Samantha Pace Gasan's reflection following a number of events attended on achieving gender equality
Having attended a series of events in celebration for Women’s Day, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to listen to so many professionals speak of their experiences and share their knowledge, and to see so many other people engaged in the discussion; all with one aim:
WORKING HARD TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY
Women worldwide are still being discriminated upon fulfilling their dreams, discriminated at home, at school and at the workplace. Women are still lacking opportunities and being under-represented in decision-making bodies. Women still face challenges and barriers of prejudices and stereotypes, inequalities and violence.
The first event was a debate organised by MEUSAC “Reach Out to Girls Today, Empower Women Tomorrow”; which I attended to together with Rebecca Baldacchino, Scouts Association youths; and Chris Vella, from the National Youth Council. The discussion focused on development and the importance of involving women in the process, as well as promoting and securing their own personal development. I would like to refer to a statement that Mr. Ahmed Bugri, Managing Director Foundation for the Shelter and Support to Migrants, made “I have touched so many other people around the world, from a woman”, making reference to his mother who still lives in their home country with no education whatsoever.
Next I attended for the launch of the first ever CHOGM Women’s Forum which will be held later on in November in Malta. The positive energy of the pioneers there was impeccable, all very enthusiastic for the event, but mostly all interested in networking with one another to build a stronger movement of courageous women who have worked and are still working for equality between men and women. Standing up for what you believe and fighting for your own rights means that you are fighting for others’ rights too.
Finally, together with our Chief Commissioner Marjoe Abela, the President Dorothy Lapira, and Luana Bezzina and Elaine Attard from the Advocacy team, I attended for the Celebration organised by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society; where again many advocates for women’s rights were present. The colloquium focused on what promotes and hinders wellbeing, mainly trying to keep a positive outlook. In her final statement, the President of the Republic of Malta, H. E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, referred to the importance of education and opportunities and of how we need to stop speaking of men and women, and speak more of gender concerns.
Picture: Participants at the President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society Celebration
From the knowledge shared and that gained during these events, one can conclude that it is important that girls and women know their rights, their right to make their own choices. Education is considered the key contributor to empowering women; hence it is vital for education and structure to advance in parallel with each other, because one without the other will still result in more barriers. It is important to challenge beliefs and customs which have hindered fulfilment of women and discouraged many from taking up roles which they desire and from becoming independent.
Finally, for all this to emerge, change in government policy is needed. This cannot be done without networking and support of one woman to another, one organisation with another. Also, encouraging more women to stand up and take decision-making roles and participate in the public political sphere is fundamental. Gender equality does not only benefit women, but it also benefits men, children, families, economies and states.