Malta’s female participation rate linked to overall low education attainment

Malta’s overall low of educational attainment among women has been identified as a reason why Malta’s female participation rate in the labour market is the lowest among other small European member states.

The finding emerged from a report published in August 2012 that examined the labour market participation of women in small European Member States, including Malta, alongside that of other small European Member States.

Education was found to be a major determining factor that affects the rise of the rate of female participation in the labour market - especially among smaller European Member States.

In 2011, Malta's female participation rate stood at 44.1%, generously outranked by Estonia (71.5%), Cyprus (66.8%), Slovenia (6.5%), and Luxembourg (60.7%).

The finding surfaces at propitious time. Both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party are tousling over can best incentivise the most women to join the work force, with the 'free childcare' proposal being the most noteworthy so far.

Malta's recent downgrade at the hands of credit agency Standard & Poor's also underlined the need to address Malta's overall dissatisfactory female labour participation rate, which S&P said is hampering Malta's economic growth prospects.

The report, titled 'The labour market participation of women in small European Union Member States', found that the participation rate of women "is increasing faster that that of the larger member states", and that "a higher education level is related to a higher participation rate of women in the small Member States".

"The higher the educational attainment, the higher the female participation rate," the report affirms in no uncertain terms.

The reasons for this, the report notes, are several. Women who pursue and invest in their education are more likely to go to work, even if to recover the cost of their education investment.

Highly-educated women, who would rake in larger figures, are also more inclined than others to go to work specifically because of the income they would otherwise miss out on where they not to work.

This is, the report says, aside from the fact that high levels of education increase the chances of employability and success, "especially in today's highly competitive labour market and in the context of an economic slowdown".

The report particularly points towards upper secondary attainment as "an important indicator for measuring progress in the area of education in a country."

The report also notes, "persons attaining a low educational level are more likely to be inactive", describing this as a "relationship that applies irrespective of sex and age across the EU".

The report notes that in 2011, that as many as 68.6% of Maltese women from 15 to 64 years only achieved lower secondary level of education. It also notes that there were also only 14.1% of women who attained a tertiary level of education.

"This, in part, may explain the low participation rate of Maltese women in the labour market," the report says, adding that in 2011, the female activity rate was only 44.1%, "the lowest among small Member States".

Despite registering a solid increase in its female participation rate from 2004 to 2011, going from 36% in 2004 to 44.1%, Malta still lags behind other small European Member States. The biggest increases took place from 2006 onwards, when it went from 36.5% to 44.1%.

With regards to the rate of education attainment among females, Malta performs best in lower secondary level, with 68.6% of women reaching this level. Tertiary education attainment fares far worse, with only 14.% of Maltese women reaching this level, while only 17.3% of Maltese women reach Upper Secondary level.

"Given the large number of women of working age with a low level of education, especially in Malta, it implies the need for stronger policy measures to address early school leaving in order to boost school completion," the report warns.

The report also notes that the gender gap in the activity rates of the five SMS considered "indicates that here is still an imbalance between men and women in the sharing of domestic and family responsibilities, with the result that women more often than men opt for part-time work or even give up work altogether."

It recommends that an equal distribution of childcare and other caring responsibilities could enable equal opportunities in employment, and urges the use of support measures such as maternity, paternity, parent and/or other family related leave so that that stereotypical gender roles are not reinforced.

"In this context, promoting and enabling an active role for father in childcare is essential," the report says, adding that in Sweden, equality bonuses are paid to encourage mother and father to share their parental leave more equally.

The report also notes that according to the EU LFS in 2011, "the main reason for female inactivity is family responsibilities," and that according to a report on gender equality by the EU Commission (2011f), "childcare facilities are still in short supply in most Member States."

"The provision of high-quality, affordable, and accessible childcare is a vital step in offering parents, and especially women, a genuine choice to work." 

Poor education? No, can't be. GonziPN has been constantly bragging about the quality of education under his tribe.