Cover photo: Left: Josianne Cutajar (Photo: Partit Laburista), Right: Parliament (Photo: Parliament of Malta)
Labour MEP candidate Josianne Cutajar delivered a passionate speech in favour of parliamentary gender quotas yesterday, arguing that the history books will look fondly upon Malta for making such a drastic move.
“I’m not praising and supporting these measures just because I’m a woman or because it’s the feminine sex which is currently at a disadvantage,” Cutajar said at a PL rally in Mġarr. “In fact, I will be the first to support similar measures if Parliament ever reaches a stage where it has lots of women and few men, because I believe in a democracy which is truly reflective of our society.”
With Malta ranking as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to female political representation, the government has proposed a temporary system of gender quotas which will see women MPs added over and above the men who get elected as usual.
Referring to the proposal as ‘positive measures’ and not as ‘gender quotas’, Cutajar lashed out at the Partit Demokratiku for warning it will treat female politicians as tuna and send out a message that they cannot get elected on their own steam.
Malta ranks extremely poorly in terms of female representation in Parliament
“What they don’t realise is that Malta didn’t rank better than 18th in the recent Democracy Index precisely because Parliament isn’t reflective of our society,” she said. “Too much time has passed already and we have a clear mandate to take courageous action.”
She claimed the history books will judge gender quotas kindly, comparing the current “fear-mongering” against them to the Nationalist Party’s warnings against women’s suffrage back in the 1940s.
Indeed, she warned that “antiquated sexism” still reigns supreme in the Nationalist Party.
“We had the courage to introduce several changes in recent years, now let’s also have the courage to stop these people, to stop these antiquated and conservative forces which never change.”
“It takes courage to introduce drastic measures, but it is drastic measures which change history,” she said. “This is the politics of empowerment I believe in and this is why I am in this party, a party which is courageous enough to rise to the occasion and take the necessary measures when the time is right.”