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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.

ORGANISATIONAL BENEFITS OF WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT
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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