On 24-25 January I went to Vilnius for a meeting with the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE). This year, EIGE invited Social Platform members together with some of the European Women’s Lobby, and Men Engage Europe national members.

It was great for me to go back to the European Agency for Gender Equality and reconnect with my former colleagues, as well as have the great opportunity to attend a meeting with around 70 other people from civil society organisations from across Europe, in order to discuss how we best we join forces with EIGE to advance gender equality in Europe.

During day one there were several interesting discussions and exchanges of strategies and practices. In the morning plenary, Christian Veske, EIGE’s Stakeholder Relations Officer, with the help of Slido, an interactive tool to carry out live polls via laptops and smartphones, asked which word would best summarise the topic that the participants wanted to focus and cooperate on, with Intersectionality being the winning topic. Intersectionality, in the case of EIGE is about understanding how sex and gender intersect with other personal characteristics/identities, for example age, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation etc., and how these intersections contribute to unique experiences of discrimination. The participants felt that it was a particularly important topic especially as EIGE will focus on the satellite domain of Intersecting inequalities in the third edition of the Gender Equality Index, expected in October this year.

Following this initial discussion, we were then divided into parallel workshops. I attended the one on Gender-based violence, in which we discussed EIGE’s work on FGM, the studies on administrative data collections and were consulted on the planning of the forthcoming work on the Anti-Trafficking Directive analysis. Moreover, we planned a common strategy for the activities for 2017 as part of the European Commission year for ending Violence Against Women. Here at the Secretariat, among other initiatives, we have joined the EU Commission campaign #SayNoStopVAW, raising awareness and talking about the work of our members and their volunteers fighting against violence against women.

Later in the afternoon I took part to the European Women’s Lobby session on the promotion of women’s human rights in a context of antifeminist attacks. We discussed the women’s marches around the world, campaigns and slogans and possible collaboration among different networks.

During the second day,  EIGE met with the aforementioned European networks separately. Volonteurope are members of Social Platform so I attended the meeting with EIGE and the Social Platform secretariat. Among other issues we agreed to disseminate information about EIGE’s research and stakeholder events, and likewise to share information about our activities that are relevant to them.

It was great to be back at EIGE, seeing how we can join forces to achieve gender equality and to see the developing synergies among the different networks and civil society organisations. Moreover, I saw how the Volonteurope secretariat’s work and the work of our members can be strengthened with the support and research of this European agency.