Malta ranks 13th in EU gender equality index but lacks women in positions of power

Politically and economically, women have long to go before achieving gender equality

A message for men at the 2018 Women's Day march
A message for men at the 2018 Women's Day march

Malta ranks 13th in the EU on the Gender Equality Index, scoring 65 points out of 100 at 3 points below the EU average.

Published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the Gender Equality Index measures how far the Member States are from achieving a gender-equal society.

Since 2010, Malta’s ranking has increased by five places, or 10.6 points. Meanwhile, Malta’s score increased by 1.6 points since 2018 – an increase largely driven by improvements in power representation.

Yet it’s in the domain of power representation where gender inequalities are most pronounced, with Malta ranking 19th in this area.

Meanwhile, progress stalled in political decision-making. While there has been considerable improvement in gender equality with regards to political decision-making, Malta’s ranking remains 25th among all Member States, as progress has been much faster among European counterparts.

The share of women in cabinet has remain unchanged since 2010, at a very low 15%. While the number of women in parliament is also low, only increasing from 9% to 13% in 2021, the results of the parliamentary gender quota are yet to be felt.

Despite a 4.7 point improvement since 2019, Malta is furthest away from gender equality in economic decision-making, scoring only 29.9 points.

The share of women on the boards of the largest publicly-listed companies stands at a mere 10%, up from the 2% in 2010. However, there was an improvement in the share of women on the board of the central bank, but the number remains low at 25%.

Over the years, Malta’s biggest improvement was in the domain of work. The relevant score increased from 65.1 points in 2010 to 76.8 points in 2019, moving from 23rd place to 5th in almost a decade.

This improvement was largely driven by an increase in work participation, which won Malta a 21.2 point increase.

However, the gender gap in employment remains the highest in the EU despite such large improvements. Between 2010 and 2019, the female employment rate increased from 29% to 45%, while for men this increased from 62% to 67%.

But gender gaps are more pronounced among those with lower levels of education, whereby the gender gap stands at 29 percentage points. For medium and high levels of education, the gaps stand at 15 and 12 percentage points respectively.

Improvements have been made, but Malta fell a step back on equality in education, dropping from 8th to 9th place since 2018.

This was largely driven by increased gender segregation, whereby 50% of all women university students were enrolled in feminised fields, such as education, health, welfare, humanities and arts.

In fact, in the sub-domain of gender segregation in education, Malta’s score decreased by 4.1 points.

Malta’s gender gap in enrolment is also one of the highest ones in the EU, at 23 percentage points. Since 2010, this gap widened by seven percentage points.

In the household, fewer women are engaging in care activities. In 2007, around 43% of women and 22% of men reported caring for their children, grandchildren, older people or people with a disability everyday.

Yet in 2016, 42% of women and 25% of men reported engaging in care activities, slightly narrowing the gender gap in unpaid care work.

However, the gender gap is far wider among couples with children, where 85% of women and 58% of men take on care responsibilities every day.

In health, Malta ranks second among all Member States. The country’s highest score was in this domain, at 92.3 points. The highest ranking was in access to health services, with Malta coming in first among all Member States with 99.8 points.