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President: “It Will Take 269 Years To Achieve Gender Equality In Parliament”

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The President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has written an impassioned letter on gender equality to mark her third year in office tomorrow. Equality has always been a priority for the President, and she’s worked tirelessly on several campaigns. Here are some of the highlights from her speech.

60 years ago, Agatha Barbara became the first-ever Maltese female Minister. It took us another 43 years for a second Maltese female Minister to be appointed. 30 years ago, Agatha Barbara reached the end of her term as the first-ever female President of Malta. 

It took us 32 more years for a second Maltese female to be appointed as Head of State. 2017 commemorates a number of significant historical milestones in the participation of women in public and political life. This year should serve us as a reality check.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca

However, after 70 years, since the introduction of universal suffrage in this country, female representation in the Maltese Parliament still stands at only 13%. This is far less than the gender parity our society deserves. 

If this rate of progress is maintained, it will take us another 269 years to achieve gender parity at the highest policy-making and decision-taking institution of our country. We cannot afford to remain complacent. This state of affairs dictates effective positive action, as a transitory measure to achieve gender equality and equity.

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Photo: Jason Borg

There is a dire need to change outdated and unjust attitudes and to create a conducive environment for women to feel empowered to participate in public and political life. Our political parties must be proactively involved to ensure the right attitude, environment, and opportunities for more women to reach the higher echelons of party structures.

We need an overhaul of our Parliamentary system, whereby we ensure that the right balance, between family life and public life is struck. We need a family-friendly Parliament, with the necessary facilities to match. Furthermore, our educational system needs to be further enhanced, to nurture both our girls and boys in democratic participation.

Our politicians have a responsibility to be a shining light for our young women and men to be encouraged to aspire to serve our nation.

Malta President

On the occasion of my third year in office, and during the months preceding general elections, I feel duty bound, to reiterate my Women’s Day appeals.

I urge our political leaders, to take this important opportunity to ensure, through positive action, that the next legislature will be a significant milestone to reach true and effective equality for Maltese society. Achieving a much higher rate of female participation, in the political life of this country will ensure that Maltese society will be justly represented.

The setting up of “The Network of Young Women Leaders”, gives me hope for the future. I am sure that these young, courageous women, coming from different political allegiances, who came together to stand up for themselves and others, will hopefully, with many other young women joining them in the future, and with the genuine support of emancipated men, create the necessary awareness in our society to ensure a sustainable equal gender representation. 

We must do more to challenge the attitudes that perpetuate gender discrimination and stereotyping, which hinder parity and equity. I sincerely believe that this can only be achieved if women are present, in sizeable numbers, across policy-making, and decision-taking positions.

We cannot wait 269 years for gender parity to be achieved in this country.

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READ NEXT: Depressing Statistics About The Gender Pay Gap In Malta By Industry

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