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Historic Gender Quotas Bill Will Be Tabled For Second Reading Today As Maltese Parliament Resumes

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A bill to lure more Maltese women into politics through gender quotas will be tabled and discussed today as Parliament resumes after Winter recess.

Spearheaded by Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms Rosianne Cutajar, the bill includes Constitutional amendments to ensure more of the underrepresented sex make it to the House of Representatives ahead of the next general election. Gender-neutral people are also included in the definition of the underrepresented sex. 

It was tabled just before the pandemic forced Parliament to stop, and will now face its second reading.

At the centre of the bill is a gender correcting mechanism, which would see a maximum of 12 seats added to Parliament for women if they make up less than 40% of the House after an election. 

Currently, just 13% of MPs are female.

In the current parliamentary scenario, the Labour and Nationalist parties would get six seats each, which would be taken by women who failed to get elected on the first round of the electoral process.

If a third party were to be elected, they would also benefit from the corrective mechanism.

Both parties have endorsed the bill, but questions arise as to whether it could lead to the tokenism of women. A study done by Lovin Malta found that women with less than 20 first count votes could make their way to the House should the bill pass.

However, the authors of the bill argue that political representation is not about merits and competence.

“It is about representing the people,” the document proposing the gender quotas reads. “Political representation is about rights and justice. How can the fact that men occupy more than 80 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the world be justified?” 

It’s clear that the government is keen on bringing more women into power, with a recent Cabinet reshuffle proving to be the most representative of females in Malta’s history.

But even then accurate representation remains an issue. Just three of Malta’s twenty ministers are women, while four make up the 26-person Cabinet.

For a detailed breakdown on the proposals of the gender quotas bill, check out Lovin Malta’s analysis here.

What do you make of the bill? Comment below 

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