Malta’s accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004 has undoubtedly increased the need for legislation and policies to address equality issues, although the country had already made important commitments to gender equality at the international level. For example, in 1991 the country had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Malta created a network of focal points on gender equality in government departments as an integral part of a mainstreaming policy.
Between 1996 and 1998, in preparation for EU accession, the Department of Women’s Rights was set up with a parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. The acquis communitaire was set as a ‘road map’ for Maltese economic and social policymaking. A number of different actions were taken by the Maltese government to address gender-mainstreaming implementation and to guarantee equal treatment for women and men in all policies and measures. For example, Government policy on gender mainstreaming as per Circular 24/2000 specifies that government departments and public sector organisations are responsible for the implementation of gender-equality policies and gender mainstreaming. This commitment was reiterated in 2012, through Circular 15/2012, which reasserted the responsibility of government departments and public sector organisations to implement gender-equality policies and gender mainstreaming, and to submit a brief annual report to the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) on the measures taken.