Statement on Gender Quotas Bill

Volt Malta believes that the low representation of other genders in the House of Representatives is a serious concern however disagrees that the gender balance mechanism is the best way forward and will not address the democratic deficit in Malta’s policymaking system.

Jan 17, 2021

As highlighted by the Gender Balance in Parliament Reform consultation document, women’s under-representation has impacted Malta’s EIU Democracy Ranking and undermines our overall reputation as a progressive and forward-thinking country. Despite previous commitments by political parties to increase the participation of women in politics, out of 67 members of Parliament, just 9 are women. It is time we take the necessary binding steps to remedy this flaw in our political system.

Volt Malta echoes concerns that this mechanism will not be effective in isolation. However, we also recognise the importance of this initial step forward, and urge the government to complement these efforts by prioritising and addressing other issues impacting the participation of women and other genders in politics. 

Volt Malta welcomes initiatives to support women contesting the Maltese general elections through increased child-care services and the option of a full-time position with maternity leave. We believe that if Malta is to have the best candidates contest elections, then MP positions should be paid sufficiently and treated as a full-time occupation. This would extend to offering MPs paternity leave and re-scheduling sessions at a time which would enable both fathers and mothers to fulfill their family duties. These are crucial ingredients for attracting qualified candidates of both sexes. 

Volt Malta is also concerned that the proposed mechanism is not inclusive to when third parties enter Parliament. Volt sees this is a serious oversight, as it is wrong to assume that Malta will always only have two parties in Parliament, and if it has more, then this mechanism will not be needed.

We believe that we should take this moment to reflect on and correct other issues in Malta’s electoral system. Volt Malta would welcome a more diverse Electoral Commission which is also representative of all genders. 

Additionally, we propose the introduction of gender parity in electoral lists. This would improve the diversity of candidates from whom voters can choose to be in parliament. It would be complementary to Malta’s STV voting system, and would minimise the reliance on the post-election corrective mechanism faster. 

Volt Malta also proposes changing the current ballot sheet template from one which lists candidates in alphabetical order to one which alternates between genders.

Finally, Volt Malta also calls on the government, all political parties, civil society and the public to, with a united front, tackle the unacceptable misogyny and abuse which female politicians in Malta are disproportionately subject to.  

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