By Central Bank of Malta ……
On December 1, 2017 the Central Bank of Malta issued a silver coin to mark the 70th anniversary of the coming into force of the 1947 constitution, which enshrined the principle of universal suffrage to all persons over 21 years of age. This was the first time that Maltese women were given the right to vote – a right which was exercised for the first time on October 25-27, 1947.
The granting of the right to vote to women as well as the right to stand for public office was hotly contested. Evidence of this is the fact that the National Assembly set up to draw up a draft constitution began its work on January 20, 1945 without any women representatives. Two months later the Women of Malta Association was finally admitted to the Assembly with two representatives, Josephine Burns Debono and Hélène Buhagiar.
Maltese women first exercised their right to vote in the elections of October 1947. Of the 140,703 eligible voters 54% were women. Of 76,745 registered female voters, 54,565 actually voted. Of the two women candidates, one – Agatha Barbara (1923-2002) – was elected. She would successfully contest 10 consecutive elections, be appointed cabinet minister five times, and would be the first Maltese woman to become president of the Republic in 1982. Clearly, the road to full and effective equality for women and men in Malta did not stop with the achievement of 1947. It is still an ongoing process.
The coin, struck at the Royal Dutch Mint, depicts a hand casting a vote in a ballot box. In the background is reproduced the text of the 1947 Constitution specifying that all persons over 21 years of age were eligible to vote. On the obverse the coin carries the emblem of Malta and the year of issue 2017.
The coin has a face value of €10. It is struck in 0.925 silver, has a weight of 28.28 grams and a diameter of 38.61 mm. It is struck in proof quality and the mintage is limited to 1,000 coins. The coin was designed and engraved by Noel Galea Bason.
Coins may be purchased from the Malta Coin Centre (MCC) counter at the main building of the Central Bank of Malta, Castille Place, Valletta or the MCC e-shop. The price of the coin is €60, inclusive of VAT.
For further information, the public is kindly requested to contact the MCC via email or by calling (+356) 2550 6006/7/8.