Greece lies at a very strategic point in the world atlas. Being at the crossroad between the western and eastern world, Greece has received influences from both sides. However, one would expect Greek society to be more open-minded when it comes to diversity culture. But instead, Greeks seem to be frustrated even for their own identity and how they accept differences.
This identity frustration is highlighted in Dr Triantafyllidou’s work, which describes Greece as “being of but not in Europe”. This long division in Greek society runs for decades and shows no unified front, at least identically.
This inconsistency leads to difficulty in cultivating an accepting and culturally diverse Greece. When there is no consensus on Greece’s own identity that seems always to be balancing between left or right, west or east, Hellenism or Romiosyne, it is challenging to create a diversity culture.
To achieve wider social cohesion in Greece, organizations that promote diversity are of utmost importance. If Greeks do not find their identity, how can we expect them to embrace diversity and differences?
What is Diversity in Culture?
Diversity refers to an obvious fact of human life that everyone is different and that there are lots and different kinds of people. Specifically, the realization that our experiences, what we feel, see, or do, are not universal comes at a really young age during our development. And that is the moment that humans first develop some sense of their own identity.
Societies are de facto diverse, and diversity has many faces, even inside homogenous groups of people. Probably, many think that diversity equals chaotic differences, but this is not true in most cases.
The manifestation of diversity falls under the following categories:
- Cultural diversity
- Racial diversity
- Religious diversity
- Age diversity
- Sex/Gender diversity
- Sexual orientation
Based on the above categories, when we think at a societal level about diversity, it is evident that diversity comes in abundance, and it is inevitable. When thinking outside our own selves, the closest and most relatable thing is probably our family or our close friends.
And even from that first line of our socialization, diversity is always present and takes various forms, but most notably, age and gender. Even though everyone from a really young age is confronted with diversity during all stages in our lives, not everyone appreciates diversity or develops the respect necessary for having an inclusive society.
Therefore, in developing a diversity culture, education plays a significant role together with role models and organizations that diversity inclusion and tolerance in society.
Organizations that Promote Diversity Culture in Greece
There are many different manifestations of diversity in Greek society, and the number of organizations that promote respect for diversity reflects that. No matter what someone identifies with, it is certain that an organization somewhere in Greece promotes those identifying values.
For example, as far as it concerns religious diversity, Greece is a rather homogenous country in terms of religion, with 90% per cent of the population identifying as Greek Orthodox. Greek Orthodox church is also described in the Greek Constitution as the “prevailing religion”.
However, someone can find a wide array of Christian Churches, denominations, and other religious communities, mostly in Athens and Thessaloniki’s. Namely, someone can find and attend Protestant Churches, Greek Evangelical Churches, Anglican and Catholic Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques.
Another diverse community that is very active in Greece in that past years is the LGBT+ community. LGBTQ+ organizations want to maximize the visibility of LGBT people in Greek society and thus promote their rights and demands. A significant milestone for the LGBT community in Greece was the legalization of civil unions between same-sex couples.
Some Greek organizations that promote cultural diversity in the LGBTQ+ Sphere are:
- Athens Pride Week is also the hosting organization of Athens Pride in Athens every year
- Thessaloniki Pride that similarly to the above organizes the Thessaloniki Pride
- Athens LGBTQ Youth Community
- This is Athens that combines LGBTQ+ rights and Arts and Performances
Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Organizations
From the list of organizations that promote cultural diversity in Greece, there could not be missing those promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Greece currently has the lowest rates of women’s employment in the EU and is at the bottom of the Gender Equality Index for EU countries.
There is a lot of work to be done in the domain of women empowerment in Greece, that any discussions on breaking the glass ceiling in female leadership or businesses now seems out of touch with reality.
Those interested in women empowerment and gender equality issues in Greece can join one of the following organizations:
- Women on Top – an organization for the professional empowerment of women and equality at the workplace
- Women Act – empowering women in leadership
- Lean in Circles-Hellas – gender equality
- MExoxo – Women’s and Girls Education
- DIOTIMA – The Centre for Research on Women’s Issues
Racial and Cultural Diversity
As was previously mentioned, Greece is quite a homogenous country with a rich history in emigration rather than immigration. Greek diaspora has established many communities, even in the most distant parts of the world like Australia and the United States.
Nevertheless, even though many Greek families have relatives worldwide who migrated mostly for economic reasons, many Greeks still view immigrants in Greece with suspicion. The country’s homogeneity started in the 1990s after the revolutionary waves in central and eastern Europe against communist rule.
Now, Albanian Immigrants account for roughly 70% of total immigrants in Greece, but many organisations promote cultural diversity for other communities too.
For example, the organizations below are only some organizations that promote cultural pluralism and social inclusion in Greek society.
- The Home Project – Provides care for unaccompanied migrant children
- United African Women Organization in Athens
- Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity
- Melissa Women Network for migrant and refugee women in Greece
- Arsis – Social Support of Youth
- Solidarity Now – NGO committed to improving vulnerable people’s lives
- Human Rights 360 – human rights movement
As Greece still needs to find its own identity to achieve social cohesion in all aspects of life, organizations that promote cultural diversity and social inclusion are critical. Change is inevitable in the long run, as it is also true for resistance to change for a large portion of the population. Therefore, organizations that cultivate Greece’s diversity culture are crucial to speeding up, creating a respectful and diverse rich society.
iED’s Impact on Diversity Culture
Institute of Entrepreneurship Development (iED), with its long-standing experience in EU projects, has implemented various projects related to social inclusion, cultural diversity and gender equality. Those European projects belong to various EU Funding programmes that create an impact not only in Greece but at a Pan-European level.
iED is currently implementing the RESPECT project as a project partner that trains staff on how to manage cultural diversity, will develop a new e-learning tool in the form of a web TV channel to share best European practices in the social inclusion of young people belonging to different cultural minority groups, and will finally launch an awareness-raising campaign under the name “Youth R.E.S.P.E.C.T thru Cre8tivity”.
Stay tuned to learn more updates on RESPECT project, or contact us to become partners on your cultural diversity EU project.