Much has been said about the emancipation of women, much has been heard about equality of women and men. However what does this really mean? Are men and women truly equal? Do gender stereotypes still reign amongst us? Are women’s rights being recognised as human rights? The list of questions is endless.
On the day marking Women’s Day, these are but a few questions that deserve to be answered. For a country that is at the forefront of LGBTIQ rights, we are still lagging on the gender equality index. In fact Malta has been given rank 16 out of 28 countries on the gender equality index as measured by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) 2015. And yet one questions how this is possible. We have a system of free childcare & we have introduced maternity leave measures. At a glance, the report indicates that Malta is doing well when it comes to healthcare, there is an increase in female participation at the place of work. So what are women complaining about? Yet looking deeper into report,it is noted that when it comes to work, few are those women that are in full time employment, sitting on boards or in a position of power. More worrying are the statistics of the distribution of women’s time. Women are still high on the index when it comes child rearing and caring and household chores. This clearly shows that apart from having to go to work, the woman still has to go home, take care of the children and take them to their activities and at the same time ensure that food is on the table, clothes are cleaned and floors are washed. So, the question is again asked, are men and women treated equally? The figures clearly show otherwise. Women in Malta to date are still expected to cook, clean and care. Men are still in positions of trust and power.
On the issue of violence, we have proudly signed and ratified the Istanbul Convention that is the first international instrument of its kind that specifically recognises women’s rights as human rights and that any form of violation against a woman is a violation of her human right. Yet, despite this, the latest Eurobarometer 2016 indicates the idea that violence against women is often provoked by the victim or that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape. On the other hand, the Fundamental Rights Agency report 2014 indicates that 1 in 5 women and girls in Malta are sexually harassed by the age 15.
I guess these figures clearly show that we are not quite there yet and much has yet to be done for women in Malta. It is this for this reason that Women’s Rights Foundation is holding a march and celebration this Saturday 11th March at 2.30 pm in front of Valletta opposite Parliament for a march and at 3pm St. Georges Square for a full programme of activities, to celebrate women with all their accomplishments and diversity, so that we can come together and challenge perceptions by showing that women can make it too... See you there.
Happy woman’s day.
Dr. Lara Dimitrijevic
Director, Women’s Rights Foundation