The concept of 360° was first launched in 2014 in a collaboration between Betapsi – the Psychology Students’ Association and Willingness, as a way to bring light to different relevant and current topics. ‘Gender 360°’ was this year’s topic, taking a ‘Multidisciplinary Approach towards all Genders.’ The conference, held on 5th March 2022, discussed and disseminated information regarding women’s rights, men’s rights, transgender rights, relationships, families, as well as gender dynamics and many other topics from a variety of perspectives.
The conference started off with an opening-keynote which saw Mark Lawrence Zammit and Deborah Francalanza as speakers, with their presentation ‘Love is Crazy.’ The two young speakers shared their views on social media and relationships – including how social media, in today’s age, plays a big part in influencing our expectations when it comes to love.
Following the opening-keynote, the Willingness Team held a Multidisciplinary Case Review. This was a way to actively involve the audience in a talk about gender stereotypes in society within a given situation and try and come up with solutions and ways on how to approach the case.
Many different views and opinions were shared, coming from both the professionals, who were hosting the case study as well as people from the audience. Many took on the approach of the classic falling in love with the fantasy – the idea – of a person, rather than the person themselves; others questioned whether it was a matter of expectations one might have for their partner. Others, on the opposite end, spoke up about how unconditional love means respecting change and development in your partner, regardless of whether you agree or not. Lastly, a couple of people mentioned the viewing of love not only as a sentiment, but rather as an investment.
After the Case Study Review, the first set of workshops started. Each of the four rooms had a guest speaker each – each talking about different matters and perspectives concerning gender. The workshop in Room 1 saw Sonya Sammut in her talk ‘Biological roots and truths of sex, gender, and equality.’ The workshop held in Room 2 saw Dr Rachel Scicluna in her presentation called ‘Beyond Walls: Gendering and Queering Space.’ Moving on, the third workshop in the first set, saw as guest speaker Anthony Camilleri, with his talk ‘Homelessness and Gender Disparities’ concerning, as the title suggest, the local problem around homelessness and how that is tied also with gender problems and stereotypes. Lastly, the first set of workshops ended with Michael Neuman and his ‘Gender Inclusivity in Schools’ presentation, talking about the importance of inclusivity from an early age and how that being present in schools makes a difference for the better.
The second set of workshops was spread out like the first one, but now presenting different speakers and yet more different perspectives on gender. The workshop in Room 1 saw Stef Gafa’ and Romeo Roaxman Gatt as speakers, with their talk ‘What is Masculinity?’. Moreover, Room 2 had Dr Lara Dimitrijevic as guest speaker with her presentation ‘The role of law in achieving gender equality.’ Moving on to the third workshop of this set, we had the presentation on ‘The medical aspects and care of Transgender and Gender non-conforming individuals’ by the gynaecologist Dr Chiara Frendo Balzan. Lastly, the fourth presentation held within this set saw Karen Mamo with her presentation on women and how these are perceived when drug and addiction are involved – ‘Wo(men) without the ‘wo’; Women’s (in)visibility in addiction studies and drug policy.’
The third and last set of workshops played out a little differently than the first two; workshop three and four had been replaced with symposiums, hosting multiple speakers one after the other within the same one hour and fifteen minutes time span, each tackling different aspects and perspectives on gender. The first workshop of this set saw Dorian Mallia, Margerita Pulè and Mina/Jack Tolu on their talk ‘Expressing identity: A conversation with Artists.’ The second workshop took on a different approach to the topic and sees Alexander Mangion with his talk ‘The Battle of Emotions’ where he tackled the arguments of depression and anxiety within gender related issues by also bringing in his own personal experience.
Moreover, the two symposiums held in two different rooms saw speakers as follows: the first room hosted Rebecca Caruana with her talk and analysation of statistics on ‘Gender-Based Violence’, followed by Imanuel D’Anjou with his presentation titled ‘What can archaeologists, including prehistorians, gain from gender studies, or what can society gain from what they gained?’ This was then followed by speakers Petra Scicluna & Gabriella Buttigieg with their talk ‘The experience of women within the Maltese Criminal Justice System.’ These talks were then followed by a symposium discussion between the speakers and the audience, including any questions they might have and/or clarifications on certain points.
The second room hosting the second symposium saw as their first speaker Dr Damien Spiteri with his talk ‘Young Gay Men at the Workplace in Malta.’ This was then followed by speakers from the University of Malta Futsal with their presentation on ‘The Gender – sports relationship in the Context of Societal Perceptions, Equal Opportunities, investment, & Funding in Athletes: A local Study.’ Lastly, a talk on parenting adolescents across the gender spectrum was given by Colette Farrugia Bennet, titles ‘Parenting adolescents across the gender spectrum: the experience of parents whose adolescents identify as gender variant or transgender.’ After this last talk, a discussion as in the previous symposium took place, tackling any questions or uncertainties.
Following all the workshops and symposiums, a 30-minutes talk serving as the closing-keynote was given by Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.