Delivering the keynote address during a session of the Women Leaders Global Forum entitled ‘Power Together,’ President of Malta and patron of the #Girl2Leader Campaign Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said that women and men should have the same opportunities to share their voices, and to be respected as valued and equal collaborators, to create a world that embraces equality and equity – a world which can enjoy peace and build prosperity.
The President said that in a few days, “we will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” adding that this is a commemoration that provides us with an opportunity to remember, and to remind everybody, that when we work for equality and women’s rights, we are fundamentally working to achieve the full enjoyment of our universal human rights.
The President said that gender equality and equity were the goals that motivated the Office of the President to conduct a national conversation, with hundreds of students in Malta and Gozo, on the International Day of the Girl and tied to the #Girl2Leader campaign.
She stated that she was truly inspired by the narratives which were shared by the students, both girls and boys, “by their correct assessment of the situation, by their resilience in the face of challenges, and by their determination to make a difference.”
For example, one student, Matthew, said that “Unfortunately, in Malta and all over the world, women have to deal with stereotypes and unfair expectations. This situation leads to discrimination. Our society looks at feminism and women’s empowerment as a movement of hatred against men, and this leads to people fearing change.”
Another student, Annemarie, said that “Girls need to fight injustice and be the change, with authentic power. Someday I want to be able to share my opinion in a group of guys and have my opinion received as just another opinion, not prejudiced because I am a girl.”
The President said that the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be an ideal opportunity for the #Girl2Leader campaign to highlight innovative opportunities for the participation of girls, boys, and young women.
She urged the politicians present to join the #Girl2Leader movement, “to make this anniversary another opportunity to nurture the political and social interests of our girls, boys, and young women, by encouraging them to stand up to make a difference.”
The President appealed to all those present, to share this message across their respective countries and regions, but also to endeavour, and to take up the lead, to bring girls and boys together, to empower them in realising, that we need both girls and boys, to achieve peace and prosperity, in our countries, regions, and across the world.
“I am convinced that we can achieve our goals, if we encourage and support our girls, boys, and young women to be advocates and activists for change”
The President said that “if we truly want the much-needed, sustainable transformation of patriarchal culture, to overcome stereotypes and discrimination, then we must work in synergy across the globe, within our nations, and across our regions,” adding that “we need to help this change, to begin from the grass-roots of our societies, as part of a bottom-up approach. Only then will the top-down legislative and policy changes be effective.”
She also mentioned that perceptions also need to be changed, as these are the cultural and social barriers that still impede the progress to achieve equality and equity.
“Furthermore, I am convinced that we need to see more inspiring examples of female leadership, in the media and throughout society. By giving greater visibility to the excellent work we are doing, as women leaders, we will be creating the much-needed role models, to normalise the idea and the presence of women in roles of authority,” President Coleiro Preca added.
Whilst reiterating her appeal to those present, so that they join the #Girl2Leader campaign, the President reminded them that achieving SDG 5, which mandates the international community to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of our girls and women, within our lifetimes, is at the heart of the campaign.
“Let me therefore invite all of you, as women leaders, to further develop the #Girl2Leader campaign for the benefit of our girls and young women all over the world”, President Coleiro Preca concluded.