A landmark gender quota bill has been approved after it received cross-party support in a vote held in Parliament earlier today.
Prime Minister Robert Abela hailed the decision as a “historic” and a step forward to achieving gender equality.
— Robert Abela (@RobertAbela_MT) April 14, 2021
Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar also took to social media to celebrate the passing of the bill – something which she has been campaigning for while she was Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms.
“A historic moment in the Maltese Parliament as the government and opposition voted in favor of a bill aimed at strengthening representation in the highest institution of our country,” she said
Cutajar is currently is suspended from Cabinet pending an investigation into her property business dealings with the accused mastermind of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder Yorgen Fenech. She had temporarily resigned her post as Parliamentary Secretary as a result of the revelations.
“Any reform will bring resistance, but I look forward to continuing to explain its importance in the coming month,” Cutajar continued. “Our children, especially those girls, will find Parliament more open and representative and will thank us for being brave enough.”
Earlier this week, the bill passed its penultimate test after it was approved by Parliament’s Consideration of Bills Committee.
Its approval means that Malta’s constitution will change to reflect its intentions.
This bill will introduce a ‘gender corrective mechanism’ that would automatically kick in if the lesser represented gender gains under 40% of the total seats.
Currently, just 13% of MPs are female.
Up to 12 seats, split evenly between PL and PN, would be added for women or gender-neutral people who failed to get elected in the first round, to ensure a minimum 40% representation of the underrepresented sex.
This mechanism will only apply if MPs from two political parties are elected, with the government shooting down an Opposition request to extend it to third parties.
It has a 20-year sunset clause, after which it will automatically expire.
Proponents of the bill argue that it’s necessary to boost female participation in Maltese politics, which has been consistently low over the decades, while critics warn it will undermine democracy and tokenise women.
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