Challenges faced by women labour force in India

  • Lack of Economic Empowerment:
    • Women’s Labor force participation globally is 51% while it is 80% for men as per World Development Report 2012. In India it is 23% as per the latest PLFS Survey.
    • Women are underrepresented in senior managerial position and overrepresented in low paying jobs. Oxford Survey shows that globally only 19% firms have a female senior manager.
  • Access to productive capital:
    • It is harder for women to access funds and capital for farming, starting a business or for other developmental works.
    •  Women tend to lack access to informal networks that provide opportunities to work in high-profile projects, which include attending conferences abroad or on-the-job opportunities.
  • Crisis of regular employment:
    • When women are not reported as workers, it is because of the lack of employment opportunities rather than it being on account of any “withdrawal” from the labour force.
    • This crisis of regular employment will have intensified during the pandemic and the lockdown.
  • Nonfulfillment of particular criteria required for women:
    • Younger and more educated women are often not seeking work because they aspire to skilled non-agricultural work, whereas older women are more willing to engage in manual labour.
    • Secondary Education for women is lower than man in majority of countries while this stands at less than 80% in India.
  • Unequal pay:
    • Women’s wages are rarely equal to men’s wages, with a few exceptions.
    • Globally women still earn 20% less than men. In a recent ILO report, India was among the bottom five countries, with a gender pay gap of 34 per cent.
    • That is, women get 34 per cent less compared to men for performing the same job with same qualifications.
    • The gap between female and male wages is highest for non-agricultural tasks — the new and growing source of employment.
  • Glass Ceiling effect:
    •  Corporates: Women still earn on average 79 percent of what men earn, hold only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and represent on average 17 percent of global Board positions.
    •  When it comes to peer recognition, women are at loss as they muster less support.
    • As per Mckinsey report women were overlooked for promotion even in companies like Google for their reproductive choices.
    • Women continue to face the same kind of discrimination at work as they face in society.
    • According to a recent Accenture research report, the gender pay gap in India is as high as 67 percent in corporates.
  • Exceedingly long woman’s workday:
    • Counting all forms of work — economic activity and care work or work in cooking, cleaning, child care, elderly care — a woman’s workday is exceedingly long and full of drudgery.
    • In the FAS time-use survey, the total hours worked by women (in economic activity and care) ranged upto a maximum of 91 hours (or 13 hours a day) in the peak season.
    • No woman puts in less than a 60-hour work-week.
  • Safety Issues:
    • Concerns about safety and Harassment at work site, both explicit and implicit.
  • Social norms:
    • Social norms about household work are against women’s mobility and participation in paid work. Childbirth and taking care of elderly parents or in-laws account for the subsequent points where women drop off the employment pipeline.
    • The cultural baggage about women working outside the home is so strong that in most traditional Indian families, quitting work is a necessary precondition to the wedding itself.
    • When increases in family incomes are there, due to the cultural factors, women leave the work to take care of the family and avoid the stigma of working outside.
    • Social norms and stereotypes: Classifying men as “bread winners” and women pursuing jobs as “career women” was reported by Oxford University Survey. It also highlighted that most of the unpaid work is seen as a women’s job.
    • Deeply ingrained bias: Ironically it exists among both men and women – against genuine equality. According PISA test data, the notion that “boys fare better at maths” is unfounded. Yet this belief still exists.