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Women's employment in India: challenges & solutions



  Apr 11, 2024

Women's employment in India: challenges & solutions



The India Employment Report, 2024, has spotlighted the evolving dynamics within the Indian labor market, with a particular focus on the disparity in labor force participation rates (LFPR) between genders. Despite overall improvements in key labor market indicators, women's participation remains significantly lower than their male counterparts and below the global average.

Key Findings and Reasons for Low Women’s Participation

Labor Force Participation Rates: In 2023, the male LFPR stood at 78.5, while the female LFPR was at 37, compared to the global average of 49 for women. A notable decline in women’s LFPR was observed since 2000, reaching a low of 24.5 in 2019, before seeing a modest increase, primarily in rural areas.

Nature of Women’s Employment: The report highlights that the increment in employment post-2019 largely consisted of self-employment and unpaid family work, with women significantly contributing to these sectors. This rise in self-employment among women is attributed to economic distress and the pandemic, rather than a shift towards more sustainable and empowering job opportunities.

Barriers to Women’s Participation: Multiple factors contribute to the low participation of women in the labor force, including a lack of job opportunities, societal norms prioritizing women's roles in caregiving and domestic chores, low wages, safety concerns, and patriarchal attitudes.

Recommendations for Improving Women’s Job Prospects

Promotion of Labor-Intensive Sectors: Encouraging sectors that are labor-intensive can create more job opportunities for women, particularly in manufacturing and services.

Public Investment in Safety and Transport: Enhancing public safety measures and improving transportation infrastructure are crucial for enabling women to seek employment opportunities beyond their immediate localities.

Affordable Care Facilities: Investing in accessible and affordable childcare and elderly care services can significantly reduce the domestic burdens on women, freeing them to participate more fully in the labor market.

Education and Skill Development: Continuous efforts to improve education and skill development for women will equip them better to engage with and benefit from evolving job markets.

Legislative and Policy Support: Enacting and enforcing policies that encourage gender equality in the workplace, including equal pay, maternity benefits, and protection against discrimination, can improve women’s employment conditions.

Addressing Social Norms: Efforts to challenge and change societal norms that limit women’s roles to domestic spheres are essential for increasing women's participation in the labor force.

The report underscores a critical need for concerted efforts from both the government and the private sector to address the multifaceted barriers facing women’s employment in India. By implementing targeted interventions and fostering an inclusive economic growth model, there is potential to significantly enhance women’s participation in the workforce, contributing to overall social and economic development.




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