Context – Declining female labour force participation.
Why in news-
Year 2020 marked as-
- The nearly fifty years since the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) submitted the report ‘Towards Equality’ to the United Nations (UN).
- It focused on women-sensitive policymaking in India, providing a fresh perspective on gender equality.
- The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action- A benchmark for analyzing the condition of women and State-led empowerment.
What is the status of women’s workforce in India?
- Workforce participation: India demonstrates one of the lowest labour participation rates for women, which have been consistently declining since 1950.
- The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19 indicates a fall in absolute employment for women.
- Women faced a decline in labour participation rates (from 2011 to 2019) in rural areas from 35.8% to 26.4%, and stagnation in urban areas at around 20.4%.
- Poor worldwide Rankings:
- Global Gender Gap Index– India has been ranked 149th among 153 countries in terms of women’s economic participation and opportunity published by World Economic Forum.
- 2019 Oxfam report– Gender wage gap highest in Asia. Based on hourly wages, women earn, on average, 65.5% of what their male colleagues earn for performing the same work.
- Women in agriculture:
- Lack of ownership of land– As many as 87 per cent of women does not own their land, only 12.7 per cent of them do.
- Status of women in other sectors of the economy:
- Manufacturing sector – around 14% of the female labour force.
- Women account for only 19.9% of the total labor force in India
- The service sector sees women disproportionately involved in care-work, over 60% of the 4.75 million domestic workers are women.
- The non-availability of white collar jobs, disproportionate long hours and lesser job security narrow downs the job opportunities for educated women in India.
What are the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and new labour codes on women workforce?
- COVID-19 impact– Recent job stagnation and high unemployment rates for women, exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic, also keep women out of the labor force.
- Job lost in pandemic– The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data showed that 39% of women lost their jobs in April and May compared to 29% of men.
- New labour codes impact– The labour reforms disregard women’s work conditions.
- The codes acknowledge neither the gender wage gap nor non-payment of wages and bonuses
- Ignore informal mostly women workers in terms of social security, insurance, provident fund, maternity benefits, or gratuity.
- There is no protection against sexual harassment at workplace.
- Maternity benefits remain unchanged from the 2017 amendment
- Addressing structural issues which keep women away from the workforce is a must.
- Policy decisions need to articulate gendered concerns during public health emergencies because gender-sensitive pandemic planning may substantially mitigate these concerns.