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The Hague Conference on Private International Law The Parentage/Surrogacy Project
The Hague Conference on Private International Law The « Parentage / Surrogacy Project » Intervention of a Grouping of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations In March 2015, we sent to the permanent Bureau a contribution showing that surrogacy is contrary to international human rights law and proposing the creation within the UN of a Convention on the International Abolition of Surrogacy. We also requested to be consulted as part of the current work of the HCCH, in order to represent the views of civil society. Since our contribution has not been taken into account so far, we ask once again for our arguments to be considered by the Experts’ Group on Parentage / Surrogacy. We ask for a radical change of perspective in the way the issue of surrogate motherhood is dealt with.
Trafficking of women for sexual exploitation….the fight goes on!
The National Council of Women strongly supports and looks forward to the proposed steps to be taken by the Office of the Attorney General and the Malta Police Force to review and propose reforms on current procedures concerning the identification of victims of human trafficking, before the initiation of prosecution proceedings.
No to the legalisation of prostitution!
The National Council of Women is very concerned with the proposal that once again is being put forward to debate legalising prostitution and it reiterates its position that such a law would be a confirmation that women are considered a commodity and that women's sexual favours are there for the taking as long as one pays!
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,
Vera Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality has taken the initiative to dedicate 2017 to combating violence against women. But it requires the dedication of all of us: Member State national and local authorities, International Organisations, civil society organisations, academia, businesses, trade unions, police, health professionals, social care professionals and all European men and women to fight to make violence against women a thing of the past. More than an awareness-raising campaign, this initiative will support and engage all stakeholders in combatting this problem. Commissioner Jourová invites all to join these focused actions to combat violence against women, as it will be a concerted effort.
No to the legalisation of prostitution!
The National Council of Women is very concerned with the proposal that once again is being put forward to legalise prostitution.(Times of Malta 6.4.2016).Such a law would be a confirmation that women are a commodity and that women's sexual favours are there for the taking as long as one pays! This worst form of degradation of women is totally unacceptable.
The Right to Life of the Human Embryo - not a Commodity
Three years ago the Embryo Protection Act was enacted. As the name implies this law was specifically drawn to safeguard the rights of a new human being at its most vulnerable stage. Bringing a child into the world is not a right, either to a male or female who wish to become a parent, because in so doing they might be ignoring the rights of the third person in this equation- the child.
WOMEN: Maternity leave - MEPs call for progress
Brussels, 07/05/2015 (Agence Europe) - The committee on women's rights and gender equality has urged the Council of Ministers to resume negotiations on maternity leave.
WOMEN: Jourova determined to adopt maternity leave directive
Brussels, 05/03/2015 (Agence Europe) - On Thursday 5 March, the European Commissioner for Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, stated: “Europe is a good address for women, but there are still gaps in gender equality, which means lots of work for us”. The Commissioner made her comments at a press conference organised at the European Parliament on the most recent annual Commission report on inequality between men and women.
WOMEN: Parliament and Commission urge Council to agree on quota project
Brussels, 14/01/2015 (Agence Europe) - The Commission and European Parliament are urging the Latvian presidency of the Council of the EU to ensure that a consensus is obtained from member states on the European quota project. This project seeks to ensure that the boards of directors in major European companies quoted on the stock exchange have at least 40% of their members who are women.
Scheme for business start-ups by mothers with young children wins top prize at EEPA 2014
Scheme for business start-ups by mothers with young children wins top prize at EEPA 2014 The seven winners of the 8th edition of European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced today. The Grand Jury Prize winner came from Hungary. The project, Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children, helps mothers to acquire the entrepreneurial skills and mind-set needed to start a business and run it successfully.
(AE) WOMEN: Jourova and Thyssen should put maternity leave on agenda
Umea, 25/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - The draft directive on maternity leave, which the European Commission is threatening to withdraw, is expected to be a priority for future Commissioners Vera Jourova and Marianne Thyssen - in charge of equal opportunities and employment respectively.
(AE) WOMEN: Women up by 1% on boards of directors
Stockholm, 25/09/2013 (Agence Europe) - The average share of women on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU rose to 18.6% in April 2014 from 17.8% in October 2013. These new statistics were released on Wednesday 24 September by the European Commission.
Peace Statement
In 2014, it is poignant that we commemorate the start of the first World War in 1914, with all its suffering and horrors. Yet, a century on, we still have so many current conflict zones around the globe, which are no less horrific.
