Gender quotas for Parliament look set to be implemented in time for the next general election, with a bill passing its penultimate hurdle this evening.
The landmark bill was approved by Parliament’s Consideration of Bills Committee today and will now go to a vote in the House, where cross-party support is required seeing as it will require a change to the Maltese Constitution.
It shouldn’t be a problem though, as both the government and Opposition have come out in favour of the bill in principle.
“We look forward to reaping the fruit of this law in time for the next general election,” said Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, who had spearheaded this bill when she was Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms.
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.