Systemic Issues affecting Women’s Participation in labour Market

Synopsis: The burden on Women during the Pandemic increased disproportionately due to Societal norms, a male-dominated job market, and a lack of gender-sensitive policy making. This article provides a solution to address these issues.

  • Gender inequality in terms of employment is high in India. For instance, only 18% of working-age women were employed as compared to 75% of men.
  • Lack of good jobs, restrictive social norms, and the burden of household work are the main reasons for this widening Gender divide in employment.
  • After the Pandemic, the Gender gap in employment has further widened. Women workers, in particular, have borne a disproportionate burden.
What factors are affecting Women’s participation in labour market?

The data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy has revealed the following.

  • First, during the lockdown, job losses were disproportionately high for women as compared to men. The reasons were,
    • Job security for men is high: 61% of male workers were unaffected during the lockdown while only 19% of women experienced this kind of security.
    • Male-dominated work culture: 47% of employed women who had lost jobs during the lockdown, had not returned to work whereas it was only 7%, in the case of Men.
    • Further, Despite the nature of Industry, Women lost a greater number of Jobs compared to Men. For instance, in the education and Health industry.
    • More fallback options for men: Between 2019-2020, 33% of formal salaried men moved into self-employment and 9% into daily wage work. In contrast, only 4% and 3% of formal salaried women moved into self-employment and daily wage work.
    • Burden of care: This is one of the major reasons for poor employment recovery among Women.
  • Second, during the lockdown, women’s domestic work increased manifold. According to the India Working Survey 2020, among employed men, the number of hours spent on paid work remained more or less unchanged after the pandemic.
    • But for women, the number of hours spent in domestic work increased manifold. This increase in hours came without any accompanying relief in the hours spent on paid work.
What needs to be done?
  • First, increase employment opportunities. The state can do it by following ways:
    • Expanding the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
    • Introduction of an urban employment guarantee targeted towards women.
    • Setting up of community kitchens.
    • Prioritizing the opening of schools and Anganwadi centers
    • Engagement with self-help groups for the production of personal protective equipment kits
  • Second, direct income support. A COVID-19 hardship allowance of ₹5,000 per month for six months can be announced for 2.5 million accredited social health activists and Anganwadi workers, most of whom are women.
  • Third, Policy support to address issues related to Women workforce.
    • The National Employment Policy should systematically address the issues related to the availability of work and household responsibilities.
    • Envisioning universal basic services Programme. It not only fills existing vacancies in the social sector but also expands public investments in health, education, child and elderly care.
    • It can also alleviate Women’s problems such as nutritional and educational deficits and domestic work burdens.

Source: The Hindu

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