President urges parties to use innovative methods to encourage women participation in politics

Women cannot be absent from policymaking and decision-taking processes, resident Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca says

Women’s absence from leadership positions and the implications of economic discrimination is cause for alarm, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca warned.

“We cannot allow women’s perspectives to be absent from policymaking and decision-taking processes,” she said ahead of tomorrow’s International Women’s Day.

Coleiro Preca took the opportunity to appeal to all the political parties in Malta, to encourage more women to take part in the country’s political and public life by exploring innovative ways.

In Malta, just nine of Malta’s 71 MPs are women placing the country in the 142nd place worldwide in terms of women representation in parliament, behind countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Guatemala. 

Coleiro Preca said the latest European Gender Equality Index rated Malta at 29.4% when it came to Maltese women’s political participation, when the EU average stood at 49.8%.

“By 2030, the nations of the world have committed themselves to raise the percentage of women in global government to 50%. We definitely need to invest more of our energies and resources into making this target a reality.”

Closing a conference, titled ‘Women in Politics and Leadership’, organised by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the President encouraged decision-makers to be bold and to work together to develop innovative and further inclusive strategies for the future.

One of the newer entities of the President’s Foundation — the Forum for Active Community Engagement (FACE) — organised the conference. Also invited to address the conference were Zita Gurmai, president of the Party of European Socialists Women, and Caterina Chinnici, MEP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

Coleiro Preca highlighted the dire situation where just 2.7% of women were represented on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies in Malta, and for every woman who either held the position of director or CEO, there were four men occupying such a role.

“The gender pay gap also continues to widen. Eurostat figures show the gap has increased to 10.6% in 2016 from 4.5% in 2014. We must definitely do more, in synergy between our national authorities and civil society, to address this alarming state of affairs,” the President said.

“Gender equity is not simply a ‘women’s issue’. It is essential for our healthy democratic republic to take our responsibilities, as women and men, and the whole of society, seriously,” she added.

Malta’s low levels of political representation was also raised by Ruth Farrugia, director general of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, who said people were concerned at the present “miserable” rates.

“Our response to these concerns has been to provide a space to delve into these issues and hopefully to come up with some concrete suggestions that may lead to changes in policy and practice,” she said.

During the event, the foundation provided a platform for the launch of a new NGO called Network of Young Women Leaders, an inspiring group of young women from diverse backgrounds who came together to set up a support system for young women in leadership.

“Advancing feminism in Malta has rarely been more powerful than in this room right now - let’s make this International Women’s Day different,” Farrugia said, addressing a packed room of women gathered at San Anton Palace.