The year of the green woman

In many countries, female participation in the labour market is less then that of men. Not surprisingly, Malta is bottom of the list.

A few days ago, the prestigious American magazine Foreign Policy named its top 100 global thinkers for this year. 4 green politicians shared the 32nd place. These are Monica Frassoni, Cécile Duflot, Renate Künast and Marina Silva.

Monica Frassoni, is co-spokesperson of the European Green Party, and has become one of the most influential green voices in the European Union.

Cécile Duflot, leads the French Green Party Ecologie Europe. It is France's third-most powerful party, and she is being dubbed a kingmaker for the 2012 presidential race.

Renate Künast presides over Germany's Green parliamentary coalition at a time when the party is polling higher than ever. She is also likely to be the first green mayor ever in Berlin next year.

Marina Silva, a rural activist and former environment minister in Brazil, surprised everyone by forcing her country's recent presidential election into a runoff, placing a strong third in the process.

Frassoni, Duflot, Künast and Silva are symbols of the gender dimension of green politics. Indeed, they consistently show that the way out of the economic and ecological crisis is to innovate through green technologies and a green new deal, creating jobs in the process. They are not the only female green politicians who made a hit in 2010.

Indeed, one can also refer to others such as Caroline Lucas, the first ever green politician who was elected in Britain’s parliament and Rebecca Harms co-leader of the Green Group in the European Parliament - indeed the only woman who heads a parliamentary group in the European Parliament. In the far east, Kazumi Inamura was elected the City Mayor of Amagasaki - the first Green Mayor in Japan! In Malta, we have had some relative success too, with AD’s spokesperson for Social Protection and Health, Nighat Urpani, having won the award for moral and environmental leadership by Junior Chamber International Malta.

Gender equality features high on the green agenda. If one looks at the European Union, we Greens are currently emphasising that gender must be given the importance it deserves in the EU's new economic strategy for 2020.

Indeed, even though the EU is the most progressive bloc in the world, the gender pay gap is still 17% on average, with highest rates at 35%. In many countries, female participation in the labour market is less then that of men. Not surprisingly, Malta is bottom of the list when it comes to female participation.

The Greens have been upfront in the struggle to raise EU standards on gender related polices. Frequently, various proposals and progressive concepts related to gender equality and to the politics of sexuality, such as Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights, originate from the Greens.

A case in point is maternity and paternity leave. We support social policy that dismantles the continuing barriers to having children and working.

The Green group in the European Parliament was crucial in the vote in favour of a minimum of 20 weeks maternity leave for European mothers at full pay and 2 weeks paternity leave at full pay. Such social reforms provide important steps for better division of caring responsibilities between women and men.

Indeed, as Greens, we endorse concepts of the universal caregiver (this being proposed by sociologist Nancy Fraser) which suggests that both men and women have access to the public and the private spheres and so share out the responsibilities attached to paid and unpaid work more equally.

Whilst Greens managed to convince others within the European Parliament for an extension of maternity and paternity leave, various Governments blocked this progressive move.

These include Malta’s, which once again has voted against concrete family-friendly social policies. So much for its talk on family values.

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Alfred Galea
RJ....doesn't matter if it's men or women then does it? As for child care centres, as long as the parents pay for the service and not the taxpayers I agree. As for the pension system, there is no way on God's little acre that the present system is sustainable as is, so get used to higher premimus, higher retirement age and lower benefits. And better come up with some registered retirement savings plan, tax deductable of course, to supplement the pension plan.
@ Joe south - "And how do more women in the workforce make it more beneficial to the country" Just one example: Malta requires more workers to sustain its pension system. thus, considering that malta has the lowest women participation in the workforce in the eu - this might be beneficial to the country. Another point: most of the uni grads are females - however, many opt to drop their job to take care of the family. No, there is no need for the government to create jobs for women only. However, child care centres would help.
Alfred Galea
Michael, how does one qualify to be a Green Woman?? By being a member of the AD?? By wanting the taxpayers to pay her wages while she sits at home raising her child?? By demanding a sort of "affirmative action" for women?? And how do more women in the workforce make it more beneficial to the country?? Should government create jobs for women only?? Should it lay-off men and employ women to even the numbers?? Can you fill us in please?
I hope the Green woman in the labour market will not look like the incredible hulk's sister