The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day, when we celebrate women’s achievements whilst recalling the challenges that women are still facing on the road to equality. The aim of this day is to acknowledge inequalities, rally and push forward demands to achieve gender equality. It also brings people together to commemorate all those who have fought to overcome the barriers that persist in society. This year’s theme is #balanceforbetter, which focuses on advancing gender equality in business and politics. It emphasises gender equality as not just an issue that affects women but that affects business as well, because balance is key for economies and communities to thrive.
There is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in Malta. The Global Gender Gap Report published annually by the World Economic Forum ranks Malta at 91 out of 149 countries for gender balance in 2018. In the political sphere, Malta scores very badly and ranks 155 out of 191 according to the IPU ranking site. It fails to meet the international average with only eight female MPs being elected in 2017 out of 67 seats, a paltry 11.9%. This number is surpassed by countries such as Liberia, Egypt, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Malta does not fare well in the business sector either. According to the most recently published data by Eurostat for 2017, Malta had the highest employment gap in the EU with 24.1%. The results measured the employment rate of males and females between the age range of 20 and 64 in European Union member states. Moreover, on average, the gender pay gap in Malta stands at 11% and is wider in certain sectors such as the financial sector.
In this context, women from migrant backgrounds, who may already face a huge number of hurdles to employment and representation due to their status, can be especially disadvantaged. It is important that no woman is left behind in the push for equality and that all voices are heard in the dialogue.
New solutions are essential to remove structural barriers and bring about a change in the system so that women and girls achieve their rightful place in society. This can only be done by working together, empowering each other and moving forward for a more equal future.
Article by Kaye Vassallo