On the 20-21 February I went to Vilnius for the annual Civil Society Consultation meeting of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). I was joined by 85 participants from various organisations from around Europe, all members of European Networks: the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), Social Platform and MenEngage Europe informal network. We all came together to discuss issues of common interest and support the work of EIGE for the next years.

 

During two days of interesting discussions we found common synergies to advance gender equality across Europe. On the first day, after an introduction on the current work of EIGE for example the new edition of the Gender Equality Index released last year, we divided into three thematic workshops: “Work-Life balance in the Gender Equality Index 2019”, “Opportunities and risks of digitalisation for young people in the area of gender equality” and “Gender-sensitive parliament tool”. I attended the second workshop and shared information about Volonteurope’s work with young people and the interest in digital tools to empower young people to participate and contribute to society.

 

The different workshops provided opportunities for both the representatives of civil society organisations and the team of the Institute to have a lively and fruitful discussion and exchange practices and examples. These were followed by plenary sessions led by the three networks. The representative of the Social Platform led a conversation on how to engage with the Pillar of Social Rights and the work life balance directive and how to make it relevant to our work.

 

The second day a series of bilateral working meetings between the staff of EIGE and the partners were organized, and as representative of Volonteurope I attended the meeting of Social Platform.

 

It was great to have the possibility to visit 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 my own organisation Tulip Foundation can be strengthened with the support and research of this European agency.

Maria Petkova, Volonteurope board member and director of Tulip foundation