Gender pay gap is still prevalent despite the change in mentality and the increase in the female participation rate registered in recent years. Newly-elected National Council of Women President Doreen Borg Zammit sounded this warning when interviewed by Voice of the Workers Weekly.

“The issue has been dragging for years and it does not seem that a solution is close,” she remarked while pointing out that this disparity has also lingered across EU member states.

“Notwithstanding the increase in awareness, there are still cases whereby women are entering the labour market right now, who are doing the same exact job and have the same qualifications as men, but are being paid less,” the NCW President added.

The disparity at times is created when women take a break from work to look after their children or to take care of a close relative. “If the family becomes a burden, more often than not it is the woman who must sacrifice her job,” she said.

Borg Zammit has been active in the NCW for many years. Her venture into this lobby group started after she had been nominated by UHM and never looked back.

Prostitution reform

The Council which is represented in the Civil Society Committee within the Malta Council of Social and Economic Development has been very vocal about government’s plan to decriminalise prostitution. In late 2019 together with 40 other organisations they had presented a common position to both Government and Opposition in which they expressed themselves in favour of the so-called Nordic Model. Under the latter the purchase of sex work is criminalized, and sale of sex work is partially decriminalised. (Typically, sex workers can sell their own services, but auxiliary services, such as pimping, brothel-keeping, and third-party advertising remain illegal.) The main objective of the model is to decrease the demand for sex work by punishing the soliciting of sexual services to decrease the volume of the illegal sex industry overall.

“We wanted to make our position clear in the wake of the fact that the Government wants to adopt the German model which is a complete decriminalisation of prostitution.” Such position had been taken on the strength of reports and research as well as the input of academics. Moreover, she said that in Germany itself there is growing pressure to shift towards the Nordic model.

No position yet on abortion

Asked on the issue of abortion, the NCW president said they would be taking a position in due course on the strength of the various implications involved. “This is a double-edged sword, and we will wait for the issuance of an internal report before pronouncing ourselves.”

Apart from these issues the NCW supports women through educational courses on digitalisation, entrepreneurship, and IT. They also work to address certain pension anomalies, especially women who do not qualify for a proper pension due to missing social security contributions. Such circumstances are often the result of career interruptions to raise children or else being employed in a family business whereby such contribution had been overlooked.

The Council is also actively involved in public consultations about Bills and other subjects of interest, and submits its Budget proposals each year, just like any other social party.