ndia’s Female Labor Force Participation: A Challenge to Economic Growth

  If the forecast of the United Nations Population Division is correct, then India’s population has reached about 1.425 billion in mid-April, surpassing China to become the most populous country in the world.
  Some analysts see benefits in India’s huge young population, but others worry that the shortage of female labor in India will become a shackle and limit the use of India’s demographic advantages.
  In fact, India does not lack a female population. The reason for the shortage of female labor force is the low labor force participation rate of Indian women. The number of women in India’s workforce has been declining for years, largely making it one of the 20 least employed countries in the world.
A country that lacks a female workforce

  Ravaya Uragana, a mother of two from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was also a human resources professional. In 2014, at the “peak of his career,” Uragana decided to quit his job to spend time with his family. Despite the pain and frustration of the decision, she harbored hope that one day she could return to work.
  Four years later, Ms. Uragana already had two children. She thought it was time to start working again. Unexpectedly, finding a job was much more difficult than she imagined.
  Not only was Ms. Uragana rejected multiple times, she was also asked to take a substantial pay cut, and recruiters felt that there was nothing to be selective about people who had left their jobs. “It was a huge setback for my career,” Ms. Uragana said.
  There are many women like Ms. Uragana. According to the World Bank, India’s female labor force participation rate peaked at 31 percent in 2000. Since then, the female labor force participation rate has been declining, even dropping to 21 percent in 2018. Only 10% of working-age Indian women are employed or looking for work by 2022, the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy found. This means that only 39 million women are employed, compared to 361 million men.
  India hopes its fast-growing working-age population will drive economic growth in the coming years. But as the population grows, some 670 million women are out of the workforce, a growing challenge to India’s own economic growth. Some experts also worry that if India cannot ensure that the population continues to grow, women who cannot participate in the work will easily become a population burden.
  Although the impact of the nationwide employment crisis cannot be ignored, the reason for the low labor force participation rate of Indian women is largely due to the deep-rooted patriarchal culture in Indian society. Women in India are considered the primary caregivers at home, and it is considered a stigma for women to work outside the home.
  According to a 2019 national time use survey in India, women in India spend eight times as much time as men on unpaid care work, and on a global average, women spend three times as much time as men. Experts also say security concerns and the lack of jobs close to home are also holding back women in big cities from joining the workforce.
“Women should stay at home”

  Women feel social pressure to hold back even when there are job opportunities.
  Ms Lalmani Chauhan’s home is located in rural Uttar Pradesh. In her hometown, she almost never saw women go out to work. When Ms Chauhan came to Mumbai in 2006, she saw women everywhere in public spaces. They serve food in restaurants, get their hair cut or nails painted in salons, sell tickets on local trains, or crowd their own trains to work. Chauhan sees new possibilities and is inspired.
  Today, Chauhan, a social worker, says: “When I started working and left home, my family used to say I must be working as a prostitute.” She kept her job because her husband Bedridden after an accident, her own job became the family’s lifeline.

Mumbai, India, March 20, 2023, Women crowding the train to work

Ghaziabad, India, January 2, 2023, Uttar Pradesh’s first female bus driver

Mumbai, India, September 20, 2022, Busy women buying imitation jewelry

  Only 10% of working-age Indian women are employed or looking for work by 2022.

  Sheila Singh was also a social worker and worked in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, for 16 years. As much as she loves her job, her family keeps telling her she needs to stay home and take care of her two young children. She had resisted pressure from her family for years, but when she found out her daughter was skipping school while she was at work, she felt she had no choice. In 2020, Singh had to resign from her job. On the day she handed in her resignation, she cried very sadly. Ms Singh, 39, said: “Everyone tells me my kids are being neglected…it makes me feel really bad.”
  When Singh quit her job three years ago, she was earning more than her husband . Her husband is a tuk-tuk driver, and his income fluctuates every day, but no one ever advises him to quit. Singh said her husband used to be teased by friends for living off his wife’s salary. “I think it’s clear that my work has no value, so why should I work?” she said.
  Without Singh’s income, her family can no longer afford to live in Mumbai. Mumbai, one of the most expensive cities in Asia to live in, is preparing to move back to her village to save money, but Singh sighs: “There are no jobs there.” In fact, just a few decades ago, the situation in India was
  not So bad now.
  In 2004, when Singh became a social worker, India was still at the height of the historic reforms of the 1990s. New industries and new opportunities were born almost overnight, prompting millions to leave the countryside for better jobs in cities like Mumbai. People feel that life is changing drastically. “I don’t have a college degree, so I never imagined that someone like me would get a job in an office,” Singh said.

