The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Much more to be done to get more competent women into the workforce – minister

Giulia Magri Friday, 1 March 2019, 17:16 Last update: about 4 years ago

“Whilst the government and private companies are working towards more family-friendly measures, there is still a lot more we have to do to get more competent women into the workforce,” Equality Minister Helena Dalli said yesterday.

Dalli was opening a public debate on equal protection of rights for both men and women. The event which was held at Verdala Palace, is one of several events related to Women’s Day, which is celebrated on 8 March.


Dalli said it is important to have both female and male perspectives for society to thrive and improve. She said that it is when all people, regardless of their sex, age or race are able to have the opportunity to discuss that society will be able to thrive and flourish. 

The discussion on reaching a balance between personal and social life is one which applies to everyone, but especially to the female figure since the responsibility of the family still falls heavily on the woman, she said.

Right now the Government is pushing for more opportunities for parents to have a more equally balanced work and personal life, with the introduction of the breakfast club initiative and providing childcare free of charge for working parents. She said that such a balance will also have an impact on economic growth throughout the years.

The minister said, however, that whilst there are measures which may help women, there are still many who cannot benefit from these initiatives and are not able to participate in the working force due to financial or social reasons.

She said that the Ministry is working for more direct equality in the workplace, to improve the gender pay gap, for both sexes to have the same access to education and work opportunities and to decrease discrimination in the workplace.

She also appealed for more women to take up decision-making positions, saying that these women are protagonists in society. 

Also attending the debate were three members of European Parliament; David Casa, Roberta Metsola and Francis Zammit Dimech, the Commissioner of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) Renee Laiviera, Anti-Poverty Forum Secretary Andre Bonello and the President of the National Council for Women, Mary Gaerty.


Work-life Balance Directive an investment in families - Casa

David Casa spoke about the WWork-LifeBalance Directive which, he said, is an investment in Maltese and Gozitan families. He said that the European Pillar of Social Rights is to provide equal opportunities and social protection for all European citizens. He said that many Member States still focus on traditional gender roles, such as the women having the main role in the upbringing of the family.

Statistically, there are more women graduating from University, but many women do not continue to search for a better career, or face the issue of the gender pay gap.

He said that, through the directive, Maltese men will have ten days of paternity leave, which they could enjoy to the fullest with their children, thus helping with the upbringing of the future generations.

He said that parents have every right to flexible working arrangements, and that both women and men shall have equal access to leave so that they can fulfil their responsibilities of care. “This gives women the opportunity to remain and excel in their career and also enjoy time with their family.”


Much more needs to be done for there to be equality in society - Dalli

Although not present during the actual debate, MEP Miriam Dalli spoke, through a video, about the advancement of women. She praised those women from previous generations without whom men and women today would not be benefitting from the progress made by society.

She said that there is still progress to be made, not just for women, but for all citizens to live in a society which promotes equality and equity.

It is these women and men who will educate and raise the future generations with the message that everyone has the same equal rights and opportunity.


Gender quotas are not helping our cause – Metsola

MEP Roberta Metsola said that “the notion of quota-imposed token women does not help our cause, but holds women back and simply creates new barriers for the next generation of women to overcome.”

Metsola said that the focus should be on giving women the opportunity to excel in their careers, especially if they are returning from maternity leave. There are currently funds and opportunities abroad for women to re-apply for educational courses to improve on career skills to ease their transition back to the workforce which, according to Metsola, is something which Malta should also invest in.

Metsola said that there is a need for a shift in Malta to encourage females to take the initiative to represent a role in society, whether it is an economic, social, cultural or political role.

MEP Francis Zammit Demech also said that there must be a greater discussion on equality between both genders on a national level.

The Commissioner of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE), Renee Laiviera, said that the Commission works towards looking after the rights of males, females and those individuals who might be seen as a minority.

She said that the Work Life Balance Directive is to strengthen women to be truly treated equally, especially with regard to employment, where in certain cases women are treated according to their biological roles rather than their qualifications.

“There needs to be a balance in responsibility between parents for the women to have a balance of family and work duties. We must decrease the income difference between men and women.”

She said that, at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to equality in society.

The President of the National Council of Women, Mary Gaetry, spoke about the feedback the council has received from its training courses. She said that such training courses give women the opportunity to come together and learn new skills to improve their current situation and to learn more about their social rights.

She mentioned different ways in which people can learn more about their social rights, such as by holding more public discussions and exhibitions to promote people’s work.


35 out of 100 separation cases are in risk of poverty, especially women

Many women who go through separation are at a high risk of facing poverty, said Andre Bonello, Secretary of the Anti-Poverty Forum.

He said that women between the ages of 25-55 today are more and more at risk of poverty, and in certain cases, these women would come from a middle-class background and require an education but would struggle financially.

When looking at the housing situation, over 1,000 people seeking social housing are separated.

Bonello asked why there are so many women who are graduating and yet cannot afford to advance in their studies, or women who work overtime yet cannot afford housing. 

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