Family lawyer Nickie Vella de Fremeaux has come out swinging against the proposed gender quotas mechanism for MPs, warning they’re anti-democratic, as well as humiliating and insulting to women.
“I wouldn’t want anybody to give me a parliamentary seat or any other job just because I’m a woman because I’d find it insulting to just fill up a quota,” Vella de Fremeaux said during a debate on L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa tonight.
“MPs should represent the rights and interests of the people, and not be any old person who the people don’t trust and is only there to satisfy a quota.”
She also argued that it’s a global fact that women aren’t as interested in entering politics as men, quoting Hillary Clinton as saying she was attacked in her failed US presidential campaign because people weren’t used to seeing women in the political scene.
Chamber of SMEs CEO Abigail Mamo agreed with Vella de Fremeaux, describing the bill as “regressive” in that it risks sending out the message that women and men aren’t equal.
“It’s like carrying out invasive surgery when only minor surgery is needed,” she said. “We must address problematic areas – why can’t Parliament sittings take place in the morning and why can’t MPs be full-timers? We must address those barriers, rather than play around with out democratic system.”
Parliamentary secretary for reforms Rosianne Cutajar, who is spearheading the proposal, disagreed and said the measure – which she insisted was a positive mechanism and not a quota – is necessary to ensure women are adequately represented.
“I got elected but I’m the exception; for every woman who makes it to Parliament, ten more don’t, and that isn’t only a defeat for themselves but a defeat for society.”
“Women aren’t a minority group, we have a democratic deficit and I’m not ready to wait anymore for it to fix itself. I entered politics to make a positive difference and just as others paved the way for me, I’m ready to pave the way for others.”
Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia said the reason such quotas are necessary is because society “failed”.
“I’m sad to see that our society has failed so much that legislators must introduce quotas. The problem isn’t the electorate but the political parties, men who work in politics and our political infrastructure.”