International Women's Day 2019

PRESS RELEASE - International Women’s Day 2019

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2019, the Association for Equality (A4E) reiterates that the path to full equality between women and men in Malta is still long and winding. Much more effort is needed to reach this goal.

Maltese women still suffer rampant discrimination at work and the wage gap is on the increase. Maltese women are highly under-represented in top positions within businesses as well as in politics. Furthermore, evidence shows that far too many women suffer sexual harassment at work.

On the home front, women still carry the lion’s share of unpaid work in the family. Dreadfully, a quarter of women suffer abuse and violence and some are actually killed by their partner. Despite the introduction of the new legislation which allows the police to proceed against the abusers in cases of domestic violence (even without the consent and testimony of the victim), the police still seem reluctant to do so and women are still not taken seriously when reporting such crimes. To make matters worse, aggressors often get away with it or simply get a slap on their wrist.

Finally, massage parlours that also offer sexual services continue to mushroom across more towns and villages and yet little is known about the well-being of the many women who work there.

For this reason A4E reiterates that:

1. The issue of the wage gap is tackled more seriously with concrete action being taken by government to ensure more transparency and accountability within companies.

2. The issue of sexual harassment at work is given more attention to ensure that those who harass others are adequately punished.

3. The police are given more training on how to deal with cases of domestic violence and action is taken every time such crimes are committed - even when the victims are too scared to report and/or take action.

4. Political parties need to have systems in place to ensure that equal number of women and men are presented on the electoral lists, to allow the electorate a wider choice of candidates from both genders.

5. Government needs to work to encourage more fathers to take up paid paternity, paid parental and paid care leave, so that families are better supported and the work related to the family is more equally shared between the parents.

6. Government needs to seriously look into massage parlours that are also offering sexual service in order to ensure that vulnerable women and young girls are not being trafficked, exploited or abused to work in these outlets.

7. In line with the Nordic Model, the prostitution reform should include a three pronged approach that criminalises the buying of sexual services, decriminalises the selling of sexual services and provides support exit strategies for prostituted persons.

8. Priority should be given to sexual and relationships education that promotes mutual respect in line with the principles of gender equality.

A4E will continue working this year to ensure that gender issues are given the importance they merit and are placed higher on the political agenda.

Background photo by Alessio Lin

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