Malta continues to have the largest gender employment gap across EU member states, despite progress in encouraging more women to enter the workforce.
New figures released by Eurostat today showed that while Malta has one of the EU's best male employment rates, with 83.1 per cent of men aged between 20 and 64 in work, just 55.5 per cent of women within that age range are employed.
The 27.6 percentage point gap is the worst across the EU, with only Italy (-20.1 percentage points) and Greece (-19 percentage points) coming close to the local gap.
Malta can take comfort from the fact that although its gender employment gap is worse than that of its two aforementioned Mediterranean neighbours, that is only the case because of the high percentage of local men in work, with both Italy and Greece registering lower employment rates than Malta for both genders.
Also encouraging is that Malta is now just 0.4 percentage points from reaching Europe 2020 employment targets - something a quarter of all member states have achieved.
Malta's 2020 target is to have 70 per cent of its working age workforce in employment by that date.
The employment rate represents employed persons as a percentage of the population in the same age group.
Eurostat data showed that the gender employment gap - defined as the difference between male and female employment rates - is smallest in Lithuania (-1.9 percentage points), Latvia (-2.9 percentage points) and Finland (-3.3 percentage points).
There is no EU member state which has a larger percentage of working age women in employment than men.
Across the EU as a whole, the gender employment gap was at -11.6 percentage points in 2016 - a significant decline from the -17.3 percentage points registered the previous year.
Employment rate of those aged 55 to 64
The employment rate of people aged between 55 and 64 continued to grow steadily in 2016 in the EU as a whole, to reach 55.3 per cent. In 2002, the rate stood at just 38.4 per cent.
In Malta, the employment rate for this age group reached 44 per cent in 2016 from 40.3 per cent the previous year, with increases for both men (+2.9 percentage points, to reach 61.7 per cent) and women (+4.4 percentage points, to reach 26.3 per cent).
Malta's 44 per cent overall rate remains on the lower end of the EU spectrum, with just five member states faring worse. Fifteen member states have more than half their population aged 55 to 64 in employment, with Sweden (75.5 per cent), Germany (68.6 per cent) and Denmark (67.8 per cent) having the highest rates.