Prime Minister Robert Abela hopes that one day, so many women participate in Maltese politics that a gender quota will be needed to bring more men into Parliament.
This was said as a bill to lure more women into the highest positions of power was presented in Parliament today.
At the core of the bill are constitutional amendments that would see up to twelve seats added in the House of Representatives for the “underrepresented sex” ahead of the next general election.
“The time for discussion is over, now is the time for change. If there is one thing that is consistent in Parliament, it is the lack of women in power. This gender correcting mechanism will address this lack.”
“I hope that one day, we’ll have so many women in Parliament, we’ll need to discuss a gender quota bill for men,” Abela said, addressing the House.
If less than 40% of Parliament is made up of women after an election, the mechanism would add up to six seats for the Labour and Nationalist Party. In a parliamentary scenario where a third party is elected, it would benefit from the mechanism too.
Currently, Malta’s political representation of women is inarguably poor, with just 13% of MPs identifying as female.
“We need to send a clear message that in a year’s time we will have more women making political decisions. I hope to see more women in this room,” he said.
Abela admitted he had certain reservations against the bill, but soon realised it’s necessary to give women a little push.
“The stereotypes against women must change – but we know this won’t happen without effective measures. Today, we’re going to be catalysts for change in this country,” he said.
With the bill, people who identify as non-binary will also be eligible to head to Parliament on the added seats. It also has a sunset clause which would expire in twenty years.
“Hopefully, the bill will be made redundant before its expiry,” the Prime Minister added.
Both parties have endorsed the bill, but questions arise as to whether it could lead to the tokenism of women and whether it amounts to the tampering of democracy. A study done by Lovin Malta found that women with less than 20 first count votes could make their way to the House should the bill pass.
However, the authors of the bill argue that political representation is not about merits and competence.
It’s clear that Abela’s government is keen on bringing more women into power, with a recent Cabinet reshuffle proving to be the most representative of females in Malta’s history.
But even then accurate representation remains an issue. Just three of Malta’s twenty ministers are women, while four make up the 26-person Cabinet.
For a detailed breakdown on the proposals of the gender quotas bill, check out Lovin Malta’s analysis here.
Do you agree with Robert Abela’s vision?