Agatha Barbara achieved several significant firsts for women in Malta.
During her long career devoted to social and economic reform, she became the first female MP, the first woman to become a Minister and the first female President of the Republic.
As Education Minister, full-time schooling was made compulsory for all children under the age of 16.
She oversaw the establishment of a teacher training college, free tuition, special bus services for school pupils, and the first schools for children with hearing or sight impairments.
Perhaps most important, Miss Barbara ensured that science classes were open to girls as well as boys.
Later on in her career, she abolished university fees and introduced equal pay for both men and women, followed by paid maternity leave.
As Employment Minister, the working week was restricted to 40 hours, and retirement pensions and unemployment benefits were introduced.
From 1982 to 1987, she served as President of Malta, becoming the first Maltese woman to achieve that distinction.
Miss Barbara followed in The Queen’s footsteps when her image appeared on Malta’s banknotes for the first time in 1986.
They were withdrawn from circulation in 1989.
She passed away in Zabbar in February 2002, at the age of 78.
A statue in her memory was unveiled in her home town in 2006 by Dr Eddie Fenech Adami.