Women’s organisations on significance of Women’s Day
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, this week has been jam packed with events to commemorate this event. However on this day, the Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations (MCWO), not only celebrates our womanhood, but we also remind society, and the powers that be, that discrimination continues to exist around us. One of the most blatant forms of discrimination remains violence against women. A few days ago the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) issued the shocking results of its survey on this topic. One in three women in Europe have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and in more than one in five cases the abuse originated from an intimate partner rather than from a stranger. The report showed that almost half (43%) of the women in Europe have experienced some form of psychological violence at the hands of their partner. And still more shockingly 67% did not report the most serious incident of partner violence to the police or to any organisation. Hence, how can we even speak of equality in the face of this bleak reality?
The FRA report recommends that all EU states ratify the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No: 210) also known as the Istanbul Convention, and we were pleased to hear that Hon Helena Dalli Minister for Social Dialogue Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties announced that Malta will be ratifying it soon. Indeed the first reading of a bill to do so was on the parliamentary agenda on Wednesday evening. This followed the enactment of another positive legislative measure put forward by Hon Chris Fearne as a Private Members Bill that bans Female Genital Mutilation and which became law last January.
In other spheres equality between women and men has improved – but it still needs serious effort to be actually achieved. For example, although for many years we have had more women than men graduates at the University of Malta, very few of these women make it to the top of their professions. Glass ceiling? At the Enterprise Consultative Council Seminar organised by the Ministry of the Economy, Investment and Small Business this week, which was dedicated to women entrepreneurs someone jokingly referred to this as a concrete ceiling! And indeed it sometimes feels like that.
On a positive note this week, we have had the announcement that the Hon Marie Louise Coleiro Preca will become our new President. Whilst extending our congratulations and best wishes to her as our second female president of the Republic of Malta, the Confederation hopes that the barriers keeping women away from decision-making positions, continue to be dismantled in the name of equality and fairness.
The MCWO will continue to lobby on priority areas that are crucial to women’s equality in Malta.
The Confederation is an umbrella organisation that represents 14 local member organisations which collectively have 24,000 female members. The MCWO is a full member of the Brussels based European Women’s Lobby.