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European Commission
On 2 July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the European Council to the position of President of the European Commission; she will be the first women and the first German since Walter Hallstein
Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
1. Education, training and life-long learning Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market. 2. Gender equality Equality of treatment and opportunities between women and men must be ensured and fostered in all areas, including regarding participation in the labour market, terms and conditions of employment and career progression. Women and men have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
The gender pay gap in the EU and the European Pillar of #SocialRights
1. The gender pay gap in the EU is 16.2%, that’s 16.2% higher than it should be! Gender equality is the second key principle of the European Pillar of #SocialRights for a reason 2. The European Pillar of #SocialRights supports the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment, social protection, education, and access to goods and services available to the public. Something NCW Malta has supported since its creation!
Gender Equality in the Media Sector
This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. It examines key elements of the European policy agenda pertaining to gender equality in the media sector. It also reviews existing research on women's representation within media content and the media workforce. The study provides analysis of actions to promote gender equality in the media at both EU and Member State levels. Finally, it presents case studies of gender equality in the media sector in four Member States: Austria, Malta, Sweden, and the UK.
Empowering women and girls in media and ICT
On the occasion of the International Women's Day, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is holding an inter-parliamentary committee meeting on empowering women and girls in media and ICT. The meeting, which will bring together EU institutional representatives, members of EU national parliaments, experts and stakeholders, will take place on 08 March 2018. The presentation and debates will deal with the topics of women shaping media, empowering women and girls through digital inclusion and women’s movements and advancing equality in the digital age.
Digital healthcare / health insurance
In the view of the EESC, given the digital revolution in the field of health, it is vital to maintain and promote a health insurance system which serves the needs of everyone, and is solidarity-based, inclusive and non-discriminatory. Inclusion and fair access for all to good quality health services (digital or otherwise) and commitment to these are in fact prerequisites for universal health coverage.
Gender equality in European labour markets
In order to improve gender equality in labour markets, the EESC considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to adequate policies, measures and EU funding programmes for improving equality between women and men, thus fostering "more equal economic independence of women and men" . This would also contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Services to the family
Developing services in private homes in order to achieve a better work-life balance Every family has a home and clothes to maintain, meals to prepare, children to care for, elderly parents or ill or disabled family members who need help. Women often have to work part-time in order to carry out these tasks, missing out on the career for which they have trained or on time they would use for training.
Women and girls digital gender gap
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, attempts to reveal the links between the different factors (access, skills, socio-economic and cultural), which prevent women from having equal access to digital technology. It then suggests ways of dealing with online and offline inequalities to the effect of closing the digital gender gap and improving women’s and girls’ digital inclusion and future technology-related career paths.
Plastics, human health and environmental impacts: The road ahead
Plastics have been with us for more than a century, and by now they’re everywhere, for good and for ill. Plastic containers and coatings help keep food fresh, but they can also leave behind neurotoxins such as BPA in the human body. PVC is used for everything from pipes and flooring to furniture and clothes, but it contains compounds called phthalates that have been implicated in male reproductive disorders. Studies have also shown that childhood exposure to environmental pollutants can have significant negative effects later in life, including reduced labor force participation and even earnings.
European Commission aims to significantly reduce the gender pay gap
The European Commission plans to use a series of measures aimed at significantly reducing the pay gap between men and women over the next five years. The average gender pay gap in the EU currently stands at 18%. To lower this rate, the Commission plans to raise awareness among employers, encourage initiatives to promote gender equality and support the development of tools to measure the gender pay gap.
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019 The Annual General Meeting of the National Council of Women was held on Saturday 26th January 2019, at The Victoria Hotel, Sliema. President Mary Gaerty spoke about the work which the Council has embarked on during 2018. This included pensions, education, violence against women, work and entrepreneurship, work life balance and the challenges faced by women on a daily basis. She also highlighted the fact that the National Council of Women is looking ahead at the constant changes
Work-life Balance
Better work-life balance for EU citizens: Presidency reaches provisional agreement with the European Parliament
The National Council of Women supports the Act to provide protection for human embryos
NCW has always advocated for legislation of alternative IVF treatment not least because of the sensitivity and the consequences for both parents and society if it had to remain unregulated. NCW believes that IVF treatment should be for heterosexuals within a stable family environment The Council has always supported the protection of embryos as the first cell of a human life and, with the development of alternative treatment over the past years this has become possible successfully.
Women on Boards: Vice-President Viviane Reding meets with leaders of Europe's business schools and i
Today, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding met with European Industry Associations, European Business Schools and Senior Executive Women to discuss progress being made on improving the gender balance in company boardrooms.
UfM adopts new project to support women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean
A project aimed at developing women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean through the development of effective field projects and the setting up of networks and platforms, was adopted by Senior Officials of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) at a meeting held last month.

