India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate is low and reducing consistently. National Sample survey (NSS) shows that between 1983 and 2011, India’s married women participation in labour force is declining even when the economy grew and fertility fell. Surprisingly, these trends are visible in high skill profession like senior officer, legislator and managers. Among engineers the female unemployment is five times more than men.
Reasons for low FLFP rate
High labour market barrier for socially and economically marginalized communities can increase the transmission of disadvantages across generation. Here we look at why participation of women labour force in economy is on a declining trend even when they have access to better education. These main reasons for decline in FLFP rate :
- Women are being overlooked among the unemployed people. Majority of them are outside labour force but are willing to work.
- Majority of women generally work in low paying or socially accepted jobs many of them are offshoots of domestic helps and childcare.
- Women are still entrusted to look after household duties and families across the social status.
- Existing skill and employment generation programme ignore the additional needs and constraint of women worker keeping them in disadvantage as compared to others.
Steps needed to be taken
Over the years both sate and central government have taken several steps to increase the participation of women in labour force so that they can contribute to the nation economy. In doing so they must undertake these policy reform
Strengthening existing policy
Both Central and State government use reservation as a policy to increase the representation of marginalized community in their workforce. Almost all states in India provide reservation to female child. Several survey has increased the SC / ST, OBC representation by around some percentage point. Its been observed that there is increase in female employment in education after operation blackboard reserve the post of teacher for women. These steps change the prejudice and bias against women. But these steps should be well monitor and well targeted.
Redesinging policy strategy
Recently, both states and central government has starting using the policy of Direct benefit transfer that is they are started transfering the social security amount direct beneficary bank account. The government should transfer the benefit amount directly to the bank account of women in the household as it leads to proper utilization of that amount.
Changing policy approach
Policy to increase FLFP and job creation can’t be viewed differently. This means that FLFP fails to create the level playing field for example job creation and skilling programmes often ignores safety, mobility, and other special needs of women which posses a big labour market barrier for women. Skilling and job creation programme should pay special attention to women needs and should break other entry barrier for women.
Influencing the private sector
Firms do not have incentive to support policy that benefit government and society at large. The great example is India’s recent maternity leave policy, where cost of leave is borne by private firms. This has led to low hiring or in some case no hiring of women in private firm which is just unacceptable.
The government should fund the cost of maternity leave to the firm especially for less education and women who hails from weaker and marginalized sector. Laying off women for just their biology it not unique to India this trends have been observed in all the countries around the world.
The way forward
Women need must be addressed and their participation must be increased not just in labour force but also in all sectors of the sectors. The dream transforming in to developed economy cannot be achieved if without the contribution of women. Not just government but private should come forward and implement gender parity and equal payment for equal work in their firms. Women contribution in society can be better understood by Gandhi quote : “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)”.