Solidarity with the women of Malta

During the COVID 19 pandemic, we had a little bit more time to talk with our dears friends from various corners of the world and see how are they coping with the situation. One of our dear and amazing friends is Francesca Fenech Conti from Malta who, together with her colleagues, runs an informal network Women for Women Malta that gathers more then 34 500 members. The Women’s Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina would like to express its solidarity with women from Malta in all of their efforts to achieve all women’s rights guaranteed by international conventions and declarations. With Francesca we had an opportunity to talk on-line using various communication applications!

Thank you for your interest in our online facebook group Women for Women (Malta). Women for Women is a women online safe space for women from all ages and all walks of life. It’s a space were women can discuss important issues about current affairs, domestic violence, and at this time all the issues surrounding the Corona Virus.

Just before covid-19 forced us all to stay indoors I was in the process of also applying to set up Women for Women officially as a Foundation and an NGO. All our plans had to be put on hold and I was very upset and lost for a couple of weeks because I realised I wouldn’t be able to stick to the plans of launching the NGO, continue with the fundraising initiatives and meet with the women we want to empower.

We had a whole series of meetings and events planned and everything had to be put on the back burner. This was very disappointing, and I was searching for another way of connecting with and lifting spirits of our members (we currently have over 34,000). Live video conferencing has always been something I have wanted to do but I have always been camera shy and not comfortable speaking in public. However, when a few weeks ago a popular local TV personality Stephanie Spiteri asked me whether I was interested in doing a programe live together on the group to connect to our sisters and listen to their issues and create more information around what we were all experiencing due to Covid-19 it was just the push I needed to overcome my fears and anxiety of being in front of the “camera” in this case the webcam of my laptop. Therefore we started to hold a series of discussions every evening at 7pm Mon- Friday. We invite guests to talk about our fears at this time, about the various government initiatives and helplines available, about our sex lives, next week we will be talking with nutritionist, a psychologist and also with lawyers about dealing with domestic violence issues at this time. I also hold other live streaming discussions during the day, in fact today we had an extremely important discussion with Doctors for Choice about abortion since Malta is the only country in Europe with a total ban.

I’m a firm believer of leading by example and of the importance of female role models and the importance of having women’s voices heard. In Malta women in leadership are few and we have one of the lowest rates of women in Parliament. Therefore, I try to show other women that if me a normal person can do it – so can they. We don’t necessarily need to be politicians, academics, news presenters to have a voice and use it. We should all be able to discuss our fears and worries and use our voices without fear of backlash. For those who are afraid, ashamed, shy or do not have the courage to speak out for themselves – I offer to be their voice and to discuss the issues on their behalf by posting their stories for them anonymously. I have been honoured and humbled by the trust held in me by so many women and the stories I have heard make me realise more and more that this is still so much a man’s world where we women need to rally together on still so many issues. We still have so much work to do especially for women living in abusive relationships and single mothers living in poverty – usually these two issues are often related. I sincerely believe that only by empowering women and by sticking together as a community of sisters all believing that we still have so much work to do for women’s equality can we make this a better place for our daughters.  That is what I try to talk about and live by and show in my actions every day on Women for Women that together we can. This is not my group it is our group all of us 34,000.