Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is the ninth President of the Republic of Malta.
Her nomination as President was, for the first time in the history of the Maltese National Parliament, approved unanimously by a parliamentary resolution of the House of Representatives taken on 1st April 2014, marking a development in the constitutional history of Malta. She took the oath of President of Malta on 4th April 2014.
At the age of 55 years, Coleiro Preca is the youngest President of the country, and is the second woman occupying the office of Head of State after 32 years.
Soon after taking office, President Coleiro Preca established a number of entities to nurture dialogue and to foster unity and a culture of positive peace among people.
The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society
The Foundation was founded on 25th June 2014. The Foundation, is a first of its kind in Malta. It aims to create a safe space for dialogue on social wellbeing, bridging popular wisdom with academic research. Through this process, the Foundation works towards enhancing human relationships. The Foundation operated through a consultation process, through a number of established, including; Children, Family, Community, Transculturalism, Interfaith, Persons with Disability, and conducts scientific research through the following Research Entities:
- National Institute for Childhood
- National Centre for Family Research
- National Observatory for Living with Dignity,
- National Centre for Freedom from Addictions
- National Hub for Ethnobotanical Research.
The Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation
President Coleiro Preca was catalyst, to transform the National Charity into the Malta Community Chest Fund as a Foundation, with the aim of providing financial, material and professional support to individuals, families, communities, and voluntary organisations. This Foundation aims at improving the quality of life for individuals, without any form of discrimination on the basis of social class, gender identity, ethnicity, age, ability, health status or religion.
The President’s Trust
President Coleiro Preca founded the President’s Trust on 14th May 2015. The aim of the President’s Trust is to encourage vulnerable young people, experiencing difficulties in life, such as unemployment, being at risk of poverty, or social exclusion, to improve their lives through education and training.
The CORE Platform
President Coleiro Preca set up the CORE Platform on the 10th September 2015. The Corporate Citizenship for Responsible Enterprises (CORE) aims to promote, to debate, to raise awareness and to disseminate, the concepts of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Social Responsibility. The CORE Platform is an opportunity to exchange and for mutual learning among the members, its associates, civil society and other partners at national and international levels.
On the 30th September 2015, President Coleiro Preca set up Noffri.com, an initiative that encourages volunteering with the aim to support and enable non-governmental organisations in their day-to-day operations.
The President’s Secret Garden
The President’s Secret Garden provides a safe, interactive and creative space at The Presidential Private Gardens at Sant’ Anton Palace, giving Maltese children the opportunity to enhance their personality, express their opinions and feel empowered, through informal education. It aims to foster intergenerational dialogue as well as participation, inclusion and involvement of children with activities focusing on the following key areas, including self-expression, healthy eating, education, nurture, diversity, and art.
National Forum of Trade Unions
Launched on the 23rd July 2014, The National Forum of Trade Unions creates opportunities for dialogue among Malta’s Trade Unions. Such dialogue encourages sharing of experiences, aiming to find common solutions to difficulties encountered at the place of work, and to ensure the wellbeing of all employees.
National Cancer Platform Association
Officially launched on the 3rd February 2015, The National Cancer Platform Association brings together all the non-governmental organisations working in the field of cancer, to collaborate together in order to ensure a holistic, co-ordinated and sustainable service for all cancer patients and their families. Each organisation is autonomous. While every organisation keeps its own identity and methodology, the Association provides an opportunity of sharing information and common initiatives. Through the Association, members of organisations become familiar with the work being carried out by other organisations offering similar, or complementary services.
In 2015, President Coleiro Preca was the first Maltese President to join the Arraiolos Group of non-executive Presidents of the European Union. The Presidents meet annually to discuss current state of affairs and the future development of the European Union. Coleiro Preca will be hosting the Arraiolos 2017 in Malta, and invited the Presidents of the states which were not members, to attend.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca dedicated her life to the social wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society, and was influential for effective changes in the social policies of Malta.
On 13 March 2013, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was appointed Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity. During her term as Minister, she initiated a variety of reforms.
These key reforms initiated, during her term of office, included those in the area of social housing, as well as the foundation for an integrated social policy based on a community level approach, with the aim of estabilishing Family Resource Centres, and a number of Social Development Regional Centres.
Another reform brought about the simplification of the social benefits system, which included benefits for retirement age, persons eligible for the marriage grant, persons who are eligible for the widow pensions and those eligible for the children’s allowance. This reform was centred around the need to eliminate applications, and the subsequent bureaucratic processes to make the system more efficienct.
