An average 75.3% of women aged 25 to 49 years are employed in Belgium, as against 84% of men in the same age group, according to the results of a study by the Belgian Statistical Office, Statbel, released on Wednesday ahead of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. The number of children under the age of 16 years in a household also has a significant impact on women, according to the Statbel study, which looked at employment rates for men and women aged 25 to 49, with or without children, and covered 1986 to 2016.
In 2016, men and women in childless households had practically similar employment rates: 77.5% of women and 78.1% of men had jobs.
However, things change as soon as the first child is born. In such cases, only 76.5% of the women work as against 88.7% of the men.
On the other hand, employment rates among women with two children and their male partners was higher than average. In these households, 79.1 % of women and 93% of men worked.
Employment rates among women with three or more children were significantly lower – 56.8% – as against 84% for their male counterparts.
The gender gap in employment is thus considerable, even though Statbel has observed a positive trend in 30 years: the average percentage of working women was stagnant at 52.6% in 1986, whereas by 2016, it had risen to 75.3%.
While male employment has remained relatively stable or dipped here and there in the past 30 years, employment rates among all categories of women have increased by 20% or more.