According to the latest study by TeamLease, the current state of women participation in the workforce seems to be in a shambolic state.
One of the primary reasons for the low rate of women at work is the high participation in domestic duties or unpaid work, especially in the metropolitan areas. As per the numbers, only 12% women are part of the contractual services in India while the rest 88% are the men.
According to the ‘Time Use Survey’ by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Govt. of India, women spend about 5 hours a day on unpaid domestic work or thrice as much time as men. This leads to unbalance in the work environment with many well-educated women left behind the system that dates back to olden times.
U-shaped relationship between education and labour force participation
Though women with higher education face no constraints from their family, the women with lower levels of education have no no choice but to be part of the dilapidated workforce to support their family with whatever means.
COVID-19 induced job market stagnation has led moderately educated women to be forcefully out of the labour force as they face a harder choice to work in a setup which wont do them any justice. Mobility restrictions, sacrificing of career progression, education opportunities to meet family responsibilities, safety considerations and other social restrictions have also contributed to the low number of women led workforce in the market.
Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, TeamLease Services, said, “One of the biggest casualties that the pandemic has caused is, it has pushed the women participation in the workforce to a further lower level. Correcting and improving it, will call for an aggressive and comprehensive approach focussed on ensuring women are given equal importance in the country’s economic plan.”
She also added that it will require equal participation by the entire stake holder including women, employers and policy makers and improving women’s labour force participation and bringing it to the same level as men will also help in boosting GDP by 27%.
According to the report, the work environment in general is also not very conducive nor encouraging to increase women participation. Irrespective of the nature of work, the majority of the women employees in India still do not have a written job contract, nearly half of the regular wage/salaried employees are not eligible for paid leave.
A basic solution to start with would be to revamp the labour code or include provisions in the labour code which would include upskilling training to women, strengthening them and also facilitate in formalising the informal sector women labour force participation. Also, setting up a gender sensitive and gender transformative skill development framework will help redefine the role of skill institutes to promote gender diversity in the training facilities.
Few more provisions to improve women participation would include:
- Offering incentives to MSMEs to engage female apprentices.
- Create gendered friendly policy to minimise the gulf between ownership versus control of land by addressing patriarchal conventions and bottlenecks in interpersonal legislations.
- Encourage companies to dedicate larger portions of their procurement budgets toward businesses owned by women and also to be partnered with women-owned businesses.
- Providing subsidies for women in farming and creating an ecosystem of self-help groups to increase. Special schemes with PPP into Agricultural sector to increase yield will also help the industry to bring from informal family occupation to an industry run business and more participation of women.
With many start-ups in India rising to become unicorns in their sectors, it would be interesting to see how they engage themselves to create a framework to expand women participation in the diligent workforce.