Council of Europe on Domestic Violence
Brussels, 29/07/2014 (Agence Europe) - On Monday 28 July, Anne Brasseur, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stated: “On 1 August 2014, a new stage in the protection of human rights will begin in Europe: the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence will enter into force in 11 Council of Europe member states”. In France and Sweden, this convention will be in force from 1 November 2014.
COMMISSION: One female and twelve male commissioners so far
Brussels, 28/07/2014 (Agence Europe) - With only 13 commissioners officially designated, Jean-Claude Juncker's future team is taking shape very slowly and is facing a number of obstacles, relating both to issues of gender and to those nominated
Female EU Commissioners call for more women in Juncker's new team
Barroso II female commissioners sign letter supporting call for at least 10 women to be nominated by member states.
Europolitics' staff contributed to this article on women EU Commissioners
Jean-Claude Juncker is losing patience. The political groups in the European Parliament are becoming threatening. All eyes are on the capitals, with one question: where are the women politicians who could be named European commissioners? Not all the member states - far from it -, which have sole responsibility for these decisions, seem resolved to play the hand of gender parity.
EMISCO Press Release on Gaza Situation
Normally, EMISCO-European Initiative for social cohesion does not take sides in territorial conflicts, condemn or support any given country nor do we issue statements of intent in political disputes outside Europe. We work for the socio-economic, cultural and religions rights of the Muslim communities as well as the betterment of relations among various ethnic and religious groups who live in Europe. But when a far away conflict in the Middle East reaches European shores and causes disharmony, violence – verbal and physical – and disturbs peaceful living, we cannot stay silent. EMISCO is very worried that the increased violence, indiscriminate
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Reminder of EU action against this scourge
Brussels, 16/06/2014 (Agence Europe) - During a summit on sexual violence in conflict areas, which took place in London, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton recalled, on Thursday 12 June, the EU's action against this.
Summer English Language Courses for the Family
English Language Courses start on Tuesday 1st July 2014 till Tuesday 16th September. Children who have reached the 4th, 5th and 6th year of primary and 1st and 2nd of secondary may accompany the adults. The course is free of charge with a donation of €2 per adult for photocopies, tea,coffee and biscuits. For further information and booking contacted NCW office on 21248881/21246982
Gender equality: EU action triggers steady progress
In 2013 the European Commission continued taking action to improve equality between women and men, including steps to close the gender gaps in employment, pay and pensions discrepancies, to combat violence and to promote equality in decision-making.
Violence against Women: every day and everywhere
A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights(FRA) presents results from the world's biggest-ever survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and online.
Yes to 40% quota of women on boards of directors
Strasbourg, 20/11/2013 (Agence Europe) - The European Parliament has given a boost to meritocracy in businesses with its approval, by very large majority (459 votes to 148, with 81 abstentions) of the introduction of a quota of 40% of women on the boards of directors of large European companies quoted on the stock exchange, of which there are around 5,000, in 2020.
MEDITERRANEAN: Activists call on EU for a different political message
Brussels, 19/09/2013 (Agence Europe) - Sounding the alert on worsening conditions for women in the southern countries of the Mediterranean, women's rights activists called on the European Union, on 18 September, to change its message to these countries.
UFM: Conference on women's rights and against sexual violence
Brussels, 13/09/2013 (Agence Europe) - Over 20 ministers from the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and various women's representatives, met in Paris on 12 September for a conference on strengthening the role of women in Euro-Mediterranean society. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton also attended.
EP stresses need for response to salary gap
Brussels, 13/09/2013 (Agence Europe) -MEPs are urging the member states to do all in their power to reduce the salary gap between men and women, which is still around 16% on average in Europe. On Thursday 12 September, they adopted a resolution to this effect drafted by MEP Edit Bauer (EPP Slovakia). The salary gap also has long-term negative fallout for women on the employment market, their pension levels and exposure to poverty.
Stop trivialising violence against women
Stop trivialising violence against women The National Council of Women, once again raises serious concerns on the case of violent sexual assault carried out on Ms Shanti Shresta Achami, (Sunday Times 9thJune). The Council has for many years been publicly questioning Court sentences that unfortunately are not perceived as reflecting the seriousness of the crime of sexual assault or other cases of violence against women.
Women on Boards: Vice-President Viviane Reding and Markus Klimmer, Managing Director at Accenture di
Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, met with Markus Klimmer, Managing Director at Accenture, today to discuss how best to improve gender balance on company boards.
NCW congratulates Maltese Women MEPs
The National Council of Women welcomes the news that three women have been elected as MEPs, giving women a 50% presence amongst the six Maltese MEPs.
