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Number of Women in Workforce Falls Significantly in India! Why is it so?

Swati Sharma quit her job soon after her older daughter was born six years ago because of long working hours and lack of suitable childcare facilities. Women in workforce in India are facing challenges. VOA
  • India needs to reverse the declining rates of women in the labor market to push growth
  • An estimated 20 million Indian women have dropped out of the workforce over the last decade
  • Three of every five prime working age Indian women (26-45 years old) are not economically active

New Delhi, June 06, 2017: Using a work-from-home facility, Swati Sharma worked for a few months after her baby was born six years ago but quit when her company withdrew the option.

“They wanted people to come to work every day, it became very difficult,” she said, pointing out that child care facilities near her home in New Delhi did not have high standards.

Stories of women leaving jobs are common: An estimated 20 million Indian women have dropped out of the workforce over the last decade, both in sprawling cities and the vast countryside where fewer women now work on farms.

It’s a staggering number that researchers are trying to decode.

Indian economy is robust

Despite India’s buoyant economy, female employment has fallen dramatically over the last decade. Only 27 percent of women are in the workforce compared to about 40 percent in the mid-1990s. That is less than many lower-income countries like neighboring Bangladesh or other emerging economies like Brazil.

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A World Bank study released recently says India needs to reverse the declining rates of women in the labor market to push growth.

The study said three of every five prime working age Indian women (26-45 years old) are not economically active.

Higher incomes play role

But not all the reasons are negative. An era of high growth has increased household incomes and propelled millions of families into the middle and upper-middle class. The relative household affluence has given many women the option to drop out of the workforce.

In the lower-income strata, better incomes for farm and construction labor also resulted in many poor families in rural areas educating girls. As a result, the number of those between 15 and 25 years in school and college has doubled to 30 percent.

“Many of these young women who were working before perhaps out of necessity are now in school and building up their human capital,” said Frederico Gil Sander, senior economist at the World Bank in New Delhi.

More jobs needed for the well-educated

However not all women stay at home because there is a dearth of suitable opportunities.

“If you survey women, many of the women they want to work, but the fact is that not enough jobs are being created that women can take up,” Sander said.

Garima Verma, who relocated from New Delhi to Jaipur, says there are fewer job opportunities for women in smaller towns compared with the large cities. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

In an urbanizing country, while large cities offer regular jobs in services and manufacturing, similar avenues are not available in smaller towns.

Garima Verma, 32, for example, quit her job a year ago because she wanted a break. But some months later she moved from New Delhi to Jaipur and says finding a suitable job in a smaller city has not been easy.

“Lesser (opportunities) I would say as compared to metros definitely,” she said.

Indian workplaces can be unfriendly to women

But even in booming urban centers, women often find it hard to stay the course, partly because most Indian companies have rigid work structures and reliable child care facilities are few and far between.

Sairee Chahal, founder of SHEROES, a portal for women job seekers, said in an era of global competition, extended work hours have become the norm at most workplaces. And patriarchal attitudes in a conservative society do not help.

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“Firms are very unwelcoming around the need for flexibility, maternity is still considered a challenge. And while women have made it to the workplace, men have not picked up stuff at home and that continues to burden women at home,” Chahal said.

A need for more high tech jobs

The low participation of women in the workforce is especially surprising in a country where a large number of college graduates are women – women like Garima Verma and Swati Sharma, who both have college degrees.

“Even highly educated women are not working and this is in a way a form of a brain drain,” Sander said. “Only 34 percent of women with either a diploma or college degree are working.”

Pointing out that this includes a large number of women graduates in science and technology, the World Bank said India needs to create opportunities to tap this human capital.

Swati Sharma, for example, would like to return to work once her 6-month-old baby is a little older, but with working conditions in companies too challenging, she is taking a course so that she can teach “the only option left for me,” she said.

The World Bank said the key to closing the gender gap is to create more jobs, especially regular salaried jobs that are flexible and can be safely accessed by women.

But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, warns human resources professional Chahal, and reversing the declining trend poses many challenges.

“We do have women who are educated – basically all set and nowhere to go, all set and no doors opening for you,” she said. (Benar News)

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Four hacks for women’s wellness

Yoga is known to be the ultimate healer for the soul and body. Pixabay
  • For most women, wellness takes a back seat
  • It is very important for women to take care of health
  • There are very simple things they can do to take care of themselves

Wellness takes a backseat for most women, what with a hectic schedule taking care of work, home, and all the people in their lives. This Women’s Day, encourage the women in your life to make themselves a priority and practice these simple wellness tips to improve their overall well-being.

It is  very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram
It is very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram

Dr Hariprasad, Ayurveda Expert, The Himalaya Drug Company, recommends the following tips to help women become healthier without having to take too much time out of their busy schedule.

Get enough sleep: The function of sleep is to not only relax the body, but also rest and restore the mind. It is necessary to heal and repair your heart and blood vessels. While you can function for a while without getting the necessary amount of sleep every day, it will eventually take a toll on you. Commit to sleeping a minimum of seven hours a day while aiming for eight, and you will feel yourself getting healthier and happier in a short amount of time. This will help you achieve both mental and physical wellness, and your mind and body will be at ease.

Also Read: It is very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram

Keep up energy levels: Use an energy booster like chyavanaprasha for that extra push you need to achieve your daily goals. Chyavanaprasha, which has amalaki (Indian gooseberry), gives that supplementary dose of antioxidants, in addition to boosting your energy levels. Along with this, try quick exercises like stretching and jogging to keep those endorphins flowing.

Practice preventive care: Long-term wellness is a better approach than seeking short-term solutions for the problem at hand. Having Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) can help you practice preventive care by building your immunity. According to Ayurveda texts and modern research, Guduchi increases immunity against infections by increasing the effectiveness of disease-fighting white blood cells. These fight infections and influence various other immune effector cells, ensuring early recovery. Including Guduchi in your daily diet will help increase the body’s resistance to stress and illness. It can help reduce the chances of facing health problems altogether, rather than simply resorting to curative measures when it arises.

yoga asanas
Women wellbeing is often ignored. Pixabay

Set aside some me-time: Take some time out for yourself during the day to just breathe and reflect on your day. You can do this in a structured manner using yoga and meditation techniques, but the important part is to consistently carve time out from your day for yourself. Setting aside even 10 minutes will help you relax and feel more in control of your day. You will feel the frustrations of your day melt away, leaving you to face the rest of the day with a calmer mind and a more positive outlook. IANS