Coleiro Preca initiated the introduction of a single-means testing mechanism, as well as a complete overhaul in the area of welfare and a more effective anti-fraud social benefits system. She set up a Welfare Reform Task Force to update the Welfare system and curb abuse and fraud.
During her term as Minister, Coleiro Preca also started the development of a strategy for the sustainability and adequacy of pensions. She started addressing the anomalies in the pension computation for former shipyard workers and introduced a number of measures, such as the provision of full pension to widows in work, and the provision of a child supplement to address child poverty, motivated by their school attendance, health check-ups and involvement in culture or sports.
As Minister, Coleiro Preca tabled several laws before Parliament, including the Act on the Protection of Children, as part of a Children’s Comprehensive Legislation, and which was developed by using an innovative bottom-up approach methodology. She established the Sexual Assault Response Team, a holistic approach.
In December 2013, together with the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, Coleiro Preca launched the LEAP project. This project, which is funded by the European Social Fund, established the Family Resources Centres to provide services at the heart of communities, with the aim of implementing the new Social Investment Package launched by the European Union.
In January 2014, Coleiro Preca developed and launched, together with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, the Green Paper: Structure for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion. This Green Paper, aimed at targeting over 22,000 children to take them out poverty and social exclusion, as part of the whole strategy on poverty reduction.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was active in politics for forty years, starting at the young age of sixteen years. She served in Parliament for sixteen years.
Within the Labour Party, she served as a member of the National Executive, Assistant General Secretary and General Secretary, occupying the latter post between 1982 and 1991. Coleiro Preca is the first-ever, and only woman who, to date, occupied this important elected position at the highest echelon of a Maltese political party.
Coleiro Preca was also President of the Socialist Women’s Group, member of the National Bureau of Socialist Youths (now the Labour Youth Forum), founder member of Ġuze Ellul Mercer Foundation, as well as editor of the newspaper, il-Ħelsien.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2014. In the General Elections of 2008 and in 2013 she was the first candidate to be elected to the National Parliament, with the highest number of votes, after party leaders.
As a Member of Parliament in Opposition, she served as Shadow Minister for Social Policy, for Tourism, for the National Airline, and for the Health Sector. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs and a member of the Parliamentary Committee for the Family, and a member of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. She also served in the Parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe and on various committees within it.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca graduated as Bachelor in Legal and Humanities and as Notary Public at the University of Malta.
Awards and Appointments
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has been awarded the following:
- Crans Montana Prix de la Fondation 2014, an award given to prominent personalities who strive for peace, freedom and democracy
- Student Wellbeing and Prevention of Violence Award from Flinders University, South Australia
- United Nations’ Agent of Change Award
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has been appointed:
- Honorary Life President of the Arab-European Forum for Dialogue and Development
- Honorary Professorship at the University of Warwick in the UK.
- Head of the Executive Advisory Council of the Flinders University Centre of ‘Student Wellbeing &Prevention of Violence’
- Member of the Patron’s Council of ‘Missing Children Europe’,
- Member of the Council of World Women Leaders;
- Member of the Women Political Leaders Global Forum Advisory Board.
