European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) hosted the second EIGE-Civil Society annual consultation meeting in February in Vilnius. The meeting brought together representatives of the Social Platform, MenEngage Network, European Economic and Social Committee and the European Women’s Lobby. There were representatives from the Executive Committee and Board members attending. I was one of the EWL representatives.

The purpose of the meeting was to create synergies in promoting gender equality through the exchange of plans and ideas. It was a very full first day. There were workshops in the first session looking at a new gender sensitive parliament tool being developed to collect empirical data to measure the gender sensitivity of a parliament and their organisation and work, opportunities and risks of digitalisation for young people, and work-life balance. The workshops were designed to inform EIGE about issues and how the General Equality Index (GEI) that they produce can support this work. This was followed by presentations from each of the participating organisations which again informed our discussions around the GEI as well as enabling shared learning in the networking breaks. There were also bilateral meetings with EIGE on the second day to reflect on the actions for the 2017 plan and update the plan for 2018. Areas we agreed we could work together included sexual harassment in the workplace, improving data for ending violence against women, Istanbul Convention, and possible joint events including gender budgeting, and anti- trafficking directive. We also suggested that mapping resources for women’s organisations would be helpful.

More information will be available once information from the two days has been collated and digested. Read more about EIGE and the GEI here. It is a rich source of information which they are constantly improving and our joint work informs and enhances this work. During the discussions the need for disaggregated data was recognised by all participants.

We know on-line violence against women and girls is part of the continuum of violence against women and girls. Its effects on women – from psychological to economical – are far-reaching. Last year EWL was funded to analyse the current state of on-line violence against women and girls in Europe. EWL brought together diverse actors from across Europe to come up with innovative solutions and policy recommendations to fight this pervasive violation of women’s human rights and create a safer, more inclusive web for all women and girls. As a result of this work the Lobby produced HerNetHerRights Resource Pack and Report. This is a particularly creative and imaginative piece of work giving us information and tools we can use. Very timely given the pace at which on-line violence has become a real issue.

One in three women in the EU, or 62 million women, has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. The Lobby created a fact sheet. The content is based on the contribution of the experts of the EWL Observatory on Violence Against Women Fact sheet. It has been designed to have maximum impact and help us with our advocacy work to end violence against women and girls. It has been produced in 7 languages and more to come.

In December to mark the International Day of Human Rights (10th December) the Lobby held a high level conference – “Istanbul Convention: What policies transform commitments into reality? – in partnership with the Council of Europe. Find here the full agenda of the event and here an album with all the pictures of the day. This followed the Loud and United Event held in June as part of the General Assembly forum to celebrate the Observatory’s 20th anniversary. Details in the September newsletter. See the video of the anniversary event here 

Gwendolyn Sterk represents the UK on the Observatory and was very much part of these initiatives.