WOMEN: 59 days in 2013 before equal remuneration in Europe
Dublin, 01/03/2013 (Agence Europe) - It is only from 28 February this year that women in Europe started to earn the same salary as men. An additional 59 days are therefore needed for women to reduce the pay gap - which this year still stands at 16.2% according to figures published by the European Commission.
(AE) WOMEN: Consultation and future action on genital mutilation
Brussels, 13/02/2013 (Agence Europe) -European Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding is preparing to launch a public consultation and concrete initiatives to tackle female genital mutilation in March. During the period of the consultation, a conference, organised with other Commissioners, on the fight against violence against women will be held.
AE) WOMEN: Already more women on company boards after quota proposal
Brussels, 25/01/2013 (AgenceEurope) - The European Commission believes that its controversial proposal on a quota of women on company boards could be bearing fruit. It notes that in less than a year, twice as many women are now on company boards in Europe, with a significant increase in the large majority of member states. Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding seized the moment to present these encouraging results to the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday 25 January.
WOMEN: 50/50 declaration for parity in institutions after 2014
Brussels, 22/11/2012 (Agence Europe) - MEPs are now ready to do battle to defend equality in the European institutions after the 2014 elections. A “multi-party” declaration was presented on Wednesday 22 November at the European Parliament during the plenary session.
(AE) WOMEN: Parliamentary pressure to counter domestic violence
Brussels, 19/11/2012 (Agence Europe) - Five MEPs are putting pressure on the EU to ratify the international convention to prevent and combat violence against women. Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL, Sweden), Barbara Matera (EPP, Italy), Antonya Parvanova (ALDE, Bulgaria), Raül Romeva (Greens/EFA, Spain) and Britta Thomsen (S&D, Denmark) are urging their colleagues to sign a written declaration in this connection. The declaration calls on the EU to ratify the Council of Europe convention on tackling domestic violence and violence against women. It also urges member states to subsequently take action against this phenomenon.
(AE) WOMEN: Nicosia progresses pay gap debate
Brussels, 31/10/2012 (Agence Europe) - The Cypriot Presidency is pushing the pay gap debate forwards - the difference in pay between men and women still being on average 16% in Europe. At a conference organised in Cyprus on this topic on 29-30 October, the Presidency concluded that the reduction of this pay gap comes through “promoting social dialogue and tripartite cooperation as a way of tackling this problem”.
(AE) WOMEN: Reding is snubbed - quotas deferred until mid-November Brussels, 23/10/2012 (Agence Euro
The quota of 40% women on bluechip company boards has been postponed, but Viviane Reding is determined not to give up her highly controversial proposal for a directive. She promises that the dossier will be back on the Commission agenda by the end of November, when it will be stronger and more open to subsidiarity. Reding, who is optimistic, said that after a century-long battle her proposal could wait another couple of weeks
(AE) WOMEN: Moment of truth for Reding and corporate quotas
Brussels, 22/10/2012 (Agence Europe) - The College of Commissioners may sweep away with one hand the proposal to bring in a 40% quota for women on management boards in European companies quoted on the stock exchange, a proposal that Commissioner Viviane Reding plans to submit on Tuesday.
Women - Reding bases argument on subsidiarity quotas
Brussels, 05/10/2012 (Agence Europe) - Viviane Reding, the commissioner responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, has already been able to get into her stride with regard to feminine quotas in large companies - ahead of time and on converted ground.
The EWL has written to the European Commission and Member States
The EWL has written to the European Commission and Member States in response to a letter signed by 9 countries against a proposed EU Directive to increase the number of women on boards across Europe. Although well below our expectations, the EWL is giving its full backing to Commissioner Reding’s proposal, and calling on all parties to do the same.
(AE) WOMEN: ECB, letter from Goulard to Juncker on parity
Brussels, 18/09/2012 (Agence Europe) - French liberal MEP, Sylvie Goulard, has directly addressed the president of Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, to again draw attention to the question of respecting equal opportunities for women when appointing the sixth member of the European Central Bank board of governors. The economic and financial committee, of which Goulard is a member, effectively suspended the hearing of Yves Mersch for a post on the board of governors, due to the lack of gender balance on the board.
(AE) WOMEN: Greens favour quotas and hit back at nine blocking states
Brussels, 20/09/2012 (Agence Europe) - The Greens are hitting back at the intention of nine member states not to support Viviane Reding's awaited proposal on setting a quota of 40% women on the boards of bluechip companies.
Women on Boards: Viviane Reding meets with leaders of Europe's business schools and industry
On the 19 June, 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.
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: Campaign to get more women into scientific careers
Brussels, 22/06/2012 (Agence Europe) - Science is also a “girl thing”. That is the message the Commission intends to drive home throughout the EU over the next three years to get more girls interested in science and encourage more women to choose research as a career.
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.

