India ranks 120th among 131 nations in women workforce, says World Bank report
Incentives, safe and conducive environment besides a level playing field were critical to boost women participation in the Indian workforce, the World Bank said.
In its India Development Report released on Monday, the World Bank said the country had one of the lowest female participation in the workforce , ranking 120th among 131 countries for which data was available. While overall job creation has been limited, most of the new ones have been grabbed by men given the social norms, the report said.
What is worrisome is the fact that the participation level has been dropping since 2005, despite having 42% women who are graduates. The report highlighted that India’s potential GDP growth rate can be boosted by a percentage point if women participation increased.
Jobs for Indian women remain primarily in the agriculture sector. The share of women in services and industry is less than 20%.
Listing out the reasons for a decline in women participation in the workforce, Frederico Gil Sander, senior country economist, World Bank, said that while a larger number of younger women in India was opting to study in schools, many were dropping out of the workforce due to lack of job opportunities and others due to rising income levels.
“Concerns about women’s safety are strong and often genuine while flexibility, availability of childcare and adequate pay are important given social norms that require women to reconcile work with household duties,” the report said.
“One reason why women participation in the workforce has come down is because a larger number of younger women are opting to stay in schools,” Sander said.
However, what could be a cause for concern is the fact that those women who are moving out of the agriculture are not being able to find jobs elsewhere. “Women want to work but there are not enough jobs being created,” he said.
Sander also said that amid lower rate of job generation, most regular jobs were being grabbed by men. India created only 0.9% jobs equivalent of the adult population between 2005 and 2012.
In India, the women participation was just at 27% compared to China and Brazil where it was between 65-70%. Even in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the figure was higher.
According to the report, women entrepreneurs typically create more jobs for women but in India the number is few.
“This is a cause for concern since higher labour earnings are the primary driver of poverty reduction,” Junaid Ahmad, World Bank country director said.