In October last year I attended the Annual EWL Board meeting. For me it was a time of reflection of my two years on the Board representing UKJCW. This year at the General Assembly there will be elections for the new Board and the Executive. We agreed that bringing the meetings of the Board, the Observatory on Violence Against Women and the working groups together worked well and we are planning a similar EWL Forum this year. It helps to reduce costs and enhances our ability to raise our profile and increase our presence for our work. We also agreed it provided a platform for EWL members to have a high level contact with the European Commission. At the last General Assembly we were joined by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission, and were able to communicate our vision and concerns for gender equality directly. The overarching theme this year will be ‘power’ and there will be a public event at the start of the forum.
We also spent time on the work life balance proposed directive and the need to prioritise this to ensure it has the best chance of success; CSW planning and EWL team attendance, and the joint Bugarian Presidency and EWL event; funding opportunities; and corporate Social Responsibility Guidelines and improved working between the Executive and the working groups.
The Executive meeting in January took place in the EWL’s beautifully renovated office in Brussels. There is now a meeting space to hold large meetings which is going to be a cost saving. The agenda for the day was packed, with a particular focus on reviewing our collective work in 2017, refining and assessing the role and tasks of the Executive Committee and planning key pieces of work in 2018.
It was an exciting and challenging year on many fronts with some great achievements like our work on violence against women and girls, the successful initiation and renewal of our working groups, the European Women’s Forum, the #HerNetHerRights project and also our healthy financial situation. This was all done against a backdrop of an ever-changing world where women’s rights and human rights are continuously under attack. Last year, we also said fond farewells to Valentina, Pierrette and Matilda. We welcomed Daniela Pichler, Policy and Campaigns Director and Catriona Graham, Policy and Campaigns Officer to the Team.