The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) Annual Report highlights the hard work of the Commission throughout 2017 for the enhancement of equal treatment in various sectors of society. Substantial progress has been registered. Various initiatives were undertaken to safeguard equality on the basis of the grounds covered by NCPE’s remit ranging from the investigation of complaints of cases of alleged discrimination; awareness raising; dissemination of information on rights and responsibilities and empowerment; the provision of input and contributions to policies and other documents through research; the training given to different stakeholders; monitoring the implementation of gender mainstreaming; as well as an active contribution in relation to equality in the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The investigation of complaints is a crucial aspect of NCPE’s work and the Commissioner has the power and responsibility to investigate any complaints alleging discrimination on the grounds of:
- sex/gender and family responsibilities, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, racial or ethnic origin, and gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics in employment;
- banks and financial institutions, as well as education;
- racial / ethnic origin and gender in the provision of goods and services and their supply;
- and freedom of movement for workers in the EU.
39 complaints were received in 2017, including the initiation of an ex-officio investigation falling under the ground of race/ethnic origin.
During the first six months of 2017, which were characterised by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, NCPE had the opportunity to put forward and discuss matters related to equality at a European level. Particularly, they actively contributed to the drafting of the Council Conclusions on ‘Enhancing the Skills of Women and Men in the EU Labour Market’ and their adoption, which took place in March. They worked to ensure that the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures, which was a priority for the Presidency, was placed on the Council’s agenda whereby it was re-examined and a Progress Report was presented. In addition, they assisted the European Commission in the logistics of the meeting of the High Level Group on Gender Mainstreaming which was hosted by the Presidency in Malta and we participated in the meeting with other Member States’ delegates who work on gender mainstreaming and gender equality.
Focus on Malta
At a national level, they succeeded in concluding the project Equality beyond Gender Roles that was launched in 2016. This project sought to highlight the relevance of the role of men in relation to gender equality by challenging existing gender stereotypes and emphasising the benefits of the uptake of family-friendly measures. In this regard, they worked with employees and employers participating in consultation sessions and during a Business Breakfast. An event was organised for the general public to address gender stereotypes in the Maltese language, whilst an online campaign raised awareness on these topics. Moreover, in order to challenge gender stereotypes and highlight equal opportunities from a young age, the project also brought together students as well as post-secondary and tertiary students through a series of interactive activities and events including drama, a roving van and an event on the campus of the University of Malta.
Following the general election of 2017, the government published its new programme setting out measures to tackle discrimination. In this context, they identified a number of actions that need to be taken and, subsequently highlighted priorities. In this regard, NCPE deems that research is essential to be able to provide informed and factual input and recommendations for developing policies and initiatives on various facets related to equal treatment. This work supported NCPE’s input and contributions to policies and documents on both national and international levels to ensure that equality is mainstreamed.
In 2017 they organised an awareness raising campaign on the gender pay gap, PayM€qually, to disseminate information on this topic among different stakeholders and the general public through different means of communication. The causes and consequences were highlighted including gender segregation in both education and in the labour market and the need for further empowerment of women and men. This campaign was opportune not only in view of the national commitment to implement the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ in practice, but also in the context of the rising participation of women in the labour market in Malta. Suffice it to say that, in the third quarter of 2017, the female employment rate reached 55.6%, increasing from 52.7% in 2016 and 51% in 2015. Male employment rates were 80.1%, 78.3% and 76.2% respectively.
The Equality Mark Certification entered its tenth year. This award is given to companies that enable work life balance for workers with caring responsibilities, making gender equality one of their values and whose management is based on the recognition and promotion of the potential of all women and men. In 2017 there were 80 certified organisations employing around 21,300 persons. 13 new organisations were certified with the Equality Mark in 2017, and 13 others went through re-certification.
Training is an important tool which they utilise to promote principles of equality, in particular to inform participants of their rights and responsibilities regarding equal treatment, enabling them to prevent or curb discrimination in society at large. In 2017 NCPE delivered 63 training sessions for 1,300 participants in total ranging from the public and private sectors such as officers in managerial positions and clerks, to students attending Jobsplus, MCAST and University courses.
The future of the equality body looks promising and its way forward envisaged to be stronger with a wider remit. The two draft Bills published by the then Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties in December 2015 – the Equality Bill and the Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill – are currently being discussed in Parliament. Once enacted, the Acts will restructure and strengthen Malta’s legal framework on human rights and equality by transforming NCPE into a Human Rights and Equality Commission (HREC) answering directly to Parliament with a wider remit as well as sanctioning powers.
Read more in the NCPE Annual Report 2017