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Mediterranean women: challenges and opportunities, a perspective from Malta

26.03.2019 / Created by IEMed
Mediterranean women: challenges and opportunities, a perspective from Malta

The conference "Women in the Mediterranean" was held on 13 March 2019 in la Valletta, Malta, and counted with the participation of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), founding member of the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation (FFEM).

The event, which was attended by an audience of more than 30 participants, was organized by the Department of Gender Studies of the University of Malta with the support of the French Embassy of Malta, represented by Elisabeth du Breil de Pontbriand, Cultural Councilor at the Embassy. The opening speech was delivered by the H.E. President of Malta, Ms. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca who reaffirmed her commitment to gender equality throughout the Mediterranean region.

Ms. Emilie Vidal, coordinator of IEMed’ Euro-Mediterranean Gender Equality Programme presented the main outcomes of the studies on legislative developments in the fields of women’s political participation and violence against women in the Southern Mediterranean. The event also provided an opportunity to expose the prevailing gaps laws’ enforcement with a focus on underage girls’ marriages as well as the benefits and challenges encountered to establish strong partnerships among research entities, local women’s organizations and public institutions. Finally, she reflected upon the issues at stake to ensure no rollback on gender equality policies given the current women rights’ backlash linked to the current political crisis, the rise of populisms and extremism and the crackdown of civil society in Europe and in the Arab countries.

Following the presentation, a responders’ panel and a discussion with the audience resolved around a variety of topics such as the need to reach wider audiences to raise awareness on gender equality; the inequality in-between Maltese women and asylum seekers women regarding access to social security or housing; and the crucial need to improve women’s access to the labour market to eliminate women’s economic dependency from their husbands or fathers. In conclusion, the panelists (academics, CSOs representatives and a representative of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality) put emphasis on the importance of educating women and men as a pathway to achieve substantial changes in society’s attitudes towards gender equality.

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