PM’s wife hits out at ‘Catholic mentality’ that judges women who choose careers

Michelle Muscat tells International Women’s Day audience that ‘very Catholic country’ judges women when they do not participate fully in their children’s lives

Michelle Muscat - ‘One only needs to knock on a few doors to see that there are many women who have not reached their full potential’ (Photo: Ray Attard)
Michelle Muscat - ‘One only needs to knock on a few doors to see that there are many women who have not reached their full potential’ (Photo: Ray Attard)

The wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Michelle, has questioned whether a change is needed in the mentality of passing judgement over women who choose a career over being a full-time housewife.

"Although I am a practising Catholic, sometimes I see a certain divergence when progress made by women is said to not be in line with our religious teaching. Isn't it time to start, perhaps, separating these two things?"

"This will show that by giving women the chance to go to out and work, they needn't feel guilty about it... women cannot afford to think in an 'archaic' way."

Muscat was addressing an International Women's Day event with civil liberties minister Helena Dalli entitled 'Equality for women is progress for all' - both women remarked that celebrating the day itself was a reminder of the long way ahead in achieving equality.

Muscat said that many women did not have similar opportunities to achieve some form of success in life. "One only needs to knock on a few doors to see that there are many women who have not reached their full potential," she said, pointing out the high number of female graduates who do enter the workforce.

"What are they doing? Why are they staying home? Why are they feeling like the best thing for them to do is to stay at home?" she questioned.

"Is it because they feel that they need to stay at home once they've had children?" she asked. "And if so, is it because our very Catholic country judges us when we do not participate fully in our children's lives?"

"Ultimately, we've been taught ... that the best thing that a wife and a mother should do is to take care of her children."

She argued that women should not be made to feel guilty or judged when they are unable to pick their children up from school or other activities due to work reasons - with the role being passed on to others, such as the grandmother.

On her part, Dalli said gender inequality was not just a violation of a human right, but served as an obstacle for progress.

"People should be looked at in terms of what they can contribute... it's their hearts and minds that should be judged and not their gender," she said.

Dalli said that following the findings of a report by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency showing that one in three women in Malta had experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, she would be pushing for Malta to sign the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally-binding treaty on sexual abuse.

In a brief address, US ambassador Gina Abercrombie said that positive discrimination had a negative connotation, implying that women could not succeed on their own, but that the truth was that "nobody really makes it on their own."

"Everyone was given opportunities and women should take advantage of those opportunities so as not to get left behind. It doesn't really matter how a door is opened, but rather what one does when in the room," she said.

Lawyer Anita Aloisio, a partner at Nexia Malta, made her pitch for increased education of women, noting that the majority of illiterate persons in Malta were women. "Competitiveness relies very much on education, whether this education is technical, professional or even of the tertiary kind," she said.

Nurse Victoria Sultana, a lecturer at the University of Malta, criticised the low female representation in public positions in Malta. "Are women perceived as not being capable of holding public roles?" she asked. "There seems to be a dichotomy in the Mediterranean where women are judged capable to carry out both paid and unpaid jobs like housework, but then are not trusted in public roles," she said.

 

