Digitalisation: The road to equality

Gozitan MEP Josianne Cutajar is pushing for a digital Europe because she believes it paves the way for a more inclusive and socially just world. She talks to Sunday Circle about the journey that led her into politics – to make a difference

As a young girl Josianne Cutajar loved to head to the village bookshop to spend the pocket money her
grandmother gave her.

Fast-forward a few years and the young MEP still has  the same passion for learning new things and opening her mind to new worlds and ideas. The difference is that now, she is working to expand the world of others too – through digitalisation.

My long-term goal has to be universally accessible services through digitalisation.

I entered politics to make the world a better place and to fix the injustices that make it less favourable to some of us,” the 30-year-old Labour MEP says.

I don’t expect any disability to impede a person’s access to any service, in this day and age. We are seeing digital means making teaching more inclusive, improving diagnostics and treatment of patients, as
domestic violence and other crises are simulated to step up law enforcement.

There is a growing global market for automated vehicles which to some might represent luxury, but they may render mobility to others who are otherwise unable to move,  she adds.

This may sound like tech talk, but Cutajar says, it’s something that impacts people’s daily lives:

Virtually everyone has a smartphone, a profile on social media and is constantly connected. We have come to depend on digital tools to work. Digital policy covers all this.

I pushed to add responsibilities to digital platforms, apps, we use all the time. They have a duty to be transparent about the services they offer, how they advertise and price services.

I worked on artificial intelligence and automation.
Robots are here today, and we hold them in the palm of our hand. We are feeding personal data to those devices, and they are learning more and more about us every day.

People’s privacy matters,” she says.
Cutajar was elected to the European Parliament a year ago. Being entrusted to negotiate several dossiers to accelerate Europe’s digitalisation is one of her highlights.

In the past year she was also involved in the field of tourism, as a TRAN Committee member and a member of the Tourism Taskforce, elevating the concept of sustainable tourism on the European agenda. But her
world was not always so vast.

From Gozo to Europe Cutajar was brought up in Nadur, Gozo, with her two brothers and sister. “I remember visiting my paternal grandmother, listening to wartime stories and playing hide and seek with my cousins. The village bookshop served as a window to a wider, fascinating world I never got tired of peeping into,” she recalls.

Now she spends her week, from Monday to Thursday, at the European Parliament and returns to Malta, and Gozo, for the weekend to meet constituents, local stakeholders and loved ones.

I love spending down time simply breathing in fresh air in my favourite spots in Gozo. These days I appreciate simply having a chat over a coffee in my mum’s kitchen.

On extremely busy days I don’t have this privilege and have to grab food quickly and rush to the ferry.

This was not the future she always imagined. As a child Cutajar wanted to become a teacher to positively
influence people’s lives. This same desire eventually steered her towards law – and then politics.

I always believed in activism and that it’s useless complaining about something without involving yourself directly to change it.

It took some initial encouragement and faith from within the administration of the Labour Party to finally take the leap and contest the local council elections for the first time, at the age of 22, while still a law student,” says Cutajar who went on to serve as a minority leader of Nadur for seven year.

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