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Mpowered. By Women for Women: Iona Muscat

Mpowered. By Women for Women: Iona Muscat

Meet Iona Muscat – A remarkable lady who breaks, just about, every stereotype of what a woman should be.

Iona Muscat is extremely well-loved by everyone who knows her. She started off her career in the building and restoration industry with a huge passion for Malta's heritage. In her late twenties, Iona decided to change her career path completely and signed up for the army. She has now also relocated to Italy to train to become and AFM pilot. Furthermore, Iona Muscat is also an outstanding singer, pianist, and a keen dog lover! Scroll down to listen to the full podcast.

Starting off the discussion talking about her first passion, Iona’s love for Maltese heritage is physically visible from the smiles on her face.

‘You cannot be Maltese and not have some sort of fascination with the Maltese archaeology. It is a privilege to be surrounded by so much heritage from all kinds of periods. I felt like I was one of the lucky few who could contribute. When I used to be a curator with Heritage Malta, people used to smile when I give them all the juicy details. These details are remarkable. I got intrigued when I realised, I could contribute in this way.’

Clearly, Iona is a person who loves taking a leap of faith, especially when it comes to taking new adventures.

‘Unfortunately, sometimes you have to leave something you love and do something different when the opportunity presents itself. When I was studying, I had already pondered about once joining the army. However, the age limit, back then, was 25 years of age, so I slowly missed my chance. A couple of years down the line, the Armed Forces of Malta increased their age limit to 27. It was a ‘now or never’ situation. Although, I knew there were sacrifices to be made, I knew that this was not the end for archaeology. I said maybe one day I will get to do them both. Today, I still consider myself to be an archaeologist and I still love it so much.

 

But why the Armed Forces? ‘I admire everyone who works in the service sector and these people can never be thanked enough. But something about the Armed Forces spoke to me. Seven years down the line, I know that it brings everything together; helping other people, community work, etc. Soldiers are more behind the scenes, especially in the context of Malta. I do not have a single regret.’

 

Although the Armed Forces in any country, even here in Malta, is dominated by men, Iona never felt being at a disadvantage, just because she is a woman. ‘I think I had already been in a community who helped me not feel the disadvantage of being a woman. I was never put in that situation, but it was extra challenging. There might be an extra couple of things you have to do more than men. In the long run, I think it boils down to how much effort and enthusiasm you are willing to put into it. If you really focus on what really matters, then I think it is doable for everyone.’

Iona talks about the bond that military life instils in you. ‘Military life is what you make of it. It gives you ample opportunities and you become a family. We live it every day, you have to become family because you work with them longer hours, day and night. I haven’t been able to feel this kind of bond in the workplace than I’ve felt in the army.’

Asked what makes a good soldier/office, Iona admits that this is a difficult question to answer. ‘The idea is to be as close to the best version of yourself as you can. I think that is what makes me go through workday by day - trying to be the best version of me. I think the best version of everyone needs to be adapted to the situation. The army trains you to work on your character, integrity, use your own experiences and experiences from others – you become an even better version of yourself. The further you go through your career, the better person you become as a human being and as a soldier.’

Iona explains that there is the misconception that the physical challenges are the hardest parts of becoming a soldier. However, in her opinion, this is not so. ‘What most of beginner soldiers struggle with is the change in the approach. We’re not used to being shouted at and put under pressure while doing physical challenges. That is what the change is all about. It is not about how many push-ups you can do only, but in the end, it’s how much effort you put into making yourself a better soldier. It’s challenging but very rewarding.’

Recently, Iona has, once again, decided to take a leap of faith and take her career at a curve when she answered the call to take training as an AFM pilot. ‘The interest was always there. I have a thing of loving everything that is new and exciting. My problem is that I get interested in a lot of things. When the opportunity presented itself, I just went for it. You have to give yourself the opportunity to take a leap of faith. There have been doubts but I seem to get proven right the whole time. I believe that when you get the opportunity, you should go out and take it.’

Training to become a helicopter pilot, the end goal for Iona is to come back to Malta from Italy and working with her old family and new one! ‘It is going to be a new experience but still with the Armed Forces – the perfect balance.’

Iona’s advice to women is to realise that they already have what it takes to do great thing. ‘I think if you spend two minutes in front of the mirror and ask yourself what you want – you will probably know that you already have enough qualities to be and feel empowered. The issue is the fact that we are not used to seeing women doing fantastic work so the idea might not occur to you. Growing up, I thought that being a soldier is only for boys. Thankfully, our way of thinking has evolved throughout the years. Suddenly things are becoming very possible and real.’

Thank you for being on our podcast, Iona. What you are doing is an incredible inspiration for women. We wish you the very best! Listen to the full podcast below. 

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