Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is the ninth President of the Republic of Malta. Her nomination as President was, for the first time in the history of the Maltese parliament, approved unanimously by a parliamentary resolution of the House of Representatives taken on 1 April 2014, marking a development in the constitutional history of Malta. She took the oath of President of Malta on 4 April 2014.
At the age of 55 years, Coleiro Preca is the youngest President of the country, and is the second woman occupying the office of Head of State after 32 years.
Soon after taking office, Her Excellency established a number of entities to ensure dialogue and to foster effective unity among people.
The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society
The Foundation was founded on 25th June 2014. The Foundation, as the first of its kind in Malta, aims to create a safe space for dialogue on social wellbeing, bridging popular wisdom with academic research. Through this process, the Foundation works towards enhancing human relationships, and sharing and understanding what fosters wellbeing, as well as what hinders it. The Foundation focuses on consultation through the Foundation Fora on Children, Family, Community, Transculturalism, Interfaith, and Disability, and conducts research through the following Research Entities:
- National Institute for Childhood
- National Centre for Family Research
- National Observatory for Living with Dignity,
- National Centre for Freedom from Addictions
- National Hub for Ethno-botanical Research.
The Malta Community Chest Fund
Her Excellency established the Malta Community Chest Fund as a Foundation, with the aim of providing financial, material and professional support to individuals, families, communities, and voluntary organisations. The Foundation aims at improving the quality of life for individuals, without any form of discrimination on the basis of social class, gender identity, ethnicity, age, ability, health status or religion.
The Children’s Hub provides a safe, interactive and creative space at San Anton Gardens giving Maltese children the space to express their personality, express their opinions and feel empowered, through informal education. It aims to foster intergenerational dialogue as well participation, inclusion and involvement of children with activities focusing on five key areas, including self-expression, healthy eating, education, nurture, and art.
National Forum of Trade Unions
The National Forum of Trade Unions creates opportunities for dialogue among Trade Unions. Such dialogue encourages solutions to difficulties encountered at the place of work, and ensures the wellbeing of all employees.
National Cancer Platform
The National Cancer Platform brings together all the non-government organisations working in the field of cancer to collaborate together in order to ensure a holistic, co-ordinated and sustainable service for all cancer patients and their loved ones. Each organisation remains autonomous, keeps its identity and way of working, while providing comprehensive information and support to its members. Through the Platform, members of organisations that offer support to people effected by cancer and their families, become familiar with the work being carried out by other organisations offering similar, or complementary services.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca dedicated her life to the social wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society, and brought about effective changes in the social policies of Malta.
On 13 March 2013, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was appointed as Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity. During the year that she was Minister, she initiated various reforms.
The key reforms affected during her term of office included those in the area of social housing, as well as the reform for an integrated social system based on community level approaches through the establishment of the Family Resource Centres. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca worked relentlessly in social development and in creating Regional Centres.
Yet another reform brought about the simplification of the benefits system of those who reach retirement age, persons eligible for marriage grant, persons who are eligible for the widow pensions and those eligible for the children’s allowance, who now receive the benefits without the need for applications, thus rendering the system more efficienct.
Coleiro Preca initiated the introduction of the single-means testing mechanism, as well as a complete overhaul in the area of welfare and more effective anti-fraud social benefits system. She set up a Welfare Reform Task Force to update the Welfare system and curb abuse and fraud.
During her term as Minister, Coleiro Preca initiated the development of a strategy for the sustainability and adequacy of pensions. She addressed the anomalies in the pension of former shipyard workers and introduced a number of measures, such as the provision of full pension to widows who are working, and the provision of children’s supplement to address child poverty motivated by their school attendance, health check-ups and involvement in culture or sports.
As Minister, Coleiro Preca tabled several laws before Parliament, including the Act on the Protection of Children, as part of the Children’s Act, and which was developed using the innovative bottom-up approach methodology. She established the Sexual Assault Response Team, where for the first time ever, rape victims may receive an integrated service in one location.
In December 2013, together with the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, Coleiro Preca launched the LEAP project. This project funded by the European Social Fund, established the Family Resources Centres to provide services at the heart of communities and which gave a start to the implementation of the new Social Investment Package introduced by the European Union.
In January 2014, Coleiro Preca developed and launched, together with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, the Green Paper: Structure for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion. Over 22,000 children are benefitting from the child supplement introduced to tackle poverty and social exclusion, as part of the strategy.
Marie-Louise Coeiro Preca had been active in politics for forty years, starting at the young age of sixteen years. She served in Parliament for sixteen years.
Coleiro Preca has been active in politics for the past forty years, Within the Labour Party, she served as a member of the National Executive, Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary General, occupying the latter post between 1982 and 1991. Coleiro Preca is the only woman who ever occupied this important elected position in a Maltese political party.
Coleiro Preca was also a member of the National Youth Socialists Bureau, President of the Socialist Women’s Group, member of the National Council of the Malta Labour Party, member of the National Bureau of Socialist Youths (now the Labour Youth Forum), founder member of Ġuze Ellul Mercer Foundation, as well as editor of the newspaper, il-Ħelsien.
Coleiro Preca served on the board of directors of Maltacom plc (now the GO Company), as well as the Libyan Arab Maltese Holding Company. She was also a member of the National Commission for Fiscal Morality.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2014. In the 2008 and again in 2013 general elections, she was the first candidate to be elected to Parliament.
As a Member of Parliament in Opposition, she served as Shadow Minister for Social Policy, Tourism, the national airline, and Health. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs and the Family. She also served in the Parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe and on various committees that fall within it.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca graduated as Bachelor in Legal and Humanities and as Notary Public at the University of Malta.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was awarded the Crans Montana Prix de la Fondation 2014, an award given to prominent personalities who strive for peace, freedom and democracy.
Recent Speeches given at International Level
Invited to give the keynote speech at the European Conference ‘The Europe 2020 poverty target: lessons learned and the way forward Conference’ held in Brussels. In June 2015, Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was also invited to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Invited to give the keynote speech ‘The new challenge of Migration in Europe: its impact on government policies and bilateral relations’ at the Crans Montana Forum high-level Conference in Brussels dedicated to Migration. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was awarded an Honorary Life Presidency of the Arab-European Forum for Dialogue and Development and was made Honorary Professor of the University of Warwick.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is married to Edgar Preca and has a daughter.
Source: Office of President Coleiro Preca, 09/15