Women’s labour market participation in the European Union has increased over recent decades, passing 70% in 2014. In that year, women comprised almost 46% of the active EU labour market population. Nevertheless, women’s employment and participation rates are still lower than those of men in almost all Member States. Fostering higher participation of women is crucial to meet the Europe 2020 target to achieve an overall employment rate of at least 75% by 2020. This report explores the main characteristics and consequences of gender gaps in labour market participation. It finds that the total cost of a lower female employment rate was €370 billion in 2013, corresponding to 2.8% of EU GDP. The report also examines policies and measures aimed at fostering female labour market participation, which could be central to closing gender gaps. An executive summary is available - see Related content. An annex, published separately, contains details of policy measures to support the labour market participation of women.