While the total number of female workers in India is 149.8 million, the labour market participation by them is abysmal, a TeamLease Services study said on Tuesday. According to the TeamLease Services’ latest report No Woman Left Behind — a comprehensive analysis highlighting the current state of women participation in the workforce — only 12 percent of the women are part of the contractual staff in India compared to 88 percent among men.
As per the study, one of the primary reasons for the low rate of women at work is the high participation in domestic duties or unpaid work. The Economic Survey 2018-19 noted that the rate of women engaged in domestic duties is as high as 55.7 percent in rural areas and 59.1 percent in urban areas.
According to a first-of-its-kind Time Use Survey by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, women spend about 5 hours a day on unpaid domestic work or thrice as much time as men. Moreover, COVID-induced job market stagnation has also forced women out of the labour force. Low participation of urban women in the labour force, mobility restrictions and sacrificing of career progression, education opportunities to meet family responsibilities, safety considerations and other social restrictions also are complementing the low presence of women in the workforce.
As per the analysis, the work eco-system, in general, is also not very conducive nor encouraging to increase women’s 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. Similarly, a significant proportion of the women who are currently in the workforce do not have access or are not eligible for any social security benefits deterring the participation of women at work.
”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,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and Executive Vice President, TeamLease Services. ”It will require equal participation by the entire stakeholder, including women, employers and policymakers. In fact, improving women’s labour force participation and bringing it to the same level as men can not only have a positive impact on women, it can help in boosting GDP by 27 percent,” Chakraborty added.