More than 40,000 women joined or re-joined the workforce since 2017

Malta has historically had a very low female employment rate, with the highest gender gap in employment across the EU. This led recent administrations to make female employment a key priority, thereby raising potential output and making the Maltese economy more resilient and competitive.

The current legislature will go in the history books as one which has led to the achievement of several important records on this issue. For the first time, the female employment rate in Malta now exceeds the EU average, while Malta no longer has the highest gender gap in employment in the EU.

This reflects the success of a number of policies such as free childcare, the tapering of social security benefits and tax incentives for women who re-enter the labour market.

A reply to a recent parliamentary question sheds light on how strong the impact of these policies was. In fact, the data published in this reply indicate that 40,167 women either joined for the first time the labour force or else re-entered it since the beginning of 2017. This means that everyday 29 women went into employment.

The bulk of this increase, over 27,000, was in full-time jobs. In fact, the increase in full-time jobs was more than double that observed in part-time jobs. This contrasts with previous years, when the bulk of increase in female employment tended to be in part-time employment.

“The increase in full-time jobs was more than double that observed in part-time jobs.”

Another interesting finding is that only 5% of the increase in female employment was in the public sector. A change from previous trends as more women worked in the public sector in jobs such as nursing and teaching. It is quite clear from the information tabled in Parliament that besides a rise in overall employment, there has also been a very diversified spread of employment across sectors, particularly in the private sector.

Moreover, notwithstanding the pandemic, there has been a significant improvement in labour market opportunities for women. In fact, the daily increase in the number of working women stood at just below three-fifths of the average increase observed in the previous three years.

Number of women who entered for the first time or else re-entered the labour market


2017 7,023 4,197 10,655 565
2018 8,418 3,903 11,761 560
2019 8,180 3,460 11,091 549
2020 * 3,628 1,358 4,657 329
Total 27,249 12,918 38,164 2,003

* Data available only until September

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