[WATCH] Lydia Abela’s mission: providing a platform for the voiceless

Interviewed on TVM’s Xtra Sajf, Lydia Abela identifies solitude as a problem overlooked by politicians and says she will send her daughter to school when they reopen

Lydia Abela
Lydia Abela

Lydia Abela wants to use her public role as the Prime Minister’s wife to raise awareness on issues like solitude that politicians often overlook.

Drawing on studies that showed how solitude was a widespread problem, Abela said she wanted to use her platform to help the voiceless.

“I think that we should listen to these people, to see what is leading to them feeling so alone,” she said when interviewed on TVM’s Xtra Sajf.

Asked about her personal foray into party politics when she was cast into the role of Labour Party executive secretary in 2010, Abela said she had accepted the challenge because she wanted to be part of the change.

She also wanted to be an example and encourage more women to enter the political realm.

“At the time, and unfortunately even today, there aren’t enough women participating in the political realm, and we see this reflected in the lack of female representation in our parliament,” she said.

Abela said that juggling political activities with her career and role as mother was possible because the family duties and responsibilities were divided with her husband, Robert.

“Just as I’m a mother with a daughter, a man with a position and career is also a father – he also has the same responsibilities that I have. I believe that when a couple carry the weight together and recognise that the children are the responsibility of both of them, then everything will become easier,” she said.

Since January, Abela has parachuted into a more prominent role after her husband won the PL leadership election to become prime minister.

This brings with it outright criticism and adulation but Abela insisted that ultimately people in such positions have to learn to take such flak and praise in their stride.

“You are aware that the role will attract certain criticism, and you accept it. Neither criticism nor adulation should distract you from your focus of reaching your aim, to remain 100% concentrated on what you want to do and the results that you want to achieve,” she said.

Asked about that period in December when her husband decided to throw his hat in the ring and contest the leadership, Abela said it had come down to a choice between giving up or standing up to be counted. 

The Prime Minister’s wife explained that the decision had not been an easy one, coming as it did in the wake of two months of street protests, and in a tense and turbulent atmosphere. But she said her husband could not stand back while knowing that he could step in and make a difference.

“Robert is the type of person who isn’t going to stay back if he believes that he can truly make a difference,” she said, adding that the impact of his work was felt immediately with the country returning to stability within a few weeks. 

Asked how she manages to shield her daughter from the ugly side of politics, Abela argued that she does not see any ugliness in politics, and that she attempts to teach her daughter how to rise up to challenges within any sphere, not just the political one.

On the government’s handling of the pandemic, Abela said this was a situation with no manual to follow.

“As a family we suffered the same stress, fears and problems of other families when it first struck but the results achieved so far put Malta in a good place, because we also managed to save jobs,” Abela said.

And there will be no skipping school for the Abelas’ daughter when they reopen in a couple of weeks’ time.

“I will undoubtedly be sending my daughter to school and she’s very eager to start because she’s been missing from school for the past six months now,” she replied.