Representatives from 28 countries across the world attended the executive committee meeting of ICW held in Barcelona at the end of May. Mrs. Cosima Schenk, president of ICW, opened the meeting by saying that it is a privilege to be in Barcelona, a city which has been so important in Spanish history. Many women here had suffered such repression during the civil war.

Marriage, family and sexuality connect all women across several countries, while inequality of women, on the other hand, brings about violence, trafficking and rejection of women as human beings. ICW offers diversities of cultures, ideas, etc. ECICW, e.g., is active in migration since we have to face difficulties of women migrants coming from North Africa into Europe, women’s rights in politics, etc. Women from the Asia Pacific are more concerned with climate change while in South America, civil wars have long perpetuated violence where women suffer due to this. In Africa, the role of women’s organisations is important because the government is not doing anything at all to implement changes in favour of women. The future belongs to us and it is up to us to instil development and peace for the future.

The president di Dones per la Llibertat I la Democracia welcomed all the participants to Catalunya. The aim of this group is to increase women’s involvement in civil society. It was founded in 1999 and its main objectives are making women aware of their rights, and the elimination of all forms of gender discrimination.

The coordinator for women’s organisations for participation and equality said that networking at an international level has been able to provide a more plural vision with different cultures, ideas, etc. and to provide solutions, alternatives above and beyond our differences and difficulties. In Spain right now, more women are studying at higher educational levels and thanks to quota law, more women are involved in politics but the birth rate has decreased drastically. The current economic crisis has led to the fact that Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates and the equality of women is threatened by this crisis. The ministry of equality has only lasted 2 years because it was one of the first to be downscaled due to the economic crisis. The participation of civil society and NGOs is important so that we can work together and to teach us to unite and join forces so that in difficult times such as these, women can eradicate forms of suffering such as gender inequality and violence.

The representative of women institutions of Catalunya stressed that progress in society depends on the progress of both women and men and so both genders must be empowered equally. Women must help themselves by realising their potential. They must be convinced that what makes us different is what makes us better. There is the need to increase social recognition of women’s groups to be more effective in society to promote women.

The last guest speaker was the representative of women on the local council of Barcelona. Barcelona, she said, is a city that sets a benchmark on the defence of women’s rights especially in the fight against gender violence. Associations and movements must continue to strengthen networks so as to attain more social justice.

The president of ICW then paid tribute to our dear friend Lydie Rossini who died last year. Lydie served on ICW and for more than 30 years, represented ICW at FAO. In Johannesburg she was elected first vice president of ICW which she had long supported both with her dedication and financially. Several messages of condolences sent to both Elena Fadini and Anna Maria Castelfranchi have been passed on to her immediate relatives. She then went on to mention all ICW members who have passed away recently including the most Noble Bice Testaferrata Moroni Viani and Marian Nauta of Netherlands.

