Ditch the ‘women belong in the kitchen’ stigma, says equality secretary

Ditch the ‘women belong in the kitchen’ stigma, says equality secretary, if Maltese women are to have better financial independence

The government wants to develop institutional mechanisms for gender mainstreaming and equality, to assist Maltese women in becoming more financially independent.

Parliamentary secretary for equality Rebecca Buttigieg, addressing a conference for the Gender Equality and Mainstreaming Strategy and Action Plan, said sustainable societies had to invest in women’s economic independence and empowerment to pave the way for gender equality.

“By ditching the stereotype that women stay at home or belong in the kitchen, we can win better financial independence for Maltese women,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said the action plan is calling for measures that address social and economic policies, taxation, and social security systems, to ensure equal treatment in all spheres of life.

Buttigieg said the government will also address the reality of ‘period poverty’ – the challenges women face during menstrual cycles in terms of hygiene needs and pain – pledging free pads and tampons, but also VAT-free menstrual products as from 2023.

“Gender inequality in the workplace is not just a result of wage poverty – for many years, women had to deal with the stereotype that they ‘should stay in the kitchen’… one measure is to encourage equal responsibility between parents, resulting in increased work flexibility for both parents.”

In Malta, 30.5% of Maltese women are deemed to be at danger of poverty, compared to 27.4% of males. The large percentage of elderly women who receive little or no pension at all, are a significant contributor to this discrepancy, where women over 65 received 40% less pensions in 2019 than men did.

The government will investigate the existing gender disparities in pensions, evaluate the dangers of such disparities, and suggest measures as necessary as well as updating taxation policies.