ICW-CIF Executive Committee Meeting: Regional Councils Meeting in Malta.
Caring for Women is Caring for the World 27th April – 4th May
Highlights of Visit
After a tour of Valetta on Sunday afternoon we were invited to a concert celebrating women composers – In her own Voice. The chamber musicians were led by their flautist, who gave fascinating nuggets of information about each composer – an inspiring, very enjoyable evening.
The Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, was very affable when he came to address us on Monday, and committed to gender equality: ‘after all’, he said, ‘we must ask ourselves what kind of society do I want to hand over to future generations – in my case, to my two daughters?’… ’-it is a society based on full and unconditional respect afforded to every single person’ His government had finally allowed co-education at secondary level, and free child care was offered from April this year to encourage women back into the labour market. (Malta has the lowest rate of returning women in the workforce in the EU).
Monday evening saw the launch of A Pictorial Diary Of Women in Maltese Society – which gave a fascinating glimpse of how Maltese women fared during the war and their achievements in the following years. During the launch the National Council of Women of Malta cut a Birthday cake, celebrating their 50th Anniversary since their launch in 1964. It looked & tasted very good!
H.E. Marie-Louise Coleira Preca, had only been in her new position as President of Malta for two weeks, when we went to meet her on Tuesday afternoon. After a tour of the Palace on the outskirts of Valetta we had tea and talked with her on the veranda. She was forthright and again very committed to encouraging gender equality. Following this visit we had a Maltese Night at the hotel with typical local dishes. We were entertained with great musicality and good humour by a Maltese guitarist and banjo player – much laughter, singing and dancing by everyone!
The next day’s seminar session was very stimulating, with several government ministers and EU committee members giving evidence of problems faced not only by Maltese and European women. The closing address was given by the Foreign Minister, Dr George Vella. When our ICW member from Ukraine went to stand beside her two ICW colleagues from Russia and declared they were friends but ‘it is the men who are causing the problems Ukraine is facing at present’ he had the grace to smile and declared his support for top level diplomacy to help resolve the conflict.
We were let out on Thursday! A tour of Malta proved fascinating with visits to an ancient archaeological site, older than the Pyramids, and onto beautiful medieval Mdina. The Gala Dinner at night was suitably impressive, with many Maltese NCW members and their husbands attending. It also proved to be the arrival of the Queen Mother of the Chief of the Ashanti Kingdom, plus two of the Chief’s wives. (The king had only received his visa on Monday and had been unable to come himself)
The Regional Councils which make up ICW had their respective meetings on Friday, where we learned of each other’s work during the previous year. Ideas began fermenting in the minds of the two UK delegates – watch this space!
The week ended with an enjoyable trip to Gozo on Saturday, and NCW Malta is to be congratulated on providing such an enjoyable and stimulating week. Over 35 countries were represented over the six days. Meeting old and new colleagues from around the world, and sharing ideas and experiences, was perhaps the most valuable aspect of the visit.
Elsie Leadley Sheila Petersen
President NCWGB Vice-President NCWGB