University community raises awareness about gender-based violence

A series of activities took place late last year.

Through a number of timely initiatives, the University of Malta (UM) is working to create more awareness on gender-based violence within its community, and beyond.

‘Creating Awareness through Research’ is a fruitful collaboration between the UM Library and its Equity Office that brought about the compilation of around 50 student dissertations on gender-based violence and violence against women and girls. By means of a poster that is being disseminated on campus and online, the general public can scan a QR code and be automatically led to the abstracts of each of these dissertations. Interested parties can access full copies of the research at the Melitensia section of the UM Library. 

In yet another collaboration, the Equity Office asked UM student organisations to propose a number of actionable proposals to address, prevent and combat gender-based violence. In November, a student-led initiative was organised outside the library to present these proposals to the public. 

Għaqda tal-Malti, BetaPsi, the Media and Knowledge Sciences Association, the Criminology Students Association and the Erasmus Student Network – Malta each presented their ideas and proposals, which included the development of training sessions and information on power dynamics, consent and the role of bystanders, the preparation of programs that enhance media literacy to help individuals critically analyse and challenge harmful representations of gender in the media, and the investment in a helpline exclusive to university students. 

The University of Malta also has a number of policies in place, namely its Sexual Harassment Policy, its Harassment and Bullying Policy, and its Gender Plus Equity Plan, to ongoingly help cultivate a culture of fairness, inclusivity and continual improvements within its community.

The University’s Pro-Rector for Students & Staff Affairs and Outreach, Prof. Carmen Sammut, said “that in tandem with the University’s Strategic Plan, an inclusive university will lead to a more inclusive society, and this is why we believe in the importance of student-led initiatives when it comes to our understanding of such critical matters”.

This research and proposals are being presented to relevant authorities, to assist them in their informed decision-making practices. 

“Our intention is to disseminate this knowledge to those vested with decision-making authorities. Alongside presenting actionable proposals to combat gender-based violence, we aim to underscore that students not only care deeply about this issue but are themselves agents of change”, expressed Ms Nadia Abdilla, the University’s Equity Coordinator. 

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