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Title: The road to women’s suffrage and beyond : women’s enfranchisement and the nation-building project in Malta
Authors: Sammut, Carmen
Keywords: Women -- Suffrage -- Malta
Women -- Malta
Women's rights -- Malta
Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Malta
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Central Bank of Malta
Citation: Sammut, C. (2017). The road to women’s suffrage and beyond : women’s enfranchisement and the nation-building project in Malta. Malta: Central Bank of Malta. 9789995787561.
Abstract: Although there is little doubt that Maltese women emerged from World War II with a stronger awareness of the intolerable gap between their potential and the harsh reality of their social condition, the road to 1947 began early in the first half of the 20th century and certainly did not end in 1947. As a matter of fact the journey has by no means ended; indeed it continues. The struggle for universal suffrage in Malta, and specifically for the vote for women, cannot be understood separately from the country’s social, cultural, economic and political development. The debates inside the National Assembly (1945-1946) reveal the sharp confrontation of views in favour and against the right to vote for women. Indeed, a very significant element in the National As- sembly fought tooth and nail to prevent women’s very presence in the National Assembly. Contrast this with Dr Paul Boffa’s proposal to enfranchise all men and women over the age of 18. Finally, the National Assembly voted 145 for and 137 against for universal suffrage at age 21. A motion by Josephine Burns de Bono and Hélène Buhagiar (who had to strug- gle to be allowed to participate in the National Assembly as representatives of the Women of Malta Association, the third woman being Mabel Strickland who was admitted as the representative of the Times of Malta) for women’s right to stand for public office, was also passed. It is pertinent to recall that the Women of Malta Association was founded early in 1944. Within a few months the Association twice requested the National Congress for representation in the National Assembly. Twice it was turned down. The Women of Malta Association’s request was finally accepted in 1945 by the National Assembly. These achievements became law with the promulgation of the 1947 Constitution in September 1947. The first elections under the new constitution took place on 25-27 October of the same year. 54% of the 140,703 persons eligible to vote were women. Around 75% of the electorate turned out to vote. Of 76,745 registered female voters, 54,565 actually voted. Of the two women candidates, one – Agatha Barbara (1923-2002) – was elected for the Labour Party. She would successfully contest ten consecutive elections, be appointed cabinet minister five times, and would be the first Maltese woman to become president of the Republic in 1982. With the issue of a €10 silver coin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the achieve- ment of Maltese women’s right to vote, the Central Bank of Malta continues a tradition of issuing coins to commemorate important constitutional developments (see First Elected Representatives 1849 issued 2011, Majority Representation 1887 issued 2012, Self-Government 1921 issued 2013, Independence 1964 issued 2014, Republic of Malta 1974 issued 2015). Dr Carmen Sammut’s study The Road to Women’s Suffrage and Beyond: Women’s Enfranchisement and the Nation-Building Project in Malta is a significant scholarly contribution to counter what she correctly calls “the prevalent collective amnesia about women’s place in history”.
ISBN: 9789995787561
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtIR

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