  Even then, working from home was an uphill battle for many women. Sunita Sutar, who was a school student in 2004, said that in her native village of Shirsawadi in Maharashtra state, women are usually married at 18 and start living with their husbands . Neighbors laughed at Soutar’s parents for investing in her education, thinking it didn’t matter after they got married.
  Soutar swam against the tide, becoming the first of nearly 2,000 people in the village to earn an engineering degree in 2013. She said: “I know that only by studying can I achieve anything. Otherwise, I will be like everyone else, married off, and then trapped in the village.”
  Sutar now lives and works in Mumbai and is a member of the Indian Ministry of Defense. auditors. It’s a coveted government job for many Indians because it comes with security, prestige and benefits.
Manufacturing needs women workers

  Official figures in India show that only 32 percent of women continue to work after marriage, and most of them work in agriculture.
  Ashweene Deshpande, an economics professor at Ashoka University’s Center for Economic Data and Analysis, said India needs to create more off-farm jobs in rural areas so women can find work outside of agricultural production. “If you want to benefit from India’s gender dividend, women need to be in productive jobs,” she notes. A 2018 McKinsey & Company report estimated that India only needed to increase female labor force participation to 10 percent to increase labor force participation. $552 billion gross domestic product.

  ”Why is the Indian economy growing and only men have to work?”

Maharashtra, India March 22, 2023 A woman in traditional attire rides a motorbike for the New Year’s parade

  Although women currently make up less than 20 percent of Indian manufacturing employees, some noticeable changes can be seen, especially in Hosur, an industrial area in Tamil Nadu. Hosur is just 35 kilometers away from the information technology hub Bangalore, home to many industrial companies and has become an attractive investment location.
  Six years ago, Roshni Lugun left her home in Odisha, 2,000 kilometers away, to work in Hosur as an engineer in a factory. She started out making shock absorbers for two- and three-wheelers and is now a junior supervisor. She explained that she came out to work to “try something new” because if she stayed at home, she would not have made progress and achieved her current achievements.
  Ms Lugon and the hundreds of other women working in the factory are changing the face of a once male-dominated industry, and other companies in Hosur are working to hire more women.
  More than 20 percent of the workers in Hosur-based Gabriel India, which makes auto parts, are women. The company believes that from a business point of view, it makes sense to recruit as many women as possible. “Our internal research shows that the turnover rate of female employees is lower,” said Atul Jagi, chief executive and deputy general manager of Gabriel India.
  To attract more female employees, the company also provides on-site accommodation. , perks like subsidized food and several training programs. “It doesn’t cost more money. These are the basic facilities that any good organization should have,” says General Manager Jagi. Ms. Lugong
  agrees with the General Manager and is overseeing a female colleague’s inspection of the assembly line. Putting the finishing touches on the shock absorbers on her head, she asked rhetorically, “Why does the Indian economy grow and only men have to work?”
  For Lugon, what excites her most about her job is the sense of independence she gains. She said: “Sometimes when I go out with my friends and I see a motorcycle with parts from our car on it, I’ll say, look, I made that. It makes me happy and proud ’”
  But for Singh, who is about to leave Mumbai and return to the countryside, a return to work remains elusive. Although Singh can only afford a one-bedroom apartment deep in a narrow alley in a slum in Mumbai, she is determined to return to the city in the near future.
  ”I’ve never asked anyone for a penny before,” she said. But now, she feels ashamed whenever she is forced to ask her husband for money. Thinking of how independent she had been when she had a job, Singer said quitting was like “losing a part of myself”. She wants to regain her sense of independence.

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