watchdog will combat discrimination based on sex or other factors, within the university environment.
The government vice-president gave personal support by pledging to back equal opportunities from within the Balearic Executive and voiced her encouragement for women to lead such movements themselves as it is they who will be benefiting from their success. The programme of workshops began yesterday and will finish on Friday, 11 July.
This week, attendees at the conference will tackle subjects such as sexism in textbooks, the role of women during the Second Republic and their contribution in the Balearics following the civil war, workplace opportunities and the relationship between feminism and globalisation.