Malta has appointed a long-standing diplomat to serve as its "ambassador for women" as it prepares to implement a United Nations gender equality pledge. 

Ambassador Cecilia Attard Pirotta, whose diplomatic career stretches almost four decades, will steer oversight of a national action plan concerning UN resolution 1325, which was first launched 20 years ago. 

The resolution seeks to promote gender equality, prevent all forms of violence and increase the representation of women.

Foreign Affairs minister Evarist Bartolo stressed Malta’s commitment to achieving the aims set by the UN resolution, explaining that the action plan comes with a five-year target to implement changes.

Ambassador Pirotta emphasised how “any crisis impacts boys and men, girls and women differently, and that the gender lens is key to fully understanding any given situation.”

Both the ambassador and the minister emphasised how the COVID-19 crisis has added further stress to structural gender inequalities, and how this national action plan is needed now more than ever.

The national action plan is based on four key pillars:

  1. Promoting the WPS (women, peace and security) agenda domestically and abroad. 

    This is to be achieved through the organisation of training workshops and seminars, establishing a media presence, conduction of research on the impact of conflict and the roles of women in peace and security and advocacy work that focuses on international implementation.

  2. Preventing all forms of violence, including gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).

    Prevention is to be based on organising educational events about GBV and SEA, providing treatment and counselling to victims of violence, enhanced training for immigration police and initial reception centre officers and a continuous awareness campaign aimed at the general public.

  3. Increase participation and representation of women at all decision-making levels, including conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

    Measures include ensuring gender balance when selecting candidates for scholarships offered through Malta’s Official Development and Humanitarian Aid programme and increasing the uptake of female recruits within the armed forces.

  4. Increase and strengthen partnerships to accomplish the WPS agenda domestically.

    The aim is to identify and establish partnerships with potential and multilateral agencies to support the implementation of the WPS agenda.

An oversight committee which will include representatives from government ministries, academia, civil society and other experts will supervise the implementation of the national plan, Pirotta said.

What is UN resolution 1325?

UN resolution 1325, as it is known in its shorthand form, was established 20 years ago. Its stated goal is to urge signatories to “increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts.”

Additionally, it calls for special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.

The foreign affairs minister pointed out that there are now 86 UN member states which have adopted a national action plan based on this resolution.

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