Anamah Tan, past president of ICW then addressed the floor. She asked how much do we actually think that we have achieved since the foundation of ICW. A lot and 123 years on, we are still going strong; we have new members and old members who are still active and we must therefore continue with our good work. The theme adopted by ICW in Jakarta for the following 3 years was ‘Progress of women is progress for all and its subtheme ‘Help women help themselves’. Women must not feel that they are helpless victims and that there is nothing they can do about it. The future is ours and it must be made that way if we are to progress.

Bhaswati Sarkar, VP of ICW in charge of affiliations welcomed to new ICW member countries, Bangladesh and Madagascar and said that a third country, Nepal was in the process of joining in the very near future.

A gift shop was set up during the meeting; gifts were donated by delegates from the different countries and funds received by the sale of these objects and also from donations are to be given to help projects such as the Heart Pillow Project which helps women who undergo surgery while another project is intended to help teenage girls who are saved from human trafficking.

A workshop on the ICW Triennial Theme ‘Progress for Women is Progress for all’, a definition of our action and our objectives was also held during the ICW executive meeting. Nadya Anne Mangion from NCW Malta was rapporteur on one of the workshop groups. The main points discussed during this workshop were:

1. Campaigns for growth of women participation in public administration and in career advancement especially in areas which are influential to democratic life

2. Equal access to science and technology

3. The economic crisis and impact on women

4. Working for economic recovery and capacity building

5. Entrepreneurship as a tool for self-help

In her UN Women report, Anamah Tan said that the Global Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign has been advocating for five years for the creation of UN Women.  The United Nations has created a new strong UN agency that will be working on women's rights globally. UN Women consolidated all four UN bodies working on gender equality: OSAGI, UNIFEM, INSTRAW, and DAW. The UN Women Executive Director is Michelle Bachelet who was a former member of the French government. UN Women was launched at the 2011 CSW meeting on a significant day – the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day. Ms Bachelet has promised to listen to women and that there will be 5 pillars on which she will be concentration: poverty reduction, gender equality, aging, violence against women and education. Ban Ki Moon has promised to be a fund raiser for UN Women so that funds do not run dry. We as NCW members must help Ms Bachelet to reach these aims; after all the 5 pillars she mentioned are all areas on which ICW focuses.

Now we must monitor how it implements promises it has made and ensure that civil society participation is formalized and the women's rights groups are consulted about the program and future of UN Women.

The report from the ICW workshop at the CSW55 was presented by Monica Tolmen, Elisabeth Newman, Jung Sook Kim. Taking a world-wide view, the two speakers at the CSW 55 meeting set the scene by first emphasizing the importance of basic education for girls which raised the barriers they face. All NCS were sent a questionnaire which asked what they thought there were barriers to education for women. There were actually very few responses from members NCs. The responses showed that there are extremes in different countries: Italy had pointed out that education had been available to women for decades while in countries like Uganda, girls were not sent for even a basic education either due to unavailability or because the families thought that this was not worthwhile. Cultural barriers, sexual stereotyping and other factors have played an important part in keeping girls from achieving a decent education. We should be aiming at providing capacity building of women to help their communities so families are able to send their daughters to school. The second speaker, in acknowledging the need for basic education, explored the entry of girls into the sciences and technology and the support they require. In the following group discussions participants representing some 20 nationalities, eagerly debated the issues raised including ways to overcome the barriers faced by girls in gaining an education and then taking up a worthwhile career. With the successful workshops on various aspects of girls education held by the National Councils of Women of Korea, United States of America and Canada, helped with the good networking of delegates, the ICW-CIF family made a good impression at CSW55. Our work continues in advocating for girls’ right to education in all fields and to the right of decent employment.

The Agreed Conclusions of CSW55 recognise the barriers faced by women and girls in obtaining a good education and the need to attain gender equality to overcome these barriers. They also recognise the need to support the transition from education to work including support for women to maintain a career in the sciences and technology.

The next ICW general assembly will be held in Seoul, Korea between 17th and 22 September 2012 at the Lotte Hotel.

Doreen Micallef

Vice President

National Council of Women Malta

 
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