‘Malta could eradicate digital sector glass ceiling’

Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri launches Women5IT initiative and insists the local digital sector could see the first breakthrough in putting women on par with men


If addressed properly and imminently the domestic digital sector could be the first sector where Malta could see women truly on par with men, parliamentary secretary for digital economy Silvio Schembri said yesterday

“As a country, we have improved a lot within the digital space, now becoming a main point of reference, yet we are still lagging behind in women participation,” said Schembri.

He was speaking during the launch of the Women4IT initiative a European funded project aimed at increasing the numbers of girls and young women in the digital agenda. Moreover, Women4IT also aims at structural transformation of the labour market due to the growing digital society in which there are significantly fewer women than men.

Schembri explained that the lack of women’s participation within the ICT sector is a scenario that is being experienced across the EU member states.

As numbers clearly show, in 2017, the gender employment gap amounted to 11.6 percentage points across the EU, with a 76.9% employment rate for men and 65.3% for women. To reach the Europe 2020 target of a 75% employment rate for both women and men, particular attention needs to be devoted to the labour market participation of women.

Schembri said that the aim of the project was to design and experiment an innovative employment solution for women in the digital jobs sector.

“This European funded project will serve as a springboard which will see the insertion of a hundred young women into digital jobs through the provision of awareness-raising, training and employments related to digital job opportunities”, said Parliamentary Secretary Schembri, whilst adding that this will be done through the participators’ engagement strategy with stakeholders and employers to support the ambitions of these young women.

Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Aaron Farrugia said that this project was a significant one in which Malta is partnering with a number of other countries, including Norway, which is the largest donor country within the EEA through Norway’s financial mechanisms.  He said that the amount of Norwegian funds have increased from €3 million to €8 million in this programming period, and are focusing on reducing socio-economic disparities in Malta.

“The programme will help us provide digital skills to young women as part of our holistic plan to decrease the number of school leavers and continue with a programme of retraining, reskilling, and upskilling the Maltese workforce.”

Farrugia urged beneficiaries of this programme to continue to explore further opportunities through EU-funded programmes, such as investing in skills, access to employment, the VASTE programme.

“This is an exciting time for women. After registering a spike in the number of women elected to the European Parliament, I look forward to the next legislature to see the fruit of the positive measures being taken locally to increase the number of women in the Maltese Parliament”, said Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia, adding that government is providing a number of initiatives and incentives to ensure that women can move from welfare to workforce, even through European funds.

Dana Farrugia, CEO at Tech.MT, said that although the success and fast evolvement of Malta’s digital economy is satisfactory, the risk of exclusion is real, and it must be ensured that no one remains on the outside looking in on technological evolution.

“It is encouraging to see the government fully committed to reducing the digital divide and organisations coming together today to support this collaborative framework. Thanks to this commitment we can ensure that women and young girls are truly allowed to decide their future and regain their destiny”, she concluded.

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