THE European Union is planning a series of workshops and cultural activities in the Philippines to close the financial literacy and technology gap among women, and combat traffcking.

The Austrian ambassador, Bira Rasoulian, in her capacity as the EU Delegation’s main gender advocate in the Philippines, said she will help organize activities that will tackle “exactly the issues that are most pressing in the Filipino society. So it is trafficking, it is education or the lack of education, it is giving women the possibility to learn financial literacy, to learn tools in order to also close the technology gap,” she said.

Ms. Rasoulian, who was appointed EU Gender Champion, said the activities will launch this month to mark International Women’s History Month. Events include a film screening and gender sensitivity training for journalists.

“A number of these we will roll out again more extensively also in other provinces. We are going to be using different commemorative dates in the international calendar to raise awareness of different campaigns for those specific themes,” Ms. Rasoulian said.

Ms. Rasoulian said the project’s broad themes include protecting the physical and psychological integrity of women and girls, their social and economic rights, and strengthening their participation in governance and decision-making.

She said she will work with the Philippine national and local government, non-government organizations, and international stakeholders as the representative of the European delegation to collaborate on gender-based initiatives.

“You have one person who is the focal person for all the stakeholders,” she said.

“I think this person unites the voice of all the EU’s different embassies and EU delegation, and is the face of the whole of commitment of the EU in the Philippines. And it is much easier I would think for the stakeholders… to discuss their initiatives, see where we have common ground and where we can collaborate”

Rafael de Bustamante, the First Counsellor of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, told attendees at the launch event of the gender champion that the EU and its member states are committed to protect the rights of women and girls.

“We reaffirm are full and unwavering commitment to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals by 2030,” he said.

One of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals is gender equality, with the aim of ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, eliminate violence and harmful practices, and recognize the value of unpaid domestic work, among others. — Jenina P. Ibañez