“Before going in for a parliamentary session, I often ask Louis [Grech, MEP] if he’s put on his turban, as we’re like the Taliban,” Prof. Scicluna joked, adding it was “embarrassing” for the country that it had no female MEPs.
Prof. Scicluna was speaking at a public dialogue meeting organised by the European Parliament office in Malta in collaboration with the National Council of Women. The subject was women in public life.
The Labour MEP said there was something wrong if from a 50:50 ratio of men and women at university, “somehow, something happens and glass ceilings and obstacles hinder women from getting into public life”.
Prof. Scicluna said a possible solution to this impasse would be to introduce some form of a quota system which would enable Parliament to better represent the population.
Speaking to The Times, Prof. Scicluna said northern European countries had applied quota systems with great success and they “did not let the culture change and await the result. They were proactive”.
One such system would entail having two ballot papers, one for male candidates and one for female candidates, the MEP said.
Speaking at the same seminar, Marlene Mizzi, an entrepreneur and former Labour candidate for the European Parliament elections, was wary of systems such as this, saying they might “backfire” on the gender. “If women who are elected to a post through a quota system make a mistake, as humans tend to, the failure will not be attributed to them personally but to the gender as a whole,” Ms Mizzi said.
She also blamed culture for hindering women’s ascent to power. This could be changed, she said, by having co-educational schools where students would learn to respect members of the opposite sex as their equals.
The former Sea Malta chairman said the secret to success in public life was not to make an issue of being a woman but to make the difference into an asset, not a hindrance.
“Women can do everything men can do; but we can do it backwards and on high heels,” Ms Mizzi told the audience.
Frances Camilleri-Cassar, who had carried out a study on female participation in local politics, said that since 1951, the percentage of women in Parliament had not changed significantly.
US Ambassador Douglas Kmiec, of Polish descent, made reference to the air crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski as well as to the 1931 Katyn massacre, saying it would be a similar loss for society if women were not represented in all spheres of public life.
Rather than use an automatic term such as “quota,” Prof. Kmiec suggested it should be looked at as a form of “outreach” to sectors of society that would otherwise be overlooked.
Prof. Kmiec said that while it was probably true it was a man’s world, “a man’s world is a pretty lonely and unfulfilled world – please don’t leave us alone”.
– timesofmalta.com : Monday, 19 April, 2012