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Well said - I still hope that one day Malta will wake up and realize how much damaged the Catholic Church's misused patriarchal power continues to do to our women, children and also men.
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what can I say? where is diplomacy? everybody attacking the church? YES today women are choosing a career and the church is not interfering. women are losing on childhood, that is a FACT. PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS DO AS THEY WANT. THE CHURCH SIMPLY STATES WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS BAD. IF SOMEONE DOES'NT LIKE IT, OKEY. BUT DON'T JUGDE IF YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION OR UNDERSTANDING. YOU WOULD BE SIMPLY DOING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WANT. Apparently I misunderstood Mrs.Muscat. I thought she was a woman of a certain level, but I was mistaken. Caution has always been a virtue. An opinion can be said with various methods but certainly not with such UNKINDNESS.
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@dgl Qed mifhem li qieghed tassumi li l-mara jmissha toqghod id-dar biex trabbi it-tfal .... Fil gurnata tal llum naqra difficli li jkollok genitur wiehed jahdem u l-mara toqghod id-dar mat tfal .... finanzjarjament ma ghadix possibli. Pero nahseb personalment li l-mentalita li l-mara hija l-unika persuna kapaci trabbi it-tfal u ir-ragel jmissu jmur ghax-xoghol biex jaqla l-flus ghal familja kollha hija mentalita antikwata. Hawn nisa li jaqilaw aktar mir-ragel pero habba dik il-mentalita jkollom jieqfu min xogholom ghax "ragel mhux kapaci jrabbi it-tfal tajjeb daqs mara " .... Il problemi li hemm fit-tfal ma humix habba li l-omm marret ghax-xoghol ... nahseb aktar ricerka fuq dan is-suggett tghin milli toqghod tassumi li dan huwa kawza li l-omm tahdem.
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A number of issues were jumbled together here. Still, the gist of the message came across and it was a brave hitting out. It augurs well for a number of pro-female empowerment measures that this country badly needs and it will all start with the Maltese Church being told not to interfere in running the state.
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Although I am a man ( a boy amongst 10 girls in my family) I pay tribute to Michelle Muscat for saying the obvious. It takes courage and an open mind to say the bleeding obvious in Malta! She could have opted to be like other women, meek,obedient and good and cooking...and would have been the ultimate in gaining the local conservative Church's blessings. As Kathareen Hapburn used to say: 'If you obey all the rules, you miss most of the fun'!
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Unfortunately not everyone can afford a nanny, and not everyone wants to give up their children to strangers especially at infancy stage. How about those reasons? Sometimes we put our arguments forward and conveniently omit to say the obvious.
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jghidu x jghidu, jiena ghaliha il mara tieghi hija l aqwa persuna fid dinja biex tiehu hsieb it tfal. kellha professjoni, imma il prirorita huma tfal, xi darba jew ohra jikbru, u tista terga tohrog tahdem,it trobbija ta darba u iz zmien li jghaddi ma jergax jigi. ghaliha ma hawn xejn ahjar mit tfal, u l karriera ma ittikx sodisfazzjon daqs it tfal. Insejtu meta konna tfal xhin nigu mill iskola insibu l ikel shun l ommna isaqsina kif morna,u sustanzjuz, fejn hu illum healthy eating.morru fli iskejjel ha taraw it tfal bil problema ghax dejjem dar wahedhom
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Fabian Psaila
WELL DONE AND WELL SAID Michelle! With the teachings of the Maltese Church ,one is even made to feel guilty of having sex and enjoying it ...even if one is married! With the teachings of the Maltese Church ,one is even made to feel guilty using contraception it ...even if one is married! Let's move on with shared responsibility, that is the way forward...we just cannot afford not to !
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Re comment by malteseatheist and my views; I appreciate your comment and fully understand your questioning, however can you see that these politicians and their wives have to lead by a certain "way of gaining the majority" and example. Allow men to say this, I admire all that was said by Mrs Muscat and I admire what the P L in Malta is doing, but I also understand the need of the political diplomacy talk that is needed as a soft approach so that one is able to bring the people into what one is trying to achieve. So good on you Mrs Muscat keep up the good work.
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Re comment by malteseatheist and my views; I appreciate your comment and fully understand your questioning, however can you see that these politicians and their wives have to lead by a certain "way of gaining the majority" and example. Allow men to say this, I admire all that was said by Mrs Muscat and I admire what the P L in Malta is doing, but I also understand the need of the political diplomacy talk that is needed as a soft approach so that one is able to bring the people into what one is trying to achieve. So good on you Mrs Muscat keep up the good work.
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Why does she feel the need to back her argument by stating that she is a practising catholic. Why do politicians have to repeatedly affirm their religiousness. I take people less seriously when they say they are religious.

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