Universities have a fundamental role in promoting fairer, more egalitarian and inclusive societies because they are privileged spaces for the creation and dissemination of knowledge and civic values, which result not only from the exercise of their triple mission of teaching, research and third mission but also from the example they set at the institutional level through the policies and good practices they implement.
They can and should be institutions that promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion, not only in the context of higher education but also for society in general, as both teaching and research are fundamental tools for empowerment and social change. It is part of its mission: to serve society through knowledge.
At its foundation, NOVA took for itself the motto "Omnis Civitas Contra Se Divisa Non Stabit" - "every city divided against itself will not stand". This motto is a call for unity and, with equal force, for diversity and inclusion, for the 'city' is only thinkable as a cosmopolitan space, an ecosystem of the great diversity of people and knowledge.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their aspirations in life and NOVA must ensure that no one with merit and talent is denied that opportunity, regardless of gender, economic condition, religion, ethnicity or any other attribute.
In this sense, gender equality is, along with inclusion, a fundamental part of NOVA's commitment to contribute to a better and more sustainable society. A commitment that
we renew in this year, for us so important, of our 50th anniversary.
In 2019, we joined the European consortium SPEAR, within the scope of an H2020 project under the theme "gender equality". SPEAR's first objective was to promote institutional changes to increase women's participation in Research and Innovation and improve their career prospects. Two institutional changes deserve to be mentioned now.
As a result of the work developed with representatives from each of our schools, in 2021, the Plan for Gender Equality at NOVA was unanimously approved by the College of Directors and, with it, a set of measures to be achieved until 2025.
In the first semester of this year, the Office for Gender Equality and Inclusion will be created. It will work in the Rectory in articulation with our Organic Units, being responsible, among other responsibilities, for monitoring NOVA's performance in terms of gender equality in several areas; for promoting training and awareness initiatives on equality, diversity and inclusion addressed to the NOVA Community; and for recommending good practices to the management and leadership bodies.
The SPEAR Project has come to an end, but not our commitment. This one has just begun and is to continue. I count on all NOVA to be successful in this mission, with the awareness that there is still much to do, but with the strong conviction that we are on the right track.