PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: “I am confident that with the contributions of Malta’s young women, the political future of our nation is in safe hands”

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca inaugurated ‘Artemisia’, an exhibition organised by the Network of Young Women Leaders, celebrating the stories of 100 remarkable women and their narrative of courage, of leadership, and of hope yesterday at San Anton Palace.

The President commended the Network of Young Women Leaders for their commitment to ensuring that young women in Malta and Gozo have a voice and can work together to promote equity and inclusion within our communities and across our society, and noted that the Network is growing and is undertaking meaningful initiatives focusing on gender empowerment.

The Network was not only created to provide a safe space for young women to come together and explore their ambitions. It is also encouraging connections between women of different generations by providing an environment where women who are already active in political life can offer their expertise and support, the President explained.

Although we have, both as an international community and as a country, made important strides forward to improve gender equality, there is still so much to be done

President Coleiro Preca said that inequalities between women and men and between girls and boys continue to play a negative role in the lives of countless individuals and families, adding that unacceptable discrepancies in terms of women’s economic and political empowerment are having a destructive effect on our global economies and cultures.

Women are being paid less; women are being underrepresented in political, social, and economic sectors; and the authentic voices and concerns of women are less likely to be heard in our media and across our culture, argued the President.

The President also drew attention to the crucial need for women to be visible role models in society, saying that we need more inspirational female figures to encourage the participation of girls and young women in the social, political, cultural, and economic lives of our communities and our society. For this reason, ‘Artemisia’ is particularly timely and necessary, because when we talk about motivating young women to achieve their full potential, I believe that we must first of all lead by example.

The President cited a recent study co-authored by Esther Duflo, Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, highlighting the importance of female role models to determine the attitudes and to nurture the ambitions of girls and young women. The report offers conclusive evidence on the powerful effect that direct leadership, through inspirational women in political life, can have on the future prospects of girls and young women and states that localities which had long-serving female leaders in positions of authority within local government saw a massive reduction in their gender gap in education for teenage girls. This was due to the fact that girls had set higher goals for themselves and worked towards achieving these goals.

The report also shows that parents are 25 percent more likely to have higher expectations for their daughters when women leaders are active role models, creating a home environment to support and nurture their daughters’ ambitions.

The President said that the study reveals just how far-reaching the inspirational effect of women leaders can be, and should encourage us to implement quota systems and other strategies for the inclusion of women at all levels of political and socio-economic life, adding that in today’s world, some ten countries in Europe including Norway, France, and Spain have already approved quota systems to ensure female representation on corporate boards.

President Coleiro Preca said that this is an important step towards the closing the gender pay gap, but most importantly to ensure that inspiring examples of female leadership are present within the corporate world.

Having women in positions of authority transforms public perceptions opens peoples’ minds on who can lead and the important qualities in effective leadership. Therefore there is no doubt that under-representation of female leadership in positions of influence and authority is having a negative impact on young women, said the President.

Gender quotas are one strategy which can help speed up positive change and encourage the ambitions of the next generation of girls and young women. The President added that our efforts to secure gender equality and the equitable empowerment of women and girls will be putting the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals into action, and will show our commitment to implement SDG 5 which specifically targets the particular challenges of poverty, exclusion, and violence that women and girls around the world face.

On concluding, President Coleiro Preca, appealed for women to contribute at every level of our cultural, social, economic, and political sectors, and for women’s skills, perspectives, and attitudes.

We must be the champions of social justice because we have all experienced injustice. We must bring a message of hope because we all know how hopeless it can feel to be unfairly held back or sidelined because of our gender. We must be courageous activists for peace and well-being by guiding our national and international policies in ways that are inclusive, fully participatory, and respectful of our diversity, the President concluded.

Source: Government of Malta