[WATCH] Government to start discussion on women’s political representation quotas

Prime Minister says government has a mandate to implement quotas for women’s representation in parliament, could come into affect in this legislature if agreement reached with Opposition

The government will soon start discussions of what type of quotas system for women's representation in Parliament to use, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said
The government will soon start discussions of what type of quotas system for women's representation in Parliament to use, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said

The government will in the next few weeks start discussions on what system of quotas for women’s participation in Parliament should be adopted, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

Addressing a Nisa Laburisti conference today, Muscat emphasised that the government had a political mandate to introduce quotas, since this was included in its electoral manifesto for the June 2017 election, and the people had said with their vote that they were in favour of a quota system.

“Unfortunately right now we are hearing discussion either for or against quotas. But the people have already decided that they want them - so what needs to be discussed is how we are going to introduce them,” he said.

Muscat maintained that the Opposition’s cooperation would be needed for this to happen, since the Constitution would have to be amended.

“A quota system should be in place for the next election. If we manage to reach an agreement, on what type of corrective measures to take, during this legislature, then it will be implemented during this term,” he said, remarking that he hoped the Opposition would not be conservative on the issue and would avoid making the argument that it was not the right time for such systems.

Gender pay difference increased, but more women now working

Eurostat figures have shown that the difference between what men and women are paid in Malta is less than the average difference in the European Union, the Prime Minister said, with Malta ranking 7th and having an 11% difference.

“This is still unacceptable,” he stressed, “For every €100 a man earns, a woman only makes €89.”

He maintained that between 2011 and 2016, the difference in pay increased, but said this could be explained because previously less women used to work, and those who did generally held relatively high ranking jobs, hence a smaller difference in salary to that of men.

“But we managed to bring a societal transformation. For the first time in an entire generation, women from lower social strata are now entering the workforce,” he said, “At first these women were, on average, occupying low-end jobs, leading to an increase in the pay gap.”

Malta had now arrived at the second stage, he said, and this will entail ensuring the right of workers are upheld, and pushing for them to hold more dignified jobs.

Muscat said Malta already had the tools in place disallowing discrimination in the workforce, and what was needed now was more enforcement.

“It has been illegal to pay a woman less than a man since the 1970s. However, this is the first time we are making use of the [legal] tools we already have - we need to introduce a culture where there is not a hint of discrimination between men and women,” he added.

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