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Malta highlighted as key player at CBW Awards

Award-winners and guests at the CBW awards.

Award-winners and guests at the CBW awards.

Malta’s incremental role in women empowerment was celebrated at the Commonwealth Businesswomen Awards in London, writes Lara Sierra.

The Commonwealth Businesswomen (CBW) Awards, organised by local event planner Sarah Young, took place at the May Fair Hotel in London on the eve of April 18, following Malta hosting the first ever Commonwealth Women’s Forum as part of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2015.

This week, Malta’s initiative has been celebrated and propelled forward by the Commonwealth, with women in business being a recurring feature on the agenda throughout the two-day summit in London.

The awards celebrated the achievement of women in business across the Commonwealth and challenged the lack of genuine geographic diversity and inclusiveness in many international women’s achievement awards. Included on the winners’ list was Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, as Commonwealth Male Champion of Change. Other notable winners included the renowned journalist Baria Alamuddin, also known as the mother of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and the Financial Times reporter Madison Marriage, who reported last year on the Presidents Club Scandal in the midst of the #TimesUp movement.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Arif Zaman, executive director of the Commonwealth Businesswomen Network (CBW), spoke proudly of the achievements of women in business since Malta sparked the discussion back in 2015.

“The importance of women in Commonwealth countries was acknowledged by Malta back in 2015 and our impact has since improved, as women from countries of all shapes and sizes were celebrated last night as a result,” he said.

“Ending the legal barriers on women’s empowerment in business can be done if we connect, collaborate and do commerce. The outcome of last night was extremely encouraging, and the key message for us now is that the Commonwealth needs to be key at the centre of empowerment.”

Sarah Young oversees as executive director of CBW Arif Zaman speaks. Sarah Young oversees as executive director of CBW Arif Zaman speaks. 

This spark has encouraged an array of initiatives by Commonwealth Heads of State in the run-up to CHOGM 2018. Last Sunday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the launch of SheTrades, a £7 million fund initiated to support women to overcome barriers in business.

The CBW awards were followed by a Women’s Empowerment reception, hosted by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and attended by HRH Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle.  The CBW awards ceremony was planned with a distinctly Maltese flourish – Sarah Young and her team made a decision to run as much of the event as possible using the best that Malta has to offer.

“The supplies and sponsorship have all come from Malta,” she said. “I wanted to bring as much as I could from home, just to prove that while this is happening in London we have excellent business back here. Malta might not have been given much credit at the event otherwise, so I wanted to prove that we have good talent and good suppliers.”

Freda Mirklis, Chair of the CBW awards, said: “The talent we’ve seen in putting these awards together from a Maltese team and event with a strong Maltese flavour highlights the great promise and potential of Malta, the outgoing Chair of the Commonwealth, in one of the Commonwealth’s most dynamic and attractive places to do and succeed in business.”

Wine supplied from Malta flowed as business cards swapped from nation to nation. Maltese artwork, donated to a raffle, was the backdrop to many an introduction across all races and ages.

Maltese classical music was interspersed with traditional music from Botswana while, needless to say, the Maltese guests won the award for the liveliest conversation.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with guests at the Women’s Empowerment reception. Photo: ReutersMeghan Markle and Prince Harry with guests at the Women’s Empowerment reception. Photo: Reuters

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