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EIGE in Vilnius, Lithuania © Eige - Eige
EIGE in Vilnius, Lithuania © Eige
Girls, next stop is Vilnius. That is, if you are into women's issues. Last month, we reported in our gender equality blog on the opening of the EU's first ever only women's rights agency, called EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality) in the Lithuanian capital.

Never heard of EIGE? Well, you are not alone. And this is in essence one of the biggest challenges of this prestigious multi-million pound project funded by the EU Member States. Nobody knows about it, not of its establishment this June and much less the idea of EIGE, itself.

Luckily for EIGE and the EU bureaucrats, they have found Virginija Langbakk, an energetic, inspiring and enthusiastic Swede who looks nowhere close to her 53 years or like the grandmother she already is. In fact, she is that Meryl Streep type of women who makes you look forward to the second half of your life where we can still have great looks, energy and fun but be so much more relaxed.

After lots of delays and a one year application process, Virginija has been appointed director of EIGE. "It has been very long, I flew to Brussels so many times for several rounds of application", she says. "They really wanted to make sure to find the right person. Or at least the one they think is right."

Langbakk has been working in International Development for several years organising trainings and modules on gender equality in developing countries. She says of the application procees: "I was somewhat an outsider and not sure if they would not rather have someone that is already within the EU system." They didn't.

The institution is supposed to serve as a "hub of experts on gender issues" and deliver "data and best practices of all kinds" on all issues relat
EIGE's director Virginia Langbakk at the opening. © Eige
EIGE's director Virginia Langbakk at the opening. © Eige
ed to women and gender equality.

So far it’s completely off the radar and Langbakk is tasked with making it known to the public and political stakeholders – it’s an enormous undertaking.

The range is somewhat broad: From women and men in the workforce (including working schemes, equal pay, and reconciliation of private and professional life) to women in development or violence against women. EIGE's and therefore Virginija's primary work description is to be the first point of reference for comparable data, tools and techniques that are being pioneered across the EU.

"Our ambition is to be the unique place where everything on gender is available”, Virginija explains. In the future, the Institute will also develop a comprehensive Gender Equality Index to rate Member States in their quality of life for women.”




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Shila Meyer Behjat
19/06/2010
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