Hillary Clinton may well become the first woman President of the United States. Through her nomination for President of the U.S. Clinton broke the glass ceiling.
But beyond the race for the White House, and despite the former First Lady’s remarkable achievement, balancing work and family life is a challenge for many parents.
As mothers of young children aged 18 months, and 7 months respectively, ours is a first-hand experience. Both of us happen to be lawyers in self-employment. Adding political commitments to the equation makes it even tougher.
It is hard to believe that in 2016 we still experience the not so occasional stigma associated with women in politics. Our participation in political life is at times frowned upon, interpreted as egoistical ambition, not least by people who should know better. This stigma shall remain as long as women are still under-represented in our Parliament, political parties, and institutions and in most sectors of our society.
Despite talk to the contrary, parental responsibility is still associated with mothers, whilst paternal paid leave provisions are lacking. Although maternity leave has increased over the years, (18 weeks) bringing up an 18+ week old baby in a household where both parents are in employment is a daunting task.
The more obstacles we face, the more determined we are to fight for change. But it’s no mean feat. Admittedly, we do have our moments of guilt and doubt. There are days when equality and equal rights seem like an ideal that will never happen.
There are positive moments too. Women who, despite the odds, succeeded in their career and family life and who inspire us to work harder.
Unfortunately, we encounter hardships and grief too. Home visits reveal the silent wounds of our society: women who have suffered domestic violence for several years in silence with no help at hand. Others are made to feel useless because they could not bear children; women who spent their lives caring for their family at home but their work is not appreciated; mothers who left hospital empty handed, and feel that no one can understand their hidden grief; single mothers who feel hurt when they hear people labelling them as abusers of our social services system while doing their very best to provide for their children; young couples whose marriage failed and they feel helpless; promising young women whose dreams for a successful career are ruined by an employer who in this day and age still views woman in employment as a long-term risk. These are but a few of the everyday realities that we encounter as politicians. Unfortunately, very few politicians write about these experiences.
As female candidates we strive to be the voice of many women who remain unrepresented in our Parliament and in policy-making institutions. Many, unfortunately do not question this and when voting hardly think about how a more gender-balanced and diverse Parliament could change their lives for the better. As young mothers we are committed towards ensuring that our children shall have equal opportunities irrespective of their gender.
Research conducted by the United Nations reveals that as of August 2015, only 22% of all national parliamentarians were female, a slight increase from 11.3% in 1995.
Recent initiatives taken by the Nationalist Party have increased the participation of women in its structures, but electing more women requires a collective effort in addressing the cultural and invisible hurdles that keep us from breaking through the glass ceiling.
*Roselyn and Alessia are lawyers and general election candidates on behalf of the PN
Call Out: Recent initiatives taken by the Nationalist Party have increased the participation of women in its structures, but electing more women requires a collective effort in addressing the cultural and invisible hurdles that keep us from breaking through the glass ceiling.
This article was first published on The Times of Malta on Friday 26th August, 2016