Women participation in India’s workforce


Women participation in India’s workforce

News: Last month, India surpassed China as the world's most populous country, prompting analysts to point out the potential benefits of its significant young demographic. However, a major obstacle to realising this potential is the insufficient representation of women in India's workforce.

Important facts pertaining Women’s participation in workforce in India:

→ According to data from the World Bank, the female participation rate in India's labour force was at its peak in 2000 at 31%. Since then, it has consistently fallen, hitting a low of 21% in 2018.

→ A 2018 McKinsey report estimated that India could add $550bn to its gross domestic product by increasing its female labour force participation by just 10%.

→ Currently, women employees account for less than 20% of India's manufacturing sector.

What are reasons for declining women participation?

→ India is still a largely patriarchal society, where women are expected to be primary caregivers at home.

→ Indian women spend eight times the number of hours on unpaid care work compared with men, according to a national time use survey from 2019. The global average is three times.

→ Experts say that safety concerns and not being able to find jobs close to home also prevent women in big cities from joining the workforce.

→ Lack of opportunities for women returning to their careers after a professional break.

→ Concentration in low/non-productive jobs: Like agriculture, primary caregiver at home, etc.

→ Gender inequality – Almost 19% of employed women had regular salaried jobs while compared to 60% of employed men had regular salaried jobs. (Oxfam India Report)

What are steps taken by government?

→ The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 provides for enhancement in paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks and provisions for mandatory crèche facilities.

→ An advisory is provided to the States under the Factories Act 1948 for permitting women workers in the night shifts with adequate safety measures.

→ A number of protective provisions have been incorporated in various labour laws – The Equal Remuneration Act 1976, The Minimum Wages Act 1948.

→ A network of Women Industrial Training institutes, National Vocational Training Institutes and Regional Vocational Training Institutes.

Best practices (as quoted in editorial)

→ Gabriel India Ltd - an auto parts company in Hosur - says that more than 20% of the workers in its factories are women.

→ The company provides perks such as on-site accommodation, subsidised food and several training programmes to attract more women workers.

→ They believe that attrition rates for women are lower.

Way Forward:

→ A policy framework encouraging and enabling women’s participation should be constructed.

→ Active awareness of the “gender-specific” constraints that face most women.

→ Gender-responsive policies need to be developed.
Source – BBC, Oxfam India Report

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