President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, argues that equality is about embracing diverse people of all genders
President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca stated that equality is about embracing diverse people of all genders and creating a context in which each and every person can pursue their legitimate aspirations whilst being respected in the fullness of their human dignity. The President was addressing the opening ceremony of the twelfth edition of the European Development Days, organised by the European Commission, which this year is focusing on women and gender equality.
“Gender inequality, and the barriers that women face to achieve quality economic empowerment, remains one of the biggest challenges to the successful implementation of the global commitment for inclusive growth.”
On the gender pay-gap, whilst quoting latest data from Eurostat, President Coleiro Preca stated that full-time working women in the EU would need an average rise of 19% of their hourly rate to match male wages. The President also quoted the latest European Institute for Gender Equality Index, which states that, in some areas, the gaps are even bigger than they were ten years ago.
“I would like to encourage us all during the European Development Days to take up more effective strategies for the increased inclusion of women in the socio-economic sectors of our Union,” the President said, whilst mentioning the implementation of access to free child-care centres in Malta as an example of an effective strategy which has contributed to a 6% increase in female participation in the Maltese workforce over the space of five years.
The President said that whilst Europe is making considerable strides forward in terms of legislation and policy, the same pace must be kept, to achieve the much-needed mental and cultural leap, to overcome prejudice, patriarchal oppressions, discrimination and socially-sanctioned abuses of privilege.
“If women and girls do not feel safe, protected, and respected, then their place within our economies will never truly reflect their potential.”
One in three women in the EU has been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, 1 in 20 women in Europe has been the victim of rape; 55% of women have been victims of sexual harassment and a third of women have experienced abused by a partner according to the European Commission.
The President stated that the full participation of women in the economic life of our countries cannot be achieved while women and girls are still subject to unacceptable threats to their safety and wellbeing. In light of this, the President praised the powerful synergy between the European Union and the United Nations who have come together to focus on the issue of ending violence on women and girls through the Spotlight Initiative. President Coleiro Preca has strongly encouraged the European Commission to support the newly-founded, Malta-based, European Observatory on Femicide.
President Coleiro Preca encouraged all those present to work together, to continue empowering women and girls, to effectively address the underlying challenges which are causing a widening gender-pay gap, and to end all forms of gender-based violence.