Status of Women in Employment - Daily Current Affair Article


The negative growth rate of Indian economy has affected the employment rate but it has led to more inequalities at the gender level.


  • Gender equality in the labor market is considered as 'smart' economics for accelerated economic growth and wealth creation. Gender equality has the potential to make a socio-economic positive impact, such as the reduction in poverty, increased expenditure on health and education, increased family savings, increased investment, and increased consumption, etc.
  • According to the World Development Report (World Bank, 2011), in the era of globalization, if half the population of a country ( women) is engaged in non-remunerative and less productive economic activities then that country cannot achieve its full potential.
  • Even in a country like India, where gender balance is still in favor of men, there will be a direct impact on any condition of women in the economy.

Status of Women in India's Workforce

  • It is known from the latest data of NSO that the trend of female labor force participation rate (LFPR) is continuing in the country.
  • The female labor force participation rate for the productive age group (15–59 years) decreased by 7.8 percent between 2011–12 to 2017–18 and decreased from 33.1 percent to 25.3 percent.
  • However, the female labor force participation rate is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The decline in this rate has become more acute and higher in rural areas, from 37.8 percent in 2011-12 to 26.6 percent in 2017-18 and in urban areas, this rate increased from 22.2 to 22.3 percent during this period.
  • But during the COVID period, due to migration of men to rural areas, the workforce of women in rural areas also declined.

Factors reducing the participation of women in the labor force: -

While the female population in India is about half of its total population, their labor market participation is about one-third. The number of men (percentage) was significantly higher than women (3.0 percent) in the unemployed population.

The reasons are:-

  • India is a patriarchal society. In a hypothetical situation, if a family has only enough resources to educate one of its sons and daughters, then the son will come as the priority of that family. In the absence of priority, women are left behind in the labor force.
  • Modern society is getting higher education for most women, due to which their entry into the labor market is delayed.
  • According to the World Economic Forum, due to the high responsibility of women in unpaid work (care economy), women are unable to enter the labor force.
  • Private employers do not give priority to women in the labor force as they will have to keep provisions like structural reforms, maternity benefits.
  • The structural transformation in the economy of the additional country has also had a profound effect on the labor force participation of women which has been ignored. Their participation in the labor force has also decreased due to increasing distance from employment related to agriculture and higher mechanization of agriculture.
  • The decline in animal husbandry in rural areas and the decrease in exports of labor-intensive industries in urban areas have also harmed their labor force participation.
  • Women have also left the workforce due to low wages in agriculture. The labor force participation of women (who were not paid any economic payments) in the agricultural sector has declined due to the migration of men engaged in agriculture to construction works in urban areas.
  • Besides, sexual harassment at the workplace and increasing sexual exploitation in cities discourage women from participating in the labor force.

Measures to improve women's participation

  • Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution protect from gender discrimination.
  • Intending to provide a conducive environment for women at the workplace, labor laws include appropriate protective provisions, such as infant care centers, giving babies the necessary time to feed, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave increased to 26 weeks, mandatory baby care facilities in establishments with 50 or more personnel, adequate security for women working at night, etc.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1948 also applies equally to men and women without any discrimination.
  • Provided necessary training in industrial training institutes, national vocational training institutes, and regional vocational training institutes by the government to increase employment opportunities for women workers in the country
  • Various provisions related to this have been made by the Women Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act at the workplace - Internal Complaints Committee Local Grievance Committee (LCC) has been set up in each district to receive harassment complaints.
  • Empowerment of rural women is done through community participation under the Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme.
  • Through the Women's Helpline Scheme Single Number (181), the government schemes related to women are provided with 24-hour emergency and non-emergency facilities to women affected by violence.
  • One-stop centers have been established in each district.
  • To encourage women's entrepreneurship, measures like Mudra Yojana, Stand Up Scheme, Mahila e Haat have been taken.

The conclusion

The situation of socially backward women has been further aggravated by COVID-19. Due to the increase in online education, the education of women going to college and school will be blocked somewhere. Therefore, it will seriously prevent women from moving forward. To improve the status of women, society needs to be progressive, in which the private, as well as the public sectors will have to cooperate.

General Studies Paper 2 & 3
  • Social Justice and Economics

Mains Question:-

  • Gender equality in the labor market is considered as 'smart' economics for accelerated economic growth and wealth creation. Is India a Smart Economy? Critically Analyze?