Practice Question 9

Q) According to a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India has one of the lowest rates of women’s labour force participation in Asia and this low rate of labour force participation seems to be declining. How should India arrest this decline? What challenges should India address to bring gender dividend? Discuss.

Superb Hints:

India has one of the world’s largest gender gaps when it comes to labour force participation, with women accounting for only 23-24% of the total labour force. This is far below the global average. It is very important to promote their participation, their involvement in the Indian economy.

Following options can be worked out in this regard:

1. Generating opportunities - As farm work is shrinking, it is required to create opportunities for women to move from agricultural to non-agricultural manual work.

2. Conducive workplace - There is a need to foster a work environment that allows more women, especially urban and educated women, to take up salaried jobs.

3. Better transportation - It could facilitate movement of the rural women workforce into non-agricultural work in neighbouring villages and towns.

4. Enhancing family-friendly institutions - As in India women bear the major share of household work and childcare, there is a need to make it possible for educated women to continue to work even while raising families. This can be achieved by creating family-friendly work institutions so that women can access to white-collar jobs in the formal sector.

5. Promoting sharing of household responsibilities - Urban and educated Indian women drop out of labour pool to focus on their children’s education. It can be addressed by promoting sharing of household responsibilities between both genders like Scandinavian countries have emphasized.

6. Welfare schemes - According to ILO social welfare scheme MGNREGA has to be continued and further improved so as to keep women workforce engaged. Other initiatives like social housing for workforce can also play significant role.

Challenges in achieving gender dividend-

1. Access to education - Addressing this issue needs to start with ensuring access to education to girls at primary school level & then continuing to higher school, undergraduate & graduate levels. There are millions of dropout children in 6-14 years, most of them are girl child of disadvantageous group. Mainstreaming these girls can have huge economic multiplier benefits.

2. Arresting drop-out rate - Efforts will have to be taken to promote women not to drop their jobs in case marriage, children upbringing etc. Employers will need to do their part to encourage women to stay in the workforce as well as adopt innovative approaches to bring them back into workforce after they have taken time off.

3. Gender-sensitization - Society will have to be gender-sensitized so that women get self-confidence to be part of workforce.

As Gender dividend pays more than demographic dividend in economic terms, it is wise to focus more on achieving it. India can increase its 2025 gross domestic product (GDP) by between 16% and 60% simply by enabling women to participate in the economy on par with men. To promote women workforce participation India will have to work on multidimensional aspects like social, political, legal and economical.

©© Copyright©©