The Republic fo Malta is currently the smallest EU country in both population and area. Independent since 1964 (a British colony since 1814), Malta is a popular tourist destination, financial centre and freight transhipment point. Women are under-represented in government, the civil service and the judiciary (sparking conflict with the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2007). Significantly, while the Wage Gaps Between Men and Women between men and women is relatively small, female activity rate is low by European standards.
The Constitution of Malta guarantees equality between women and men. (Section 6, Constitution of Malta). Malta ratified CEDAW in 1991. In 2003, the Government introduced Equality for Men and Women Act (EMWA) which seeks to promote Gender Equality and targets discrimination in employment, sexual harassment, discrimination in advertisements discriminated against by reason of his or her sex. The EMWA also provides for the establishment of a Commissioner for the Promotion of Equality between Men and Women. Gender equality is the responsibility of the Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, the Commissioner for the Promotion of Equality for Men and Women and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality for Men and Women. The responsibilities of the Commissioner is to identify those in need of support because they were disadvantaged by reason of their sex, updating national policy, monitoring implementation, conducting domestic and international liaison, investigating omplaints and submitting proposals for the amendment of the Act.
The female activity rate is still low by European standards (at 36.6%); in 2003, approximately 50,000 women were actively employed. About 15,000 women and 19,000 men had been employed part-time. Women’s employment is concentrated in specific sectors and levels of occupation; most women work in the education, health and social services sectors. In 2002, the salary gap between men and women (hourly earnings) was only 6%, significantly below the EU25 average of 25%.
Female employees are entitled to 13 weeks maternity leave with full pay. Since 2001, a female employee who is pregnant may take an extra one-week of leave either at the start or at the end of the maternity leave. This week is unpaid.
Female and male public sector employees enjoy 12 months unpaid parental leave and a three-year unpaid career break.
Women constitute 54% of the student population at the University of Malta. However, women are not represented equally in every area of study although this is gradually changing. Whereas previously, women were concentrated mainly in the Faculties of Arts, Education and Health, large numbers are today joining the Faculties of Law, Science, Medicine and Surgery, and Economics, Management and Accountancy. The areas of study least popular with women are Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
Women won the right to vote and stand for election in 1947. Political participation of women in Malta remains low. The percentage of women in the top five scales of the public service increased from 5% in 1997 to 12% in 2000.
- CEDAW, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Combined initial, second and third periodic report of States parties. Malta (Dec. 2002)