Women will be encouraged to take up leading roles if they see other women in decision-making positions, according to Ambassador Cecilia Attard Pirotta.

Attard Pirotta has been appointed Malta’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security as the country prepares to implement a UN gender equality pledge, overseeing a national action plan concerning UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

This declaration seeks to promote gender equality, prevent all forms of violence, increase the representation of women and reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

She believes access and visibility are key to empowering and encouraging women to assume leadership roles in any decision-making circle. 

“I strongly subscribe to the belief that women who are in leadership roles – visible role models – can carve the way for other women to assume leadership roles,” she said. 

“In this sense, mentoring, practical engagement, as well as opportunities to shadow other practitioners would provide women with an opportunity to learn the culture of practice, giving them confidence, legitimacy and an understanding of how particular spaces operate.”

However, women should not be merely elevated to roles where they represent women.

Rather, the roles should provide them with a platform where they can visibly share their skills and thematic expertise.  

Malta needs to work hard on securing increased female representation in parliament

More female MPs

The country, she added, needed to work hard on securing increased female representation in parliament. 

“More women complete tertiary education, men have no issue with appointing women to leadership or meaningful posts and the two major parties introduced mechanisms to ensure female presences within the party structures,” she said.

“But for some reason, all this is not being translated into meaningful and adequate representation in parliament. We need to look at why this is happening.

“I don’t believe it’s only due to parliament’s timetable or meeting hours.”

Attard Pirotta believes the quota system is “a very blunt instrument” and she is not “at all keen” on it. Still, regardless of the mechanism, once adequate representation is achieved in parliament, there should be an exit strategy that ensures we do not revert to the current situation, she noted.

Attard Pirotta will be chairing a committee that will implement the national action plan on women, peace and security, as guided by UN resolution 1325.

Since Malta adopted this resolution 20 years ago, the meaning of peace and security has changed from applying only to communities’ fear from armed conflict and fear of violence, to representing everyone’s human rights and providing an acceptable quality of life. 

In essence, this means allowing a person to participate in discussions that are made on their behalf and not only linked to ensuring people’s survival, but also securing their well-being in their communities, Attard Pirotta said. 

“Malta is a changing society and nowadays hosts women who have experienced conflict themselves,” she added.

The particular needs of these women need to be taken into consideration in the services provided by the government, so as to support their relief and recovery from trauma and conflict, she said.

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