Breastfeeding, Babysitters And Business: SHE Malta Event Cuts To Core Of Working Women's Issues

Vanessa Conneely - 28th March 2019

Seventh female networking day takes place in Xara Lodge.

Loneliness, guilt and balance were just three of the many emotions discussed at one of Malta’s leading female networking events earlier today.

More than 200 women gathered at the Xara Lodge in Rabat to both listen and share stories of what it’s like to be a working woman in 2019.

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List of activities on the day

Honesty

Speakers on the day included Christina Busuttil, Founder and Director of Artemisia Fine Arts & Antiques, who spoke openly about how lonely running your own business can be. “I’m extremely passionate about what I do,” she told the audience. “You show me a painting and I could bore the living daylights out of anyone speaking about it. But the reality is, working for yourself is a damn lonely world. I went from having a wide circle of friends to having very few. My partner doesn’t get what I do, my dad doesn’t get it, so you really need to be strong. I don’t feel like I have a story that many people can relate to. I’m quite young to be doing what I do, in the industry that I’m in, so I don’t exactly fit into any mould. Invest every day in something that inspires you and even go to a therapist if it helps. So many people start businesses and fail, and I wonder why the attrition rate is so high.”

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Martina Brtnicka and baby Oliver 

Mummy guilt

Another issue that was repeatedly discussed was the struggle facing many working mothers. Co-founder Sarah Woods opened the event by saying, “my son gave me his lucky stone this morning, so I feel it’s going to be a good day,” setting an inclusive tone for the day. Her business partner Julia Perry fielded questions from audience members to the four speakers on stage, including from new-mum Martina Brtnicka, who rocked her six-month-old son Oliver, while asking for advice about going back to work after maternity leave.

Guest speaker Lisa Grech, who’s Director at The Definitive(ly) Good Guide and Co-Founder of Malta Artisan Markets immediately empathised. “I remember a time I was at an awards ceremony and had to keep running to my hotel room to breastfeed my baby in between handing out awards.” Lisa also offered a suggestion to parents. “If you can afford a good babysitter, it’s a great investment. It gives you peace of mind to know that your children are being well taken care of while you have to work. I always try and focus on the job that’s in front of me, so when I’m with the children I focus directly on them and give them my total attention, and when I’m at work, I’m at work. There is so much limited time to cover everything and it’s just about prioritising. Everything I do from running the Malta Artisan Markets as well as the Malta Baby and Kids website is something I love and enjoy, but it’s also intertwined. I bring my children to the markets and ask them to wear branded T-shirts and hand out flyers for some pocket money.”

Circle of Power

After the morning talk, the ladies took part in an exercise called Power Networking Circles, aimed at encouraging face-to-face introductions leading to potential collaborations.

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Enrika Pizzuto, Owner of Eclecticist 

One attendee who was grateful for this opportunity was 26-year-old Yanika Muscat who works as a receptionist for Malta Post, as well as being a travel blogger and film-maker on the side. “I set my blog up a year-and-a-half ago as a hobby, but now I’m at the stage where I want to take it to the next level. This is my first time coming to a SHE Malta event and I’m hoping to meet other entrepreneurs, especially women. I feel it will allow me to meet a larger number of like-minded people as well as build connections.”

Enrika Pizzuto, 31 is Owner and Managing Director of the concept and design store Eclecticist in Attard, which she opened two-and-a-half-years ago. As well as attending the event she was one of several pop-up stalls who took part on the day. “When it comes to business, I just follow my gut. I don’t really care what people have to say. I think in general women are supported in Malta. I know the men in my family do a lot of things for me, like carrying boxes and helping out. My customers are both women and men. I’m trying to educate people that well-made, well-designed, good quality products are worth spending a little more on, and I feel it’s something both men and women here in Malta are starting to understand.”

Apart from businesses, female-focused groups such as Victim Support Malta were represented on the day, as well as the broader topics of strength, vulnerability and multi-tasking.

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