The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and for women in Malta, this year’s events come at a critical time. The day has historically commemorated women’s struggle for equality and representation from the beginning of the 1900s till today.
“For many women, this is a day to speak out about present inequalities and oppression. In our Western society, it might seem that we have achieved equality and freedom, but we still live in a society were sexism and misogyny are present… in subtle ways, but also in very evident and dramatic ways, as is the case with the violence against women,” says Arianna Zunino.
Arianna is one of the organisers of the events related to Women’s Day in Malta. Alongside organisations like Women’s Rights Foundation, Men Against violence, Moviment Graffitti, Gender Equality Malta, and Integra Foundation, she’s organised nearly a month full of events celebrating Women’s Day, culminating next week.
“As in many other countries of the world, we are organising a march on Thursday 8th March at 5:30 in Valletta,” she said. “We are inviting anyone sharing our anger to participate, with the slogan Semma’ Leħnek – Raise Your Voice!”
One of the reasons they wanted to organise so many events was to give as much opportunity to women to speak out and raise their concerns.
“In Malta, there is lack of a feminist space for discussing various topics or understanding the origin of the patriarchal oppression that women face everyday, and also the LGBTQI community and men,” she said. “It is important to organise events and talks on this topic and to create a network of NGOs and people interested in these issues so as to be able to work together.”
The spaces are essential for society to progress beyond the inherent societal biases against women that are present.
“There is an underlying system that works through all of us, our institutions and our cultures,” said Arianna. “There is an interconnection between the culture of gendering children’s toys and activities, sexualised advertisements of any sort, sexist comments in the street and social media, rape and other forms of gender-based violence.
“We think that gender-based violence is deeply-rooted and inseparable from the reality of structural gender inequality that manifests itself in social attitudes, gender roles and dominant discourses,” she said.
After this morning’s discussion about patriarchy and misogyny, Arianna and the other organisers are preparing for the upcoming Women’s Day March on Thursday.
“If people are interested in participating in our initiative, they can find them on our Moviment Graffitti,” she said. “Should anyone wish to get more directly involved, one can send a message to the same page. During our events, you can also give your email addresses and we will keep you informed about the coming initiatives.”