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MALTATODAY 9 June 2019

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 JUNE 2019 NEWS MASSIMO COSTA THE small business chamber GRTU has come out against a proposal for gender quotas to increase the number of female MPs in the House of Repre- sentatives Describing the proposals as "not the way forward for fe- males interested in politics", the GRTU said the gender cor- rective mechanism would lead to the appearance of equality, when the real hurdle facing women were MPs' salaries. "The gender corrective mechanism is not what fe- males or anyone else inter- ested in politics needs. What is needed is a real chance to make this opportunity a re- ality. Current conditions for MPs force them to dedicate their life to politics and setting aside full-time career aspira- tions and their families," the GRTU said. "This is the real hurdle keep- ing not just women but all valid individuals that want to choose to be active and present in their families and pursue a career that will help them not to struggle financial- ly. It is inhumane to ask from our MPs to stay at work be- cause their pay at Parliament just cannot sustain them, then, after work hours, be an MP and dedicate him/herself to politics and then also be an active parent." GRTU CEO Abigail Mamo said women were usually the primary carers in their fam- ily, which made choosing a life where they would be away from their home most of the time more difficult. "This problem affects women most- ly because traditionally they are the primary care givers and that is a reality. There- fore, choosing a life where they have to be most of the time away from their family is, of course, harder. What will the gender corrective mecha- nism fix in this regard?" Achieving a gender balance "cosmetically" through a cor- rective mechanism was not what women in society de- serve, she said. Instead it said MPs' remu- neration should reflect their responsibility, while parents required that the hours of Parliament reflect their ob- ligations and to have child- minding support introduced. "The problem is not the voter. The gender corrective mechanism will be applied to correct voters' choice when the voter is not really biased against women. Statistics show amply that voters vote for women. In the last general election voters voted for wom- en in almost the same propor- tion they voted for men. 19% of all men on the ballot paper and 14% of all women on the ballot paper were elected. "If one had to look into greater detail in the numbers, the discrepancy is less than 5%. The situation is markedly different with the members for the European Parliament elections. In the last two EP elections the voter choices for women surpassed greatly the choice of males; by 20% in the latest EP election. Where is this big discrepancy that will necessitate doctoring the composition of our parlia- ment?" the GRTU said. Mamo said there was "noth- ing more demeaning than be- ing the token female", point- ing to her own experience. "I work in what was tradi- tionally a male-dominated environment that today has changed a lot in this sense. I am in my position based on merit and have had to prove myself like anyone occupying such positions. I cannot im- agine what it would have been like for me personally to be placed in my position just for being female," she said. "Apart from feeling ridiculed I would have had a tough time proving my worth and chang- ing people's perception of me that I am not just female but al- so worthy in occupying my po- sition. I am no exception, I am only proof that the society we live in has changed and women are not prejudiced against as they used to be in the past." GRTU against 'demeaning' quotas that make women token MPs There is nothing more demeaning than being the token female – GRTU chief Abigail Mamo GRTU CEO Abigail Mamo (left), "I work in what was traditionally a male-dominated environment... I am in my position based on merit and have had to prove myself like anyone occupying such positions" MASSIMO COSTA ALTERNATTIVA Demokratika has proposed a 2.5% vote threshold to en- sure that third parties have a chance of being represented in Parliament and for electoral lists to contain a gender bal- ance of candidates. In submissions made on the last day of the government's consultation period for its proposed parliamentary gender corrective mechanism, AD said that the problem of representation in Parliament has a singular cause – the fact that the electoral system itself isn't representa- tive. AD said that it had repeatedly pro- posed that Article 52 of the Constitu- tion be emended so that a party which reaches a threshold of 2.5% of first count votes is assured representation in Par- liament which corresponds to the votes obtained. It reiterated its suggestion that there be a 2.5% vote threshold for a party to be guaranteed representation in Parlia- ment proportional to the votes obtained in a general election. Moreover, it proposed that parties be obliged to submit lists of candidates to the Electoral Commission which are balanced when it comes to the genders of those on the list. Despite various constitutional amend- ments meant to ensure that both Malta's biggest parties are proportionally repre- sented in Parliament according to the percentages of votes obtained in an elec- tion, legislators had failed to make any provisions for a third party to be elected to the House of Representatives, AD highlighted. When it comes to gender equality, AD went on to say that it was important that there be a balance in Parliament among all genders. "The balance needed is not only that between men and women, but those who do not identify as male or female should also be included in this exercise," AD highlighted. The best way to address the gender imbalance in Parliament is for parties' electoral lists to be balanced in terms of gender, AD said, both when it comes to men, women and also those who don't identify as male or female. Voters would then vote for parties, not individuals, and candidates would then be elected in the order established in the electoral list. This should be a requirement for the list to be accepted by the Electoral Com- mission, the party said. "AD thinks this is the most practical way of ensuring that we move towards a gender balance in parliamentary rep- resentation. The electorate will be asked to vote for a party and not for an indi- vidual candidate. Candidates will then be elected in the order set out in the lists presented by the political parties them- selves," it said. AD added that the lists could be drawn up on a district or national basis. AD on quotas: first a 2.5% national vote threshold Greens say imbalance in Parliament must be countered by parties presenting' electoral lists that are balanced in gender

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