Gender balance still suffers in political appointments

Situation remains unchanged in government posts as only one in three political appointments is a woman

Female occupancy on government boards, commissions and regulators has increased by three percentage points over 2013, but is still low despite efforts to address the gender imbalance on politically-appointed entities.

According to MaltaToday’s calculations on parliamentary information submitted by minister for social dialogue Helena Dalli, 30.06% of all government board members are women – just a slight improvement over the 27.6% representation of 2013.

The figure confirms the low representation of women on government boards despite the change in administration and also the support for a European Commission proposal to eliminate gender imbalance in decision-making positions.

In a separate exercise, gender equality among leaders and directors of 20 top government corporations saw yet another decline under the Labour administration.

The corporations are government companies and agencies that command large amounts of capital in taxpayers’ cash and take decisions that affect taxpayers on a daily basis, apart from two publicly listed companies, Bank of Valletta and Malta International Airport plc.

After female occupancy on these boards of directors was almost halved to 18% under Labour from 29% in 2012, in 2014 this has been notched down to 16.6%.

Women remain excluded from the board of MIA plc, and while Malta Government Investments increased the size of its board to five, none of them is a woman.

Bank of Valletta too, to which the government appoints its chairman as the largest institutional shareholder, has no women directors now. Malita Investments plc, which finances the €80 million City Gate Project, has seen its board membership rise to seven men from four.

The Malta Stock Exchange lost its singular woman member on its five-strong board, as did Enemalta, now with six male members, and the PBS editorial board remains without a woman. The Water Services Corporation also lost its only woman on the board, while the Malta Freeport remains led by a three-man board.

According to the European Commission’s database of gender quotas, Malta’s 21 largest quoted companies trading on the Malta Stock Exchange are all chaired by men, while 97% of all company directors sitting on boards are men – no clear improvement from 2013 when 98% of directors were men.

Of the largest publicly listed companies on the MSE, only 10 women were CEOs while 90 were men; women executives increased to 13 from 10, while men went down from 90 to 87, while non-executive directors in the two highest decision-making bodies in each company had only 10 women, compared to 90 men.

A proposed EU law for quotas would affect a company like Bank of Valletta, in which the government retains a 25% shareholding and the right to appoint the chairperson of the board of directors. For state-owned companies trading on the stock exchange, gender quotas will come into force by 2018.

The appointment of more women judges has seen an increase of one female judge, bringing the balance in the superior courts to five women and 18 men in 2014, compared to four women and 18 men in 2013.

Malta’s parliament lost social solidarity minister Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca to the Presidency of the Republic, bringing women MPs down to 9 out of a total of 70; but the Cabinet gained a woman parliamentary secretary in Justyne Caruana. In 2012, only two ministers were women in the smaller cabinet of 13.

While female representation decreased in the House of Representatives from six to 10, the 2014 European Parliament elections returned four women out of six MEPs.

Top officials – the Chief Justice, the judges who sit on the Constitutional Court and all courts of appeal, the Attorney General, the Auditor General and the Speaker of the House – also remain men.