Gender corrective mechanism to boost women MPs clears Second Reading in parliament

Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar closes the Second Reading debate on the gender corrective mechanism

Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar
Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar

A corrective electoral mechanism to boost the number of women MPs has cleared the second stage in parliament with support from both sides of the House.

Parliament this evening approved the Second Reading of the proposed legal changes that intend to increase the under-represented gender by a maximum of 12 seats.

Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar closed the debate this evening and the law will now progress to committee stage where MPs will discuss the individual clauses.

The Nationalist Party has agreed with mechanism and put forward four key amendments that will be considered at committee stage.

In her closing remarks, Cutajar said it was not an option to allow more time to pass until more women make it to parliament.

“Not enough progress has been registered in decades in this regard despite all the changes society has gone through,” she said.

Cutajar tabled a photo of the composition of parliament in 1921, which was made up exclusively of men, and a photo of parliament after the 2017 election, which only had 10 women out of 67 MPs.

“You have to look out for the women to try and find them,” she said.

Cutajar noted that the proposed mechanism was not a quota and the women to be elected as a result would have to work on their respective districts to achieve a high ranking at the last count.

“This is not a question of women against men,” she insisted but a way of ensuring that parity is achieved in the country’s highest institution.

The mechanism proposed by government will apply only if two political parties are elected to parliament.

It will kick in if the under-represented sex constitutes less than 40% of parliamentary seats. However, only a maximum of 12 seats – six to either side – can be added.

The law will expire after 20 years.

The PN is proposing that the mechanism should also kick in if more than two parties are elected to parliament with the third party benefitting only if it has a minimum of five seats.

The Opposition is also proposing entrenching the mechanism in the Constitution.

It remains unclear whether the government will accept the Opposition’s amendments but Cutajar this evening appeared open to the proposal to entrench the mechanism in the Constitution.

Find out here how the gender corrective mechanism would have worked if applied to the 2017 general election.

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