The Malta Independent 19 December 2018, Wednesday

Women’s issues are not a priority for government - Association for Gender Equality

Thursday, 8 March 2018, 09:34 Last update: about 11 months ago

It is crystal clear that women’s issues are not a priority for government, the Association for Gender Equality said.  In Malta, gender equality between women and men has been left on the back burnerfor far too long, and this is unacceptable.

In 2013, the current government made a pledge to be the most feminist government in Malta. Yet five years down the lineis this really happening?

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Things are actually getting worse, the association said.

Malta currently occupies an embarrassing 93rd position out of 144 countries in the Gender Equality Index issued by the World Economic Forum. This position is lower than that occupied five years ago (in 2013) when Malta was ranked in the 88th place.

Likewise, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) noted that Malta has not even reached its halfway goals(48%)in relation to equality between women and men. If this was an exam, Malta would have failed the test

 

Why are we in this position? A4E we would like to raise grave questions that demand serious answers:

Victims of violence are not a priority

Why did it take the government four long years to change the Maltese laws in order tocome in line with the Istanbul Conventionin order to protect women who are experiencing violence and domestic violence?

Is the plight of women who are victims of violence less important than other laws which were fast tracked?

On the issue of violence on women, not only has Government so far  failedto implement the Istanbul Convention, it has also failed in equipping our institutions with the necessary tools to fight violence on women and to set up prevention structures. With the current attitude towards violence on women the prospects look bleak. In the meantime, women continue to be re-victimised by the institutions who fail to protect them and who often fail to acknowledge the economic hardships they go through, especially at a time when the rent rates are at their highest.

 

A toothless Equality Commission

In 2013, the Minister for Equality Helena Dalli noted that the current legislative framework that sets up the National Commission for the Promotion for Equality (NCPE) had limitations.  Five years later we still have the same set up. Thecurrent commissionhas limited powers and resources and it does not seem to have a strategic plan withclear targets and benchmarks. Furthermore,most of the members on the commission are not experts in the area of gender equality.  What is the excuse for this situation? Is the government happy with a commission that does not bite or challenge it?

 

The Gender Pay Gap doubled since 2014 and little is being done to tackle it.

Until 2014 the Gender Pay Gap in Malta was4.5 %. Five years down the line this has more than doubled and the gap has now increased to 10.6%.  This suggests that the women entering the labour market are largely occupying low paid jobs.What action plans are there in place for thegovernment to tackle the situation?  Without any plan in sight the gap risks increasing.

 

Going around in circles on the issue of quotas and the representation of women in parliament

In the last 70 years the increase in women in parliament has been an unremarkable0.07 annually and today 85% of our Parliamentarians are men.  Debates on quotas abound but then nothing much happens to change things on a national level.  The labour party took care of its needs by creating the LEAD programme to encourage more women into politics, but what about at the national level?This should not be a party issue but a national one.

 

Government does not even bother to appoint enough qualified women on its own boards

The number of women in government boards remains abysmally low.  This means that government lacks a policy to make a difference where it can influence the composition of its boards.   60% of the university graduates are females and more females now obtain a Masters and PhD degrees than men.  So if government really wants to choose persons on the basis of meritocracy, it should definitely include more qualified women. There is no shortage of them so what is stopping government from leading by example?

 

The flourishing of the sex trade in Malta

Women’s organisations in Malta are making it clear to government that they are against the opening up of the sex industry in Malta.  The most feminist governments across the world -Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland - have adopted the Nordic Model towards prostitution. 

What is stopping the government from taking this approach? 

Under the previous and the current government, massage parlours that offer sex as an additional extra, have been mushrooming at an alarming rate and little is known of what is happening in terms of abuse and trafficking. Likewise, Strip Clubs in Paceville have been left to operate in a location where youngsters congregate and where a woman’s body continues to be sold as if it was an object.

Is the government happy with this situation? How is government planning to tackle the abuse and the objectification of women?

 

Family Friendly Measures reporting

Until 2014, thegovernment regularly issueda family friendly report to track the uptake of family friendly measures in the Public Sector.Why was this report halted?  Are family friendly issues not worth tracking and reported upon by government? Are there any plans to re-establish this annual report?

 

Conclusion

A4E deplores the ‘laissez faire’ attitude adopted in relation to gender equality in Malta and notes that this has serious consequences on women’s lives and that of their family and subsequently on the country.

A4E appeals to thegovernment to give priority to these issues because too much time has been wasted already.

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