Although Rita Sammut only received 20 first-count votes on the fifth district at the last general election, she would have nevertheless found herself elected to Parliament if the proposed gender quota system was in place two years ago.
Contacted by Lovin Malta, the former PL candidate endorsed the proposed quotas but refused to state whether she would have made use of them if they were in place at the last election.
“It’s a hypothetical question and I can’t say what I would do,” she said. “I don’t even know whether I’ll contest the next election or not.”
Sammut said she fully agrees with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s take on the lack of female participation in politics, that a shock to the system is necessary to boost the number of women MPs.
“If we want more women in Parliament, we’ve got to do something about it,” she explained. “Why not now? When will the time ever be right? I’m a capable person in my own right and I’ve carved my own path in life, but somehow it’s different in politics.”
“I know there are capable women out there and indeed there are more university female graduates than male ones, but history has shown us that women don’t usually get elected.”
Malta is currently one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to female representation in Parliament, with even the likes of North Korea, Libya and Russia scoring better. However, this is reflective of the few women who contest elections in the first place.
Indeed, 15% of all female candidates were elected in the last general election, compared to 19% of male candidates. Contrarily, 50% of female candidates and 8% of male candidates were elected to the European Parliament in the 2014 MEP election.
According to the proposed law, political parties will be financially incentivised to recruit, train and promote female candidates but won’t be obliged to present gender-balanced candidacy lists. If the under-represented sex obtain fewer than 40% of the seats, a ‘gender corrective mechanism’ will automatically kick in. This will be capped at a maximum of 12 seats, which will be equally divided between the PL and the PN.
It would have worked wonders for the likes of Sammut who, as the only unelected woman PL candidate on the fifth district would have automatically got elected.