Work, female employment in Italy is at 48%: the EU average is 59%

If the level of participation of women in Italy were equal to the European one, we would have 2.3 million more employed women. This is revealed by Confcommercio data. A decidedly more marked gap than that of male employment (65.5% in Italy versus 70.2% in the EU). The tertiary and services sector records the highest levels of female employment

Female participation in the labor market in Italy still marks a clear gap compared to the rest of the European Union. Italian women between 15 and 72 years old with employment in 2022 is equal to 48.2%. The EU average, however, is 59.6%: a gap of over 11 percentage points. This is what emerges from an analysis by the Confcommercio Research Office on the dynamics of female employment, both employed and self-employed. Based on these data, if the level of participation of women in Italy rose to the same level as the European one, we would have 2.3 million more employed women.

The sectors of work

The research was presented today at the Terziario Donna Confcommercio Forum “Women, Businesses, Future – Changing work”. According to the study, the sector that drives female employment in Italy is the tertiary sector. The work of women, whether employed or self-employed, in the four-year period 2019-2023 recorded a growth of 13.3% compared to 10.2% of the total made up of men and women. Of this approximately 13%, the tertiary sector saw the most pronounced growth, equal to 15.8%. Going into detail, in the range between 15 and 64 years, the employment of women in Italy according to Eurostat data referring to 2022 is at 51.1% compared to 64.9% in the EU.

In detail

If we look at the range between 15 and 64 years old, women’s employment in Italy, according to Eurostat data referring to 2022, is at 51.1% compared to 64.9% in the EU. The activity rate of women in this age group is 56.4% in Italy and 69.5% in the EU-27. Confcommercio data shows that the gap with the EU for women is decidedly more marked compared to that of male participation (65.5% in Italy, 70.2% in the EU) and is even larger in the South, where the female participation rate is 35.5%, more than 24 points behind the European average, compared to 55.4% in the North.

Women in the tertiary sector

According to the Confcommercio study, in almost thirty years from 1995 to 2023 the market tertiary sector created 3.4 million jobs in Italy, growing by 30.8%, while all the other sectors of the economy lost workers . In the tertiary sector, female employment is equal to 47.5%: a significantly higher value than the total economic activities (39.6%). As regards self-employment, the independent female component is more significant in large-scale distribution (44.6%) and in small trade (37.6%), in tourism (42.3%), in the professions (37.2% ), in personal services (53.9%).

Promote female entrepreneurship

The female employment rate is growing but the gap with other EU countries is still evident. “Considering the current gap in our country between female employment (employee and self-employed) and male employment – commented Anna Lapini, President of Terziario Donna Confcommercio – it is clear that we need to implement targeted actions to promote female entrepreneurship, which represents still only 22% of the total number of businesses, and support the economic activities of the tertiary sector, because it is in our sectors where female employment is growing the most”.