Mary Gaerty

      Good Morning. Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen.

How can we make it easier to have more women on board? What benefits are gained by   organisations and companies  when women join a board? Mariella spoke about family friendly measures  already in place and those that might come in place in the future  to help women enter and stay in the labour market, gain the necessary experience  and eventually achieve these goals - these seats. But is it really a question of family friendly measures only?

 When we speak about family friendly measures we always seem to imply that these are for women only,  not for men,  men are generally encouraged to move forward in a career, but are women also given this encouragement and this opportunity.  Family friendly measures must include  also the support of the  partners or husband . Men must also realise that sometimes  there must be or should be a supporting man,  beside a successful woman.   Many of the career women I met are either single or have a supportive husband or partner, therefore it is also a man’s role to support a woman,  who they believe  has the capabilities to reach higher positions in her career.

Statistics show that women favour a professional career, and we find a number of lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc, however statistics also show that it is only  a small percentage of these women that  ever reach managerial positions, let alone a seat on the board of directors.  So what is wrong?   What do we really need?  We need a  culture change, a change that starts from an age as young as three ,four, five , when we start reading  fairytale stories to our young children.   We read  fairytales  like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk and so on, little thinking that  at that tender age children are influenced by what they hear and see and they start imagining themselves as being the protagonist of  the story, of being the princess or the hero Jack.

These stories are real stories to our children, they cannot distinguish between stories and realities so, what are we telling our girls?  We are telling them that they are helpless and need someone to save them and who is that, It’s a man, a knight in shining armour. The women in these stories are helpless  and need a man to save them, as all they can do is wait and perhaps pray !.  No wonder  girls, need empowerment when they start growing up, and at times even at a later stage in womanhood,  we have told them that they need someone else to set their future, they are incapable of deciding and auctioning their own lives. 

But finally fairytales are changing and stories and movies such as Brave are slowly replacing the traditional fairytales . At last we can see a change starting to happen. Many of you with young children might have seen the movie and saw the    flaming haired young woman in Brave, is  princess Merida ,  the young woman  who was encouraged by her father to learn how to fight, but this against her mother’s wish. Merida exemplifies strength in women because she is brave and independent. She isn’t the typical Disney princess or damsel-in-distress as portrayed by many female characters throughout children’s films.   She is  proactive, and she believed in her abilities and in herself.  That is how we need our girls to grow up, believing in their capabilities and in their strength, but the system must cater for this too.

 I am not saying that women should  lose their femininity, on the contrary they must develop the  female intuition, female judgement, female perceptions, female way of  thinking,  their multi tasking  and the capability of  acting in time and at the right time. These are all traits that many women are blessed with, because they have developed them, because someone believed in them and these skills could be  an immense contribution to a  board, where decisions are thought out, discussed and actioned. Women have the capability to think, think well and decide in time and at the right speed. 

Females today are choosing to be educated and the presence of 60% females at university speaks for itself. Education gives a person the background of thought, problem solving and most importantly , discipline. It also however gives the student connections with other students, who later on in life may become useful contacts. Men hang on to these contacts and they are valued and rightly so, women though tend to lose them as they start work and start a family. Time seems to have disappeared! 

Is however education enough to make a person a valid one on a board, because at the end  is it  the main reason why a  person and not another is chosen  to be a member of a board ?  What qualifications must  an individual have  in order to be recommended as a board member? Word of mouth , is said to be the most practised , in choosing a board member .  If we analyse the situation we find that women are educated , they are qualified, some have connections, some also have vast experiences on small boards, but perhaps  they do not present themselves when the occasion arises, or is it just that they are women.  .  Let us take a Maltese family business of some years ago or perhaps even now. Who ran the family business- the father  and who was chosen as successor, the son or sons – and the girls- they have no brains, they can be the secretaries, the assistants, but not the decision makers , not even within the family business!.  But some of these girls developed business acumen and managed to start their own successful  business, being board members and taking decisions.  It is time that these valid women are known, so that they can be presented as role models for other women. 

When some years ago European  companies were asked to voluntarily place more women on boards, the reply was that  there were no women suitable or  available to be board members.  Seeing this requirement as an opportunity, business schools compiled a directory with an impressive list of females with outstanding capabilities who can and are willing to be board members.  It seems to have been a success and today companies seek women as prospective  board members from reliable sources and  also through this initiative ,  the number of female board members has increased in some companies.  We should emulate this , and create such a directory locally. I am certain that the numbers will be there.

