The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

The budget does not mention anything about the gender wage gap - Claudette Buttigieg

Monday, 28 October 2019, 13:48 Last update: about 8 months ago

The budget presented by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna two weeks ago contains no initiatives for women, be they working or at risk of poverty PN MP Claudette Buttigeg said in Parliament.

Buttigieg highlighted that the budget does not reflect the issue of the gender pay gap.

Referring to two reports, one issued by the National Statistics Office and the other by the World Economic forum, she said that the two reports conflict with one another. “We have one report saying that women are still earning much less than men in the EU, but another report highlights that more women in Malta are graduating and this is a huge contradiction in our country.”

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She explained that whilst statistics show that the number of female students enrolling in education has increased, many women are still at risk of poverty or social exclusion. She said that women in the age bracket of 65+ were the most vulnerable, and those who were separated, or widowed are at a higher risk of poverty. “The government is not providing initiatives or opportunities for these women, especially women who are unemployed and this budget has nothing for these women.”

She said that many women are facing poverty in what is known as “the best of times” and yet the budget mentions nothing to address the problems. She said that the government provided a Gender Equality Frame Work document, which is only four pages long and is a very vague document.

Buttigieg then discussed the issue of trafficking and prostitution and how the government initiated a discussion on regularising and decriminalising sex work.

 “What does this discussion entail? Will we be discussing what countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand are doing? Or will we be discussing the measures taken by France and Canada? There are many directions we can take, but I find it strange how there is disagreement amongst ministers and that the government’s position on the issue is still not clear.”

She said that it is important to not reinvent the wheel, but to see what other countries are doing and to discuss these issues.

She also said that there is a lot of criticism on the lack of licences for massage parlours, “which is a strong indication that it is a huge source of human trafficking.”

Equality is at the centre of Labour’s politics: Edward Zammit Lewis

Equality Minister Edward Zammit Lewis highlighted that equality is at the centre of the government and has been central in Labour policies since the beginning of the administration. “In 2013, the Labour government presented amendments to the Civil Code for transgender people to be considered as individuals with full rights and the right to marry; this shows the party’s credence in equality.”

He also pointed out that the first female President, Agatha Barbara was appointed under a Labour government and the second, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was also under a Labour government.

“We believe in gender mainstreaming, to provide positive measures which are applicable to both men and women,” explained Zammit Lewis. He said that the government has provided free childcare and other measures to give women the opportunity to join the workforce. He said that women must take necessary decisions and that they must feel economically settled to be able to sustain themselves and their families.

On the note of gender pay gap, Zammit Lewis said that the government has and will continue to work on this issue. He pointed out that the Istanbul Convention was an extremely important instrument in the fight against domestic violence, and he questioned why the Leader of the Opposition voted against such an important convention.

“We cannot be afraid to discuss the topic of prostitution, and the Labour Women group will be publishing a report on regularisation. There are a number of consultations and proposals provided, and in the end we must take decisions on this issue,” said Zammit Lewis.

He said that the government cannot keep waiting for society to change and transform, but the government must take the necessary steps and provide the legislations to safeguard those who are at risk of abuse, hate speech or attacks.

 

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