Women workforce

Context – Declining female labour force participation.

Why in news-

Year 2020 marked as-

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

  1. 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%.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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?

  1. 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.
  1. 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

Way forward-

  • 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.
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