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Friday, April 19, 2024, 6:39 pm

Friday, April 19, 2024, 6:39 pm

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Women must be included if the nation is to develop into a $5 trillion economy.

Women's Workforce Participation in India
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7.5% of the GDP comes from the unpaid work of women.

It is a well-known fact that parents who work outside the home need to have someone watch their child. Traditionally, Indian family systems have satisfied this demand by having moms take care of the children and the elderly and dads work outside the home. Nevertheless, this paradigm does not align with India’s expanding aspirations. Women must be included if the nation is to develop into a $5 trillion economy. There are two unique approaches to get here: women’s work, which frequently consists of caregiving, has to be valued fairly, and they need to have sufficient assistance to engage in economic activities outside the house.

According to India’s first national Time Use Survey, which was published in 2020 by the National Statistical Office, 81.2% of all women and 26.1% of males do unpaid household tasks. It finds that women spend 19 hours on average while males spend 42 hours on activities within the production border, or what is typically considered economic activity. Nonetheless, women devote ten times more time (34.6 vs 3.6 hours) to caring for children, the ill, and the elderly, as well as home upkeep.

This has two consequences: first, working women bear the infamous “double burden,” in which their outside employment and contribution to the family’s income do not translate into a reduction of their domestic duties; second, the care work they do put in is not included in the more comprehensive economic calculations, leaving us with fatigued women who have fewer weekly leisure hours than their male counterparts.

Unpaid work by women contributes significantly to the economy; one SBI analysis states that it accounts for 7.5% of GDP. Put another way, women not only carry out the majority of household chores, but they also contribute to GDP growth. However, they are not functioning in the official logs.

The way governments value this employment has to be changed. India has the ability to advocate for and spearhead modifications to the globally agreed-upon System of National Accounts, enabling them to be integrated into other aspects of national governance, such as GDP computations and census inquiries. Women’s labour is invisible when it isn’t counted, which has consequences for labour and employment laws. For instance, statistical invisibility places home labour “beyond the purview of protective labour legislation,” which establishes guidelines for work hours and working conditions. In India, women work 1.5 hours more a day than men do, frequently for little pay and in unhygienic circumstances.

An additional aspect

There is more to this image than just encouraging women to work outside the house. Single-income homes are frequently unfeasible in low-income families because both parents work out of need. This signals the start of the breakdown of the caregiver-breadwinner paradigm. More frequently than not, low-income women are working without assistance. Again, due to volatility, the data does not reflect this: women’s employment habits are seasonal, intermittent, and irregular, and they frequently work from home to support family enterprises.

According to a research, 44% of women were in the workforce when looking at a four-month timeframe, while just 2% of women were included when looking at a four-year period. They are unable to work often due to domestic responsibilities, and when they do, it’s usually while carrying children. Harvard researchers reported in 2013 that kids were playing in the shadow of hazardous machinery and heavy pollutants at construction sites. It puts their lives and health in jeopardy while they are under three years old, which is the critical age for brain development. The foundation for all ensuing initiatives and government spending on health, education, and skill development is so inadequate.

With 1.4 million facilities, the government currently oversees the Anganwadi system, the world’s biggest public child services system, serving 80 million children up to the age of six. These facilities work best in a rural environment where locals join together to engage. Nevertheless, women still require extra care alternatives if they want to work an eight and a half-hour shift because they are only open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

India is becoming a more urbanised country, and its women need different role models. One alternative is provided by creches: as of 2020, the National Creche Scheme ran about 6,500 crèches throughout the nation. In addition to providing a secure, caring environment for children who might otherwise be exposed at work, creches assist mothers in developing stable professions. High-income families may access services from the private sector, which acknowledges this need. The daycare and preschool ecosystem is valued at ₹31,256 crore and is projected to increase at an 11.2% CAGR through 2028. Therefore, it is essential that the public sector increase its already significant efforts to combat income disparity and ensure that everyone has access to high-quality child services.

In comparison to China’s 61%, Bangladesh’s 38%, Nepal’s 29%, and Pakistan’s 25%, India’s women’s labour force participation rate (FLFPR) is now 32.8%, according to official sources, and 24% according to the World Bank. There are several stereotypes about women’s labour that need to be busted, and women’s work has to be accurately counted and encouraged if India is to boost its FLPR and empower its women.

-Dr. Abhishek Verma

 


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