News: India aims to bridge gender gap in workforce

Diversity

India aims to bridge gender gap in workforce

Building on financial incentives and care service investments, India's new plan aims to propel female workforce participation to global levels by tackling childcare burdens and skill development gaps.
India aims to bridge gender gap in workforce

India is gearing up to close the gender gap in its workforce and reach global benchmarks for female participation, a critical step towards achieving its 2047 developed nation goal, according to a new report. Currently, female participation sits at 37%, a stark contrast to the much higher male rate of 77.2% This gap represents a missed opportunity for both individual women and the nation's overall economic growth.

Despite the recent rise to 37% in 2022-23 from 32.8 in 2021-22 –as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey, India's female labour force participation remains below the global average of 50%+. A significant portion of women (44.5%) cite childcare and personal commitments as reasons for not working, highlighting the persistent challenges of childcare burdens, per the PLFS 2021-22 data.

The World Bank's Women, Business and the Law 2024 report further emphasizes safety concerns, wage disparities, and limited childcare options as key hurdles to achieving true gender equality in the workforce. 

The decision of and ability for women to participate in the labour force is the outcome of various economic and social factors that interact in a complex fashion at both the household and macro level, as per a report by ILO. 

Discrimination in wages and opportunities remains a major roadblock, according to a 2022 report by Oxfam. The report suggests that incentives for better pay, training, and job quotas for hiring women are crucial steps towards closing the gap. Traditional gender roles that prioritize childcare and household duties for women also restrict their career options.

Building a more inclusive ecosystem

The government's new plan is reportedly multi-faceted, incorporating several key strategies.

Financial incentives will be offered to companies to stimulate job creation for women, addressing barriers such as gender discrimination. Investments in childcare and eldercare services aim to alleviate caregiving responsibilities, allowing women more time for paid work.

To empower women entrepreneurs, the government plans to streamline access to loans and resources. Upskilling programs are also integral, focusing on equipping women with essential skills for today's job market demands.

Flexible work arrangements and remote work options will be promoted to accommodate childcare needs, encouraging more women to enter and stay in the workforce. 

Strengthening legislation and fostering a zero-tolerance policy against workplace harassment are crucial steps towards creating a safer work environment for women nationwide.

Beyond policy – a shift in mindset

While government initiatives are crucial, lasting progress requires societal transformation, including fostering girls' education, dismantling gender stereotypes, and promoting shared family responsibilities for childcare and domestic duties.

Bridging the chasm in India's female labour force participation demands sustained, collaborative effort from the government, the private sector, and civil society. After all, a more inclusive workforce wouldn't merely empower women; it would demonstrably stimulate economic output, innovation, and social well-being, according to a McKinsey report.

As ILO) observes, the ultimate objective transcends beyond increasing participation to providing access to decent work, and catalysing women's economic empowerment. (This was first reported by The Economic Times.)

Do you believe the upcoming budget could indicate the government's commitment to this priority? Let us know.

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Topics: Diversity, #SheMatters, #GlobalPerspective

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