International Women's Day 2018: Malta and around the globe

Malta joins the world in a day celebrating women and the need for change

The annual Women's March will take place tonight.
The annual Women's March will take place tonight.

Malta joins the world in emphasising empowerment for women, recognition and equality between genders on International Women's Day. 

This year's event comes on the back of figures that show the wage gap in Malta between genders worsening to 11% over the past four years and renewed calls for greater representation of women in decision-making roles.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca on Twitter said International Women’s Day must be a reminder of how much more needs to be done, "to ensure the equitable and dignified inclusion of all women, across every level of society".

Read also: Government to start discussion on women’s political representation quotas

A4E, the Association for Gender Equality said Malta currently placed 93 out of 144 countires in the Gender Equality Index issued by the World Economic Forum, lower than that occupied in 2013 when Malta ranked 88.

The European Institute for Gender Equality noted that Malta has not even reached its halfway goals (48%) in relation to equality between women and men. If this was an exam, Malta would have failed the test, A4E said.

“On the issue of violence on women, not only has government so far  failed to implement the Istanbul Convention, it has also failed in equipping our institutions with the necessary tools to fight violence on women and to set up prevention structures,” the association said.

A new law transposing the Istanbul Convention is currently being discussed in Parliament, however much will depend on the support structures on the ground.

“Women continue to be re-victimised by the institutions who fail to protect them and who often fail to acknowledge the economic hardships they go through, especially at a time when the rent rates are at their highest," A4E said.

Men should take part in gender equality debates - Miriam Dalli

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli said women wanted equal opportunities to show their capability, while addressing a seminar for journalists organised by the European Parliament to mark International Womenʾs Day.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli

Dalli, who became the first woman to be appointed news editor for a Maltese TV station, urged journalists and opinion writers to stand up to sexist narratives.

She said many women have found themselves in situations where they had to work harder just to prove themselves. But she also encouraged men to participate in gender equality debates, arguing men needed to be part of the process empowering women.


Noting the similarities in the obstacles faced by women in media and in politics, Dalli went on to explain how the Labour Party embarked on the LEAD initiative with the aim of increasing women candidates and female representation in elections.

“Initially I was against gender quotas, however I changed my mind - not only because there are different types of positive measures - but also because change is not going to happen on its own. Maltaʾs meagre female representation has been stuck to around the 10% representation since the 1950s, when women were given the right to vote,” Dalli explained.

The MEP said that once more women are in decision-making positions, girls will have more role models to look up to.

Not just about celebrating the grandiosity of women - PD

The Democratic Party said that Women’s Day should be a celebration of all women, everywhere.


PD described Daphne Caruana Galizia as the surrogate political mother to many women
PD described Daphne Caruana Galizia as the surrogate political mother to many women

“The grossly unacknowledged fundamental collective value of women is one of the most consequential factors that has lead us to create and proliferate a world with bloody wars, unbridled corruption on the political, societal and personal level, environmental degradation, wholesale poverty and the sorry state of the general health of the worlds’ population,” PD said.

The party also recalled the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who the PD described as "a surrogate political mother to many of us.” But the issue was bigger than one death, PD said, recalling the various women murdered over the years as they tried to escape abusive relationships.

PD said International women’s day should not only celebrate women and their grandiosity, but also, and most poignantly, it must also be the representation of the continuous struggle for equality, maturity, wisdom, tolerance, respect and love.

Tonight, the annual Women’s Day March will be held at Republic Street, Valletta at 5:30pm. The march, called ‘Semma’ Lehnek’ (raise your voice) will denounce violence against women and all forms of sexism.


Around the Globe

Women in Spain are taking part in the county’s first nationwide “feminist strike” to mark International Women’s Day. Some are not going to work for the whole day, while others are stopping for a two-hour stretch (from 11.30 to 13.30 or from 16.00 to 18.00).

There are also signs of more direct action in Catalonia, with protesters occupying streets in Barcelona, shutting down a railway line out of the Catalan capital and blocking a road between Barcelona and the town of Manresa. Protests are due to be held later today in cities across Spain.

Some prominent Spanish journalists are absent from news websites, radio and TV programmes today as they, too are on strike. Spain’s health, social services and equality minister, Dolors Montserrat, has described today’s action as “a social revolution for men and women”, but stressed that it “isn’t a war between the sexes”.

Fromer Irish president Mary McAleese said that the Catholic church is an “empire of misogyny”, ahead of a conference in Rome calling for women to be given leadership roles by the Vatican.

“The Catholic church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It’s an empire of misogyny,” McAleese told reporters.

“There are so few leadership roles currently available to women. Women do not have strong role models in the church they can look up to.”

She said a church hierarchy that was “homophobic and anti-abortion is not the church of the future”.

McAleese, a keynote speaker at the Voices of Faith conference, was refused approval by the Vatican, forcing organisers to relocate the event to another venue in Rome. No reason was given for the refusal, but McAleese is a vocal advocate for women’s and LGBT rights.

Former Irish president Mary McAleese
Former Irish president Mary McAleese

Two other women invited to speak at the event were also refused Vatican accreditation.

In South Korea, hundreds are staging a protest in support of the #MeToo movement on International Women’s Day, Associated Press reports.

Protesters, many wearing black and holding black signs reading #MeToo, gathered in central Seoul. They called for bringing alleged sexual offenders to justice, as well as action on other issues such as closing a gender pay gap.

British PM Theresa May’s took to Twitter to write about International Women’s Day, in which she flags many of the prominent women now in positions of power in the UK, 100 years after some women won the right to vote.