The Malta Independent 17 October 2017, Tuesday

President calls on global community to take urgent action on gender equality

Thursday, 15 June 2017, 15:02 Last update: about 4 months ago

The President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, has called on the international community to take urgent action "to accelerate gender equality and equitable participation in the economy."

"Gender inequality is not only a pressing issue of moral significance. It is a challenge of critical importance to our economies," the Maltese President said as she was addressing the delegates at the International Labour Conference's (ILC) World of Work Summit in Geneva. The President's remarks followed a High-Level Panel discussion on how to shape a better future for women at work.

"Even after decades of progress to ensure the equal representation of women alongside men in social, economic, and political spheres, the gap between men and women remains unacceptably wide," Coleiro Preca said. "The global economy will continue to suffer greatly, if women continue to be excluded."

An International Labour Organization (ILO) report published yesterday highlights the importance of advancing women's equality. In 2014, G20 leaders made a commitment to reduce the gap in participation rates between men and women by 25 per cent by the year 2025.

The President emphasized the important role that business communities worldwide have to play in helping to close gender gaps.

"I urge the private sector to focus on the substantial economic opportunities, which we all stand to gain from, by achieving gender parity. Moreover, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that gender disparities in the world of work are simply a problem for developing nations. The gender pay gap in developed countries is also a cause of great concern," she said.

"I believe, at this critical time in the history of our world, we must work together to create a legacy of social, political, and economic empowerment for women. In order to achieve this goal, we must promote policies that highlight a healthy work-life balance as part-and-parcel of decent and dignified work conditions for women."

The president cited Malta as an example of how legislation, structures and policies target the needs of women. The country gives working women free access to child care centers. Last year's Eurostat figures showed that Malta experienced the largest employment increase of any other EU member state, which has had direct benefits for women of working age, she said. 

In this context, Coleiro Preca noted that it was important to also "focus our attention on those women who face multiple levels of exclusion from dignified work. In particular, we must stand by the women and girls who have been caught up in migration."

"The time for action is now. Let us work together to make a difference for all women and girls, everywhere," Coleiro Preca concluded.  

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