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Bernard Grech: ‘This Quota Bill Isn’t Enough To Help Women Overcome Hurdles To Parliament’

Opposition leader Bernard Grech said that the gender quota bill being discussed in Parliament isn’t enough to help women overcome barriers to political life.

“We’re a parliamentary group that believes this law is a step in the right direction. However, it’s not going to solve all the barriers women face to get involved in politics,” he said, addressing the House this evening. 

It’s not just about getting elected, Grech added, saying that additional measures must be put in place to encourage more women to contest elections, by providing more support before and during their political careers.

“Women in Malta are expected to juggle a career, domestic work and raise a family at the same time. We need to support them by introducing serious family measures,” he continued.

Government has already introduced several family-friendly measures including childcare and moving Parliament to an earlier time.

Notably, Grech said, his party will be proposing some measures to compliment the bill, including making Parliament a full-time job.

“Like this, we’ll not only have more capable women in power but more capable men too, who can make this political life their profession,” he said. 

A historic bill to bring more women into the House of Representatives is currently being debated to address the gender deficit. 

If passed, a gender corrective mechanism would kick in if less than 40% of MPs are women or gender-neutral people, with up to six seats for both the Nationalist Party and Labour Party. If a third party were to be elected, it would also benefit from added seats.

Currently, just 13% of MPs are women and just four women make up the Cabinet.

The bill has split public opinion, with some arguing it may lead to the tokenisation of women, as those with as little as 20 first time votes could automatically ascend to Parliament if it kicks in.

Minister for Social Inclusion Julia Farrugia Portelli, who helped draft the document during her time as Junior Minister for Reforms, argued that the bill won’t impinge on people’s democratic choice for candidates, because women who would take the extra seats won’t replace MPs who would have otherwise been elected.

Prime Minister Robert said he was in favour of the proposal, addressing Parliament yesterday, even suggesting that the system could benefit men in the future.

What do you make of the bill?

READ NEXT: Gender-Neutral Candidates Will Also Stand To Benefit From Malta's New Quota Bill

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