There is still no real gender equality in Malta - Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that women in Malta were at the most risk of poverty, and this had to be addressed

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was speaking on Sunday at the Labour Party's Pieta club
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was speaking on Sunday at the Labour Party's Pieta club

Despite the laws guaranteeing equality in Malta, there to date does not exists a situation where both men and women are equal, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Addressing party faithful at Labour’s Pieta club on Sunday, Muscat said that although, due to the government's initiatives, Malta had gone from a situation of being last in Europe when it comes to the number of women in the workforce, to now being more or less like the average country, a lot more work had to be done.

“We believe that we have to help ourselves improve, and this is what we did in the employment sector. Had we not had the will to do so, we could never have achieve such a drastic improvement in female workforce participation.” This was done through measures such as childcare, he noted.

He said that the gender pay gap was still growing - despite more women starting work - was due to the fact that women were being paid either the minimum wage, or slightly less.

“This shows there is a degree of gender in poverty… it is women who are most at risk of poverty. And this is a big obligation on society,” he said.

He said it was the government’s duty to address this situation.

“Equality exists only on paper. And if it is not us to deal with this - considering that the conservative forces in the past did not even want women to vote - who will? Equality can only be achieved when there is the right political will,” he added.

He also underlined that, due to the government’s nominations to the judiciary, over half of judges and magistrates are now women.

George Vella chosen for his qualities

Turning to the matter of the president, Muscat said George Vella was chosen as Malta’s next president not because he comes from the Labour Party camp, but because of his flawless track record and personal qualities, Joseph Muscat said.

He said that the Opposition’s claims that the government had lost the chance to nominate a president from the opposite political camp were not sensible, since Vella was chosen because he was the best person for the job his integrity.

“I was very happy to hear that, when Vella’s nomination was announced, there was a general agreement in the country about his good qualities and integrity,” he said, “He spent almost 40 years in politics, and absolutely no shadow was ever cast on him… He was one of the few politicians to have never sought power.”

Muscat noted that when Vella was offered the leadership of the Labour Party “on a silver plate”, he had declined to take on the role. “These are qualities which will allow him to give an essential contribution to the nation. I am also pleased that the Opposition will be voting in favour of his nomination, so, once more, Parliament will unanimously approve the head of state.”

Muscat said that it was the parliamentary group’s last consideration which party the president came from. “We looked at the qualities of the person. Just as we did when we chose George Hyzler to leader the public standards commission… Despite that fact that Hyzler was nominated by the Opposition, we knew that he was the best person for the role, and accepted the Opposition’s nomination.”

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