Recent Speeches given at International Level
- Keynote speech at the Conference on Refugees Seeking Asylum: The case of unaccompanied Children and Young Asylum Seekers, organized by the Department of International Relations and the Department of Youth and Community Studies at the University of Malta, 19 May 2014
- Keynote speech at the Conference on Waking Dream Therapy organised by the Malta Depth Psychological Association under the auspices of the SISPI, Italy and the French Embassy in Malta, 23 May 2014
- Keynote speech at the Conference Crossing Borders: Counselling and the Challenges of Migration University of Malta, 16 June 2014
- Address given during the Plenary Session on Peace and Development in the Mediterranean: Improving Cooperation and Building a Better World held in Morocco, 20 June 2014
- Keynote speech at the European Conference on Poverty ‘The Europe 2020 Poverty Target: lessons learned and the way forward’ held in Brussels, 9 October 2014
- Opening Speech of the Public Forum ‘End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ organised by Soroptimist International, Malta, 20th October 2014
- Opening address at the MIM Mediterranean Economic Forum 2014 ‘Recent Trends & Developments in Islamic Finance’, 24 October 2014
- Opening address at the ‘3rd HORATIO European Festival of Psychiatric Nurses’ Malta, 6 November 2014
- Speech during the Mediterranean Tourism Forum entitled “The Great Story”, 21 November 2014
- Keynote Speech during the Youth Forum organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Malta, 13 May 2015
- Closing speech during the Youth Forum organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Malta, 17 May 2015
- Keynote speech given at the Children of Prisoners Europe Conference ‘Supporting Children with Imprisoned Parents and their Families – Rights, Opportunities and Responsibilities’ held in Stockholm, 22 May 2015
- Keynote speech ‘The new challenge of Migration in Europe: its impact on government policies and bilateral relations’ at the Crans Montana Forum high-level Conference on Migration held in Brussels, 11 June 2015
- Address given to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Malta’s Membership of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, 22 June 2015
- Address given during the ‘Media for Inclusion’ as in international youth exchange from Cross Culture International Foundation, Malta, 11 July 2015
- Opening Speeech at the European Architecture Students Assembly, Malta, 31 July 2015
- Address given at the United Nations Summit “Malta Statement on the Sustainable Development Goals 2015” at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, 25 September 2015
- Address given at the United Nations Summit Interactive Dialogue – “Ending Poverty and Hunger” at the United Nations Headquarters New York . 25 September 2015
- Address given on the occasion of the World Leaders Forum, Columbia University, “My Vision for the Future” New York, September 2015
- Address during the Leaders’ Forum of the UNESCO General Conference on the occasion of UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary, in Paris, France, 19 November 2015
- Address during the Inauguration Ceremony of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, during CHOGM 2015, in Malta, 22 November 2015
- Closing Address during the Commonwealth People’s Forum, during CHOGM 2015, in Malta, 25 November 2015
- Speech during the Mediterranean Tourism Forum entitled “Empowering Tomorrow”, 4 December 2015
- Distinguished Lecture “Migration and Peace-building in the Mediterranean”, at the University of Warwick, UK, 2 March 2016
- Speech given on the occasion of the Women of the World Festival, in London, 11 March 2016
- Speech during the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Conference “Reaching the Heights for the Rights of the Child”, organised by the Council of Europe, in Sofia, Bulgaria, 5 April 2016
- Speech given at the International Symposium on “Promoting Values of Peace and Dialogue”, organised by ISESCO in Sousse, Republic of Tunisia, 19 April 2016
- Speech during the Salesians International Congress of Provincials, in Malta, 29 April 2016
- Speech given at the 7th UN Alliance of Civilisations Global Forum, “Living together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and a Goal”, in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, 26 April 2016
- Keynote Speech given at the Women In Parliaments Global Forum entitled “Women in Politics: Fast Forward”, in Amman, Jordan, 5 May 2016
- Speech during the High-Level Global Conference entitled “Fulfilling Children’s Right to a Childhood free from Corporal Punishment: Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects” in Vienna, Austria, 1 June 2016
- Keynote speech given at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, “Enhancing Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and Preventing violence in schools and early childhood settings” Adelaide, Australia in July 2016
- Speech given at South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute, in Australia entitled ‘The Politics of Wellbeing: Enhancing the Wellbeing of a Nation’, in July 2016
- Address given at the High-level discussion at the United Nations Headquarters, New York “Economic Cost of Violence against Women” New York, United States of America, September 2016
- Address given during the UNHCR Global Citizen Award 2016, in London, United Kingdom, 13 November 2016
- Keynote address given at the 107th Session of the the International Organisation on Migration at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, December 2016.
- Speech during the Official Inaugural Concert of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, at the BOZAR Centre of the Arts, Brussels, 16 January 2017.
- Opening Speech during the Missing Children Europe Conference held in Malta ‘Lost in migration; Working together to protect children from disappearance’ Malta, 26 January 2017
- Opening Speech during the European Conference on Inclusive Workplaces, in Malta, 18 February 2017
- Opening SPEECH – COST Action IS-1206 on Femicide across Europe – Final Conference ’ organised by the Department of Gender Studies, Faculty for Scoial Wellbeing within University of Malta, 14 March 2017
- Opening Speech during the Mediterranean Tourism Forum entitled “Hospitality of Tomorrow”, 17 March 2017
- Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) Meeting in Malta on Maternal Health and Refugee Women 20 March 2017
- Speech during MOAS XCHANGE, “A Forum exploring safe and legal alternatives to the Maritime Migration Route” in Malta, 27 March 2017
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is married to Edgar Preca and has a daughter.