Female labour force participation rates (LFPR) among women aged 15 and up in India are as low as 26.4 percent in rural regions and 20.4 percent in urban areas, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2018-19. The pandemic is already exacerbated the fundamental inequities that women and girls face, undoing years of progress toward gender equality. Women’s unemployment is caused by a combination of supply and demand variables, including the weight of domestic responsibilities, particularly reproductive roles, as well as a lack of suitable and relevant career possibilities.
How biased behaviour and preconceptions prevent women from working
- Societal pressure: There is a general fear that women’s job will be stigmatised by the community, which will perceive it as a sign of low status, i.e. the husband’s failure to support for the family. Furthermore, conservative sentiments are on the rise, with many believing that a woman’s place is in the home and kitchen, and that stepping outside the socially acceptable boundary will result in retaliation.
- Stereotyping in Society: Women in India are expected to take care of their families and children due to societal conventions. This stereotype is a significant impediment to women’s involvement in the labour field. As a result, women are always at odds over how much time they should devote to work, and life has become a war of attrition for them.
- Education and employment for women have a U-shaped relationship, according to data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) (a rise and subsequent decline in employment with the rise in education levels). Women with primary and secondary education have a lower rate of work engagement than men, and only women with a college education have a higher rate. Furthermore, the scarcity of white-collar positions, disproportionately high working hours, and a lack of job security limit job options for educated women in India.
- In recent years, as family sizes have shrunk and rural males have been forced to migrate, the burden of unpaid work has shifted disproportionately to women. Women’s capacity to acquire skills for higher professions is hampered by the load of domestic work and unpaid care, resulting in a vicious cycle of women being kept out of the labour force.
- Women are excluded from some vocations, especially in the food processing, sericulture, and industries, due to constraints imposed by casteist and patriarchal conceptions of cleanliness and pollution. Women’s lack of engagement in the workforce is exacerbated by factors such as household income, social background, and place of living. Furthermore, patriarchal traditions require severe gender segregation in rural countries, which is further exacerbated by religious taboos and cultural biases.
- Policymakers in India and throughout the region should take a holistic approach to improving women’s labour market outcomes by increasing access to and relevance of education and training programmes, skills development, child care access, maternity protection, and the provision of safe and accessible transportation, as well as promoting a growth pattern that creates job opportunities.
- State governments should also develop strategies to encourage rural women to work in permanent paying positions.
- In the industrial and service sectors, there is a need to provide education-based jobs in rural areas.
- Governments should also raise public awareness to promote a good attitude toward women, as this is one of the most significant hurdles to women’s economic participation.
- Local governments should open more crèches in towns and cities, with state government assistance, so that women with children can work. Women will have more job opportunities as a result of the crèches.
- Increased social spending, notably in education, can increase female labour force participation through increasing female human capital stocks.
- Skill India, Make in India, and new gender-based quotas can all help to bring about positive change. However, we must invest in skill development.
- Full-Time Child Care: While the Integrated Child Development Scheme offers some assistance, it does not provide full-time child care.
- However, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA”Sangini )’s Centres” provide full-day child care for children aged 0 to 5, including nutrition, health, and child care. As a result, comparable centres should be greatly expanded.
- Bridging the Digital Gap: Partnerships between the public and commercial sectors will be most effective in addressing issue. Affordability of phones and computers, female digital literacy and its social context, and a lack of technical material specific to women and girls will all require action.
- Women Entrepreneurship Encouragement: Creating work possibilities is a pressing necessity. Encouragement of more women to become entrepreneurs, on the other hand, will give a long-term solution. Women’s entrepreneurship has the potential to revolutionise India’s economy and society by creating jobs, fostering innovation, and increasing investment in health and education.
- Prioritizing Gender Statistics: In 2016, the United Nations Women announced the “Making Every Woman and Girl Count” initiative to help prioritise gender data, ensuring the regular production of high-quality, comparable gender statistics, and ensure that data is accessible and used to shape policy. Incorporating such a programme in India is also necessary.
“No country can thrive and realise its full potential if half of its population is trapped in non-remunerative, less productive, and non-economic activities,” according to the World Bank. As a result, in a society where young women’s education is now on par with men’s, disregarding the fact that half of the population isn’t equally involved in the economy means we’re missing out on opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and productivity growth.