Why Don't More Maltese Women Get Involved In Politics?

Is it the parties' fault or is it a deeper issue?

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It's no secret that Malta's cabinet is far from gender balanced. Of the 67 elected MPs, only eight are women. For whatever reason, despite global leaps forward in the fight for equality, Malta's gender divide in parliament seems to be getting worse with each election.

This disparity becomes even more evident when compared to the gender balance with Maltese MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), which has three women and three men representing us.

But what is causing this gap? Well, there are many theories as to why we still haven't reached our targets for women in politics and here are a few we hear about quite often.

1. Political parties aren't trying hard enough

One of the main arguments we see being put forward is the fact that political parties are not seen as making enough effort to have more female candidates; there can only be so many women in parliament if there aren't a lot of women contesting the elections. 

In the 2013 election only 40 of the 270 candidates were female.

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Photo: Julia Farrugia Portelli; Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms, Citizenship

2. Malta isn't exactly a shining beacon of gender equality

Others arguments about the lack of political equality consider the fact that Malta's general outlook towards the disparity between genders is pretty disheartening in all sectors, and this is reflected in our politics. 

There aren't nearly enough female CEOs locally and a nearly none of the boards of large, local companies have a good balance between genders.

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3. We're not seeing the bigger picture 

Apart from focusing on the cause of the problems, it's also good to consider the effects (and consequences) of the imbalance. 

It's important to realise that the first step to equality is making sure women's perspectives are given an equal level of importance, particularly in decision-making situations. And that's why it's completely unacceptable to only have eight women in parliament.

As things stand we cannot honestly say that we'll manage to build a truly equal society when Malta ranks at an abysmal 144th place in a study on gender equality in national parliaments.

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4. There's the same problem with our media too

The issue of the gender pay gap, as well as a lack of women in positions of power, is also very evident in the Maltese media sphere. 

2018 study by the European Parliament shows women in Malta only account for 16% of the decision makers within local media organisations.

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5. We're not looking closely at parliaments with a good gender balance

It's not just Malta's representatives that are well balanced in the European Parliament. For the most part a lot of EU nations have a comfortable division of representatives. But how does this happen?

A ERUOPP study has said that while it's not 100% conclusive, having the elections occur nationwide, with nominations by the party at large not just a few elite members, gives a better yield for more gender-balanced pools of candidates.

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Malta's own MEPs and media personalities will be looking to shed some light on these issues, what holds women back – or not – from plunging into politics and reaching the heights in the media. 

A public debate on 'Women in Politics and Women in Media' will be held on the University of Malta Campus on Friday, organised by the European Parliament Office in Valletta. This is a chance to have your say on these topics if you're looking to break into politics or want to see gender balance in our media.

The debate will be organised in tandem with the Woman's Day celebrations. It will be held in the Lecture Theatre 1 at the University of Malta Msida Campus; doors open on 02.03.17 at 11:00am.

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What do you think about the gender gap in Maltese politics? Tell us in the comments!

Written By

Chucky Bartolo

If there's no Mariah Carey GIF or reference to Eurovision in this article, just assume they've been edited out against my will.