Malta’s gender gap remains among the worst in Europe – World Economic Forum

The disparity between men and women in Malta – particularly in terms of economic opportunities, health and leadership – remains glaring, both at European and global level, confirms the latest global report on the gender gap. gender published by the World Economic Forum.

Globally, Malta ranked 85th out of 146 countries, falling one place since 2021 and climbing five places since 2020. The main factors contributing to such a wide gap are reproductive autonomy, wage disparity and female representation in leadership roles.

Among European countries, Malta ranked 31st out of 35 countries, ahead of Hungary, Romania, Cyprus and Greece.

Malta ranked 31st in Europe out of 35 countries. Source: World Economic Forum report

Globally, the countries ranked higher than Malta are the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Poland and Botswana.

A deeper dive into the categories contributing to the overall result shows that Malta’s weakest point is in the health and survival category (106th place globally). The report notes that when it comes to reproductive autonomy, men and women have unequal rights. Although not stated in the report, it is likely linked to Malta’s strict abortion laws, which last June forced an American tourist to be flown to Spain to terminate an unborn pregnancy. viable.

The country also scored poorly on economic participation and opportunity (89th) and political empowerment (82nd). Conversely, Malta ranked 1st, along with 20 other countries, in the “level of education” category.

In the political empowerment category, Malta ranked 123rd out of 146 countries for women’s parliamentary participation. The research was conducted ahead of the 2022 general election, which saw an increase in parliamentary representation thanks to the controversial gender mechanism.

When it comes to economic participation and opportunity, Maltese women continue to experience a significant wage disparity. While the estimated earned income for men is $49,040 (€48,082), that for women is $30,880 (€30,277).

Additionally, the report shows that while male legislators, senior civil servants and executives make up 71.48% of the workforce, women in the same positions make up 28.52%.

With regard to education, Malta has more women than men in secondary (+0.27) and higher (+21.92) education.

According The report, in 2022, the global gender gap was 68.1%. At the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. Iceland, Finland, Norway and New Zealand occupied the top spots in the rankings with the smallest gender gaps.

Women’s employment status, a risk factor for psychological violence

A separate report on psychological violence and coercive control published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in July indicates that the professional status of victims and perpetrators in relationships may be a factor risk factor for emotional abuse and cites research in Malta as an example.

While a study in Spain found that women’s economic dependence on their partner can hinder their ability to leave a relationship, a study in Malta, entitled “Intimate Partner Violence: Psychological and Verbal Abuse during Pregnancy” revealed that unemployment, in the case of the pregnant woman or the partner, is a predictor of psychological violence against the woman in the relationship.

The report also notes how, in some EU countries, a lack of understanding of what constitutes emotional abuse is also widespread. In Malta, a study based on interviews and focus groups with victims of emotional abuse and professionals found that cultural factors led to a lower level of awareness and understanding of emotional abuse, reducing the likelihood that victims report these crimes to the authorities.

The report notes, “This research suggests that female victims do not understand what constitutes emotional abuse and/or coercive control. Although increased criminalization measures are beginning to be put in place, “there is still a long way to go”.

As it stands, the statistics are “piled up in grim reality”, EIGE said, with data from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) showing that in the EU, 44 % of women have experienced psychological violence from a partner in their lifetime. .

The Institute defines coercive control as “a strategic course of oppressive conduct typically characterized by frequent but low-intensity physical abuse and sexual coercion in combination with tactics to intimidate, degrade, isolate, and control victims”, and violence psychological as “any intentional course of behavior that seriously harms the psychological integrity of another through coercion or threats”.

Melvin B. Baillie