The European Commission’s database on women and men in decision making  as at October 2012, reveals that  in publicly listed companies in Malta which amount to 10, were 6.8% of executive directors  in Malta, as against the EU average of 10.2%  wheras that of female  non executive directors  was 3.5% as against the EU average of 16.8%  A board member sitting on more than one decision making body, is counted only once. Looking at this picture the present seems very bleak indeed , but in reality must we put so much effort to have the required gender balance in these 10 companies only? We understand that these are the publicly listed companies, but should we restrict the effort to just 10 companies? 
It is time that boards, whether these are SMEs,  governmental or political, come forward and recount their experiences with the different structures of board members, or at least those they have experienced till now, to tell us  what their future plans are and whether they would be in favour of placing more women on boards, whether having more women on the board has been beneficial, what difficulties, if any,   in finding women to sit on boards, whether they had made any changed about the meeting times, and so on.   I am certain that there will be both positive and negative comments about the different structures  with regards to gender balance or imbalance on their boards.  Someone should start asking  boards of different dimensions and structures, what they seek in a person as a board member, this  knowledge  will assist in creating a database of women  and their field of expertise and experience. This directory will be a showcase and a necessary tool when choosing women for boards.

Taking a voluntary decision to increase the number of females on a board, will eliminate the requirement of mandatory measures and impositions. With some homework done by the boards themselves , they should arrive at the conclusion  that having female participation on the board will introduce fresh ideas  and indeed  a great decision which makes business sense.  An imposition, especially one that enforces a board to have more or add female members, would definitely be attacked, but this should not be seen as such, but as a way forward, embracing  a different board model. In this financial crisis both men and women must contribute to the advancement of the business sector, better governance and politics that include the female perspective and input.  The gender of an applicant cannot be the central criterion for filling a management position. Instead of a national law, companies need to define their own goals and strategies to raise the proportion of women managers.

Research has shown us that 80% of consumers are women and we are not talking only about  low cost items , approximately half the population is female , 60% of the university population is female , approximately 45% of workers are women, so why is this  not reflected also on boards. As can be seen,  women form an important part of the community, society, the economy  and education, they are capable and also willing to contribute at decision making positions, they just need a chance to prove  their abilities.  Why must we meet here today to discuss  how more women can be on boards. It should not be an issue , because like men,  women are persons and workers, like men women have brains, like men, women can contribute and women will take things more seriously, work harder and make more sacrifices just because they want to prove that they are worthy of the position they have been entrusted with. The introduction of family friendly measures and more childcare centres that operate and are available throughout the year, in order to assist employees achieve a work-life balance and support career development are  beneficial, but so would board meetings being held at decent hours.  

You will agree with me that investment in women is equal to poverty reduction in all spheres of life. When women thrive, the society benefits and succeeding generations are given a better start in life as Kofi Annan once said

 Sheryl Sandberg, COO  ( chief Operating Officer of Facebook and  was elected by the existing board of directors to be the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board),  gives three tips of how men and women can work together for gender equality at the workplace. First point- we need to reframe the way we think. There isn't a single country in the world that doesn't have 95 % of its companies run by men…that needs to change," she said. Individuals can make an impact, by changing the companies and institutions they work for, through believing in themselves and reaching for any ambition. It's about each one of us, asking what we would do if we weren't afraid, and reaching for those ambitions, whatever they are, and this needs to start early. "When little girls lead, they're called bossy. Over time, children internalize these messages, How many of you were called bossy when you were young ? Generally boys are not told they are bossy. So next time you want to call your daughter bossy, take a deep breath and say, 'My daughter has executive leadership skills.

The second tip she gives is that of support. Women need to support each other. This cannot be stressed enough, women need to be supported by other women.  NCW has stressed this point also during the last general elections. Men network and support each other and  women support  men who they believe will justify  his place in a particular seat, so what is the difference if the person is a woman .
The last tip she gives is that of visibility. If it is your right to be present at a discussion, be there and do not be apologetically about it. Women tend to take a back seat, lets start moving to the front seats, because if we continue sitting there, there is no way that even in twenty years time will we be forming part of the decision making body. Women should not be token members,  as this solution is not beneficial either to the board or to women themselves.
In conclusion I will say that it is  companies themselves that should mentor women, so that there will always be availability of ‘board ready’ women. It is not enough that the posts on board are filled with the sufficient number, but we must ensure that the number of women who will succeed the ones on board, will also be available. Action is what is required. That businesses benefit  through having  women on board and in management and leadership roles has been proven and debated, but it must now be believed and acted upon. This will require a significant shift in corporate culture and in the attitudes and behaviours of many who occupy positions of power. Change is occurring, but it is slow and the many talented, qualified and experienced women seeking to serve on boards are getting tired.

Thank you

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