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Fake feminism from a fake government

Dr Anna Borg
Dr Anna Borg

Anna Borg, the director of the Centre for Labour Studies and an academic who commands respect in her field, came under heavy fire by the ‘Equality’ Minister for an interview she gave to The Times.

In the interview, Borg maintained that women work for free for more than a month every year because of the gender pay gap, and that things will only get worse if corrective action is not taken.

She referred to statistics on the pay gap in Malta, which rose from 4.5% in 2014 to 11% this year. This means that for every 100c a man earns, a woman gets just 89c. In other words, after November 19, women in Malta will be working for free for the rest of the year, Borg said.

Barely two days later, the spokeswoman for the Equality Ministry Paula Cauchi penned a blistering, albeit illogical, attack on Borg in a ‘right of reply’ that started with the words: “The government begs to differ”.

It developed into a raging rant which in no way addressed the concerns raised by Borg about women in the labour market. What Borg said was not an opinion, but facts based on NSO statistics and academic research.

Cauchi felt it imperative to remind readers that more than 20 years ago: “Borg was a councillor, an electoral candidate and the secretary general for women within the Nationalist Party. Besides, while the PN was in government, she led the gender equality section within ETC”.

Rather than provide answers or lay out the government’s vision, Cauchi attacked the messenger – a tactic we are familiar with under this administration. Her message was to be wary of Borg’s opinions, the insinuation being that since they do not paint her boss Helena Dalli in a good light, Borg must have hostile, ulterior motives.

Does past involvement in politics mean that the opinion of an expert is by default skewed or in bad faith?

By the same token, we would have to discount the opinion of a great many experts.

By the same token, we should disregard anything Dalli, Cauchi’s boss and on whose behalf Cauchi penned the letter, says since Dalli herself is a politician. It is also surreal that Dalli, one of the key mentors in the LEAD programme being run by the PL to increase the number of women in politics, should criticise another woman for her previous involvement in politics.

By the same token, we should disregard anything Cauchi herself says: she was a newscaster with the Labour Party’s One News, according to her public FB profile. Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported that she had been sent for a training course by the Labour Party to the Communist Party of China’s “leadership training academy”.

Her father is Gino Cauchi (ex-CEO of the Labour party, ex-Labour MP, and now the CEO of the Grand Harbour Regeneration Committee). You can’t get any more partisan than that.

paula-cauchi

By the same token, we should disregard the judgments of members of the judiciary who have had strong political affiliations prior to joining the bench.

So, should we put into question the recently appointed Chief Justice’s impartiality because he was a candidate for the Labour party? Or the impartiality of magistrates and judges such as Wenzu Mintoff, an ex-Labour MP, whip and editor of the Labour rag Kulhadd; or magistrate Joseph Mifsud, who occupied the post of International Secretary of the Labour Party and who worked for a long time on the Labour Party’s official newspaper Kullhadd, and had a regular programme on the PL-owned TV station;  or judge Toni Abela who occupied the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and who also had a regular programme on Labour TV station Super One?

With Cauchi’s argument, the judgements of these members of the judiciary cannot be regarded as impartial. If Cauchi thinks we should question their impartiality because they had political affiliations in the past, I do not.

Borg noted in a recent social media post: “Malta currently occupies an embarrassing 93rd position out of 144 countries in the Gender Equality Index issued by the World Economic Forum. This position is lower than that occupied five years ago (in 2013) when Malta was ranked in the 88th place. Likewise, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) noted that Malta has not even reached its halfway goals (48%) in relation to equality between women and men. If this was an exam, Malta would have failed the test.”

As long as the Equalilty Minister of “the most feminist government,” as the Labour Party likes to call itself, chooses to bury this truth by attempting to discredit a respected academic, women will continue to carry the burden of her failure. In her blind, knee-jerk reaction to valid criticism Dalli missed the point that those she is really insulting are those she is meant to be protecting and empowering.

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