Dignity is what it should be all about

PN candidate Claudio Grech writes: Rather than wasting precious time in petty bickering we should converge our strengths to address these social challenges

Young people can be mobilized to achieve ambitious societal and economic goals
Young people can be mobilized to achieve ambitious societal and economic goals

Human life is sacred and we are to think no less of somebody because of his beliefs, political leanings, race, physical abilities, culture or economic status. Every human being should be regarded as an invaluable member of society with a free expression of their right to life. It is imperative that we create a sense of self-worth, a sense of pride in oneself and a conscious sense that every individual deserves respect from others. It is only within this sense of dignity that each one of us can strive to be the best that one can possibly be in each stage of life, from childhood to retirement.  

Young people are a critical resource to society and can be mobilised to achieve ambitious societal and economic goals. Although the opportunities to acquire academic and vocational skills have increased, there still remains a considerable share of youth who reach employability age with no qualifications or skills resulting in a number of them joining the shadow market.

This unofficial participation in the labour market often leads to an erosion of a person’s dignity since, in the long-term, it limits the individual’s upward job mobility. This is a reality in youth segments from underprivileged communities, where for a number of reasons access to education and empowering opportunities were very limited due to difficult social realities. 

I strongly feel that empowering citizens with skills is a continuous ambition. As politicians we should strive to create nation-wide opportunities in the context of our country’s economic landscape. There should be better development and use of skills which reflect the present and future needs of the economic sectors which our country is seeking to develop.

The financial services sector, including the thriving gaming and corporate services sectors, the tourism sector, the aviation sector and the high value-added manufacturing companies are the leading contributors to Malta’s economic performance, hence the need to effectively and pro-actively address their skill needs while providing a flexible academic and vocational skills programme.  

The role of economic and social policy for human capital to thrive cannot be over emphasised. The strength of the country’s economy through the attraction of foreign direct investment and growth of the indigenous business sector is one of the basic pillars of every government. Yet on the wave of every economic boom an ambitious social policy programme should also be part of our country’s growth model. 

Illness, disability and old age can rob an individual of dignity. Frailty and illness are often irreversible in advanced age and can alter the identity of the person. Our society owes an experience of dignity to our elderly, empowering them to accept the inevitability of ageing, preparing them to accept it and enjoy it.  Peace of mind of an active retirement should be provided though the availability of opportunities, at local and national level, to be active socially and intellectually.  The termination of employment, coupled with changes in the family structure often leads to a sense of worthlessness.  The involvement of the elderly in voluntary and other work enhances a sense of identity and merit. 

Universal access to high quality care in a financial sustainable manner is another imperative towards social cohesion. Although big strides have been registered in this regard over the last two decades, there is the urgency to guarantee the best possible care to patients with life-threatening diseases, the elderly and people with disabilities. Continuous awareness on disease prevention must be a consistent main-stay in the public health care effort, since this has a direct impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the country’s health system.  Good quality preventive and curative care should be available to all, and the need for such care should not lead to a financial strain or poverty.  Persons with disabilities need empowering services and income security that allows them a decent standard of living, where possible through their active role in the labour market.  

The provision of long-term childcare services is important as women increase their participation in the labour market and the average retirement age increases, thus limiting the availability of grandparents to care for the young ones.  

Access to free high-quality care services, including that for the elderly and persons with disabilities is a must in order to guarantee access to a wider labour market. The provision of such services is a direct contributor to the country’s economy since it increases the participation of a pool of human resources who otherwise would have to stay inactive in order to care for the dependent segment, including children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

This is why dignity is what we should be striving for day in, day out. Rather than wasting precious time in petty bickering we should converge our strengths to address these social challenges. Let’s strive to provide equal opportunities enabling the people to live a decent life making the most of their talents. Let’s work to address sustainable social protection including access to essential services like childcare, education, health, elderly and disability care, thus enabling individuals to participate fully in society in a dignified manner, making the most of their individual resources and the favourable economic and societal environment of the country.  

This is what politics should be all about.

Claudio Grech is a Nationalist MP and a candidate on the first district

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