- In India, the unemployment rate for women is significantly higher than that of men.
Causes of the gender unemployment gap in India:
- In general, women are discriminated against in jobs, and hence despite their low participation in the labour force, their unemployment rate is so high. This fact is more pronounced when we add to it that, currently, India is producing more graduate women than men. This means the high unemployment rate of women is not due to a lack of education compared to men.
- Lack of suitable infrastructure and working environment for women. For example, a man can work and travel till late at night, but the same thing becomes a safety concern for a woman.
- The COVID pandemic impacted women’s participation in the workforce. Due to increased domestic work, lack of childcare options, school shut-downs, and a fall in job opportunities due to a fall in the economy itself, many women failed to get back into the labour force, and many of them went back to doing unpaid care work at home.
- The stereotype that women should stay at home and take care of the house still persists in some parts of India, which discourages women from pursuing any jobs. Because of this preconception, women’s unemployment rose even as India’s economy was showing high growth.
- Gender stereotypes such as women should not work need to end. Awareness programs should be conducted to bring a change in societal attitudes.
- The government should come up with policies focusing on increasing the percentage of women in the workforce.
- Women’s participation in the formal economy needs to be increased, for which jobs need to become more suitable for women which can be achieved by building better infrastructure like safe transportation, working street lights for night and good sanitation facilities should be built. Flexible workspaces and work from home opportunities can help in increasing female labour participation in India.
- In order to reduce the pressure on women to stay at home, the government should provide quality child care.
According to the economist, India’s GDP would increase three times if women’s employment was equal to that of men. We should be concerned because, despite India’s aspirations to become a global superpower, the women who make up over half of our population still face negative stereotypes and a lack of opportunities. Ensuring women’s safety and the provision of more flexible workspaces and WFH opportunities must be our top priorities if we are to truly become a superpower.
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