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Live news: Italy remains behind in the EU when it comes to women’s employment

Employment among Italian women lags behind their male counterparts and remains at the bottom of EU rankings, underscoring the challenges facing the country’s first female leader.

The employment rate for men increased by 1.7 percentage points during the year to 69.5 per cent in October, but for women it rose at a slower pace of 1.4 percentage points to 51.4 per cent.

“The lack of family-friendly policies, low career expectations, subdued growth and high pay gaps weigh heavily on women’s participation,” said Nicola Nobile, economist at consultancy Oxford Economics.

He added that reforms could have a significant impact on long-term growth. Italy̵[ads1]7;s economic output has largely stagnated for more than two decades.

The unemployment figures, which were published on Thursday, nevertheless surprised investors. Interest rates in the euro zone’s third-largest economy widened their decline to 7.8 percent in October from 7.9 percent the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. Economists had predicted an increase to 8 percent.

Bar chart of difference with EU average, % points, Q2 2022, aged 20 to 64, shows Italy has the lowest female employment in the EU

Italy’s female employment rate is the lowest of any other EU country and is more than 20 percentage points below Germany’s. An even bigger gap has opened up against the rates in the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. It is the lowest of any other advanced economy.

The difference between men and women participating in the labor force is roughly twice the eurozone average.

The right-wing Giorgia Meloni took office in October, but she has not been able to raise hopes of a change in direction.

Carlo Bonomi, the head of the Confederation of Italian Industry, has hit out at the annual national budget for a lack of “vision”, including adding measures to increase women’s participation in the workforce.

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