Societal and employers’ prejudices will continue to discriminate between men and women workforce in India, finds Oxfam’s ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’. The report shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the lives and livelihoods of women and other marginalised communities, who have suffered far worse than those in mainstream communities.
According to the findings of the report, 67% of salaried women face lower wages due to discrimination. Only 33% of lower wages for women are caused by a lack of education and work experience.
The findings of the Oxfam report highlight the great extent to which discrimination is a driving factor behind the low Women’s Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in the country. The LFPR for women in India has rapidly declined from 42.7% in 2004-05 to a mere 25.1% in 2021 showing the withdrawal of women from the workforce despite rapid economic growth during the same period. In 2019-20, 60% of all males aged 15 years and more have regular salaried and self-employed jobs as compared to just 19% of all similarly aged females.
The report further points out that there is a significant gap in the earnings between men and women in the case of regular and self-employment in urban areas. The average earnings for men and women in urban areas in self-employment is Rs 15,996 and Rs6,626, respectively. The men’s average earnings is nearly 2.5 times that of the earnings of women.
Oxfam India calls for the active implementation of effective measures to protect and ensure the right to equal wages and work for all women. They suggest the government incentivise the participation of women in the workforce including enhancements in pay, upskilling, job reservations, and easy return-to-work options after maternity.