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President calls for higher participation of women in cultural employment

The President is calling for action over “troubling” data that Malta has one of the lowest participation of women in cultural employment.

Addressing a conference on psychiatry and art at the Verdala Palace, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca insisted that all voices – including all ethnicities, genders, and generations - are valued.

"I believe we must support members of groups that are excluded from full participation in mainstream culture and, therefore, are at higher risks of vulnerability and precarity. Women are one such group."

The conference, she hoped, will take a gender-sensitive approach to the subject of creativity, psycho-social wellbeing, and participation in the arts.

The access that women have in the cultural sector was an important indication of their ability to promote policies and projects that reflect the needs, concerns, and aspirations of women in a realistic and proactive way.

This made the latest data on cultural employment, provided by Eurostat, all the more worrying, Ms Coleiro Preca added.

Malta is one of six EU member states where women’s participation in cultural employment is the lowest recorded in the European Union.

“More must be done to address this troubling situation, and to create a context of equality and inclusion for women and girls.”

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The President referred to creativity as a “catalyst for critical thinking”, which she said was a skill that our society should focus on, especially among our children and young people.

"But there were also other areas that we should focus our attention. As we all know, Malta and the rest of the EU are experiencing a rapidly ageing population," she explained.

Research, she said, demonstrated that, for people with dementia and other neurological conditions, the ability to create art lasted longer than speech and language abilities.

Research has also shown that creating visual art reduces stress and promotes relaxation in people who are hospitalised, or cannot leave their homes due to serious illnesses.

Recent research suggests that, to avoid cognitive decline, doing creative activities may be more effective than merely appreciating creative works.

“I believe that we must continue to promote opportunities for creativity among children and young people, minority and vulnerable groups and ageing populations.

“In this way, we would be promoting resilience and long-term development, while also preparing our citizens to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world, with open minds and a sense of innovation.”

This conference, endorsed by the Valletta 2018 Foundation, is a collaboration between The University of Malta, The Psychiatric Services in Malta, The University of Cambridge Clinical School, Clare College Cambridge, Centro Studi Psichiatrici Iseo Italy, and the The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social CareSt Catherine’s College, Oxford.

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