Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson marked the European Institute for Gender Equality’s (EIGE) opening at a conference today in Vilnius. The Institute, the first EU agency to be based in one of the Baltic States, will collect data and statistics on gender-equality issues and help the European Commission make evidence-based policy decisions.

According to the Lithuanian President, equality between women and men is a fundamental right and a common value of the European Union. The European Parliament and Council places a special focus on gender equality. For this purpose, a new European agency has been created – the European Institute for Gender Equality – with its seat in Vilnius. “I am delighted that the best gender equality experts from across Europe will work and share their knowledge in Lithuania and that their work, practical and theoretical research will contribute in a major way to our joint efforts towards genuine, not supposed gender equality”, president said.

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, said the Institute will also help raise the visibility of gender equality issues. “Vilnius is the place Europe will turn to when expertise in gender issues is needed,” Vice-President Reding said on the occasion of the Institute’s opening ceremony. “The European Commission is looking forward to receiving technical assistance from the Institute.

EIGE Director Virginija Langbakk commented that the Institute's role is not only about disseminating information on gender equality but also includes involving public figures who care about equality problems in various forms of cooperation. She said that much is expected to be done in the area of gender equality, urging all those who care to contribute to the promotion of gender equality and show initiative in everyday life. According to the Director, everyone who makes at least a small contribution in putting gender equality at the top of the agenda helps towards the development of a new society free from previous stereotypes about men and women.

Held at the Town Hall of Vilnius, the conference: “Equality between Women and Men, Progress, Challenges and Best Practices”, addressed topics related to gender equality, looked at ongoing as well as potential challenges, and discussed progress and best practices. The conference was attended by high-ranking EU officials, Lithuanian politicians and representatives of community-based organisations.

Events on the occasion of EIGE's opening kicked-off during the afternoon of 20 June with a concert staged by the most popular local bands at the Town Hall Square of Vilnius. During the concert, the crowd participated in a series of interactive activities. The evening was rounded-up with EIGE’s official launch of an open competition to citizens for the creation of its official logo. This logo competition will provide an opportunity for all European Union citizens to demonstrate their talents and creativity.

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