EWL press coverage

MP gender quotas rejected

The government will not be introducing gender quotas to ensure balance in Parliament, despite the fact that only nine per cent of MPs are women.
There are only six women in the House of Representatives

This jars when compared to the average number of women in national parliaments in EU countries, which stands at 22 per cent.

Out of the 27 EU member states, six have adopted legislation on candidate quotas, which has resulted in pushing up the number of MP women substantially. In some cases, such as Belgium and Spain, the increase is close to 40 per cent.

However, the Maltese government is not planning to go down that route. “Gender balance and increased female participation in Parliament can be achieved through different ways and means other than through the setting of quotas,” a spokesman for the Family Ministry said.

“More women are seeking election to Parliament and to local councils than ever before,” he said.

However, there are only six women in the House of Representatives compared to 63 men.

The ministry believes that the steady increase in female participation is because more women are participating in the labour market. “This has led more women than ever before to achieve financial independence, which allows them to carve a political and social life for themselves,” the spokesman said.

The sentiment was not exactly shared by the European Women’s Lobby, which is pushing for binding measures to ensure the equal representation of women and men in decision-making at EU level.

“We have to keep in mind that more than half of the population consists of women, so it’s only fair women are represented in the decision-making process,” Serap Altinisik, an EWL officer, said.

Addressing a conference by the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, she said that it was difficult to find information about gender balance: “Maltese political parties need to make their stand on quotas clearer and accessible to the public online. Why are they hiding the information instead of publishing it?”

She said that the EWL was constantly lobbying for binding measures such as quotas because there were lots of obstacles to achieve a gender balance in high positions. “I am sure that political parties will find highly motivated and qualified women to be placed on the list,” Ms Altinisik said, insisting that 60 per cent of academics in the EU are women.

At one point, she turned to Minister Chris Said and said that she was looking forward to the next election in Malta: “I am optimistic that there will be more than nine per cent of women elected.”

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