[WATCH] Labour’s 'feminist' electoral manifesto will push for further equality

Joseph Muscat: ‘I’ve led the most feminist government this country has ever seen and we now stand before you with a feminist manifesto’

Labour leader Joseph Muscat addresses women in an event organised by Nisa Laburisti (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
Labour leader Joseph Muscat addresses women in an event organised by Nisa Laburisti (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)

Seeing women hold top roles, work to continue reducing the gender pay gap and push for a fairer gender representation in parliament will be a priority for the Labour Party if re-elected for a second term, Joseph Muscat has pledged.

Addressing a political activity in Marsaskala organized by the party’s women branch, leader Joseph Muscat said that his government had been the “most feminist” Malta had seen.

Among others, he cited the appointment of more women members of the judiciary as an example and the reduction of the number of women in poverty – which has dropped to 9,000 from 20,000.

“We stand before you with a feminist manifesto,” he said, arguing that measures which support the family and measures which incentivize a stronger female role in businesses showed his party’s commitment.

Muscat said he wanted Malta to continue progressing in this field, where society is not surprised if a husband takes on his wife’s surname and where children can take their mother’s surname.

“We want parents to choose what they want with their parental leave… why shouldn’t the father agree to stay at home to take care of a newborn if the couple wishes to do so? The sign of a mature society is one where a couple decides in all liberty and freedom the best way to bring up their children.”

Crowds gather to greet Joseph Muscat (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
Crowds gather to greet Joseph Muscat (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)

Muscat said some people do not realize that Malta still remained a highly patriarchal society, where a woman still needs the signature of her husband – even if separated – on certain documents.

Muscat pledged that his government “won’t tolerate any more discrepancies” in salaries paid to men and women.

Muscat said that the Labour government had made huge strides forward in civil rights, were equality was just a buzzword.

“We inherited a system where previous administrations had failed to support women in the advancement of their lives and career. The best way to ensure the emancipation of women is through financial independence,” Muscat said.

By way of example, Muscat cited examples of domestic violence where victims would find it harder to report the abuse if they were financial dependent on their partner.

“But when a woman is financially independent, abuse becomes harder tolerate,” he said.

The Prime Minister said many women continue to suffer in silence but his government had started to help women gain their independence.

“It’s a matter of principle: I will never accept anyone in this party who has defended abusive men as having been provoked into domestic violence.”

Muscat was referred to comments made by Josie Muscat, who is standing with the Nationalist Party as a candidate for next Saturday’s elections.

“People who think this way do not have a place in our society. It’s unacceptable to have someone who aims to represent the electorate in the highest of institutions and who thinks this way.

“We are today prouder than ever before that we always safeguard and promote the cardinal principle of equality, offering equal opportunities to men and women.”

The Labour leader said that the provision of free childcare services to parents who work – as opposed to everyone, including those who don’t work – helped families to slowly wean off social benefits.