Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] Women in Workforce

The Global Gender Gap Report estimates that raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP significantly. Over the last few years more women have taken up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses and are aspiring to enter the workforce. However, dropout rates among women is also high, particularly around marriage, maternity and motherhood.
By IT's Video Summary Team
March 19, 2020


  • Introduction
  • Factors for skewed gender gap at work
  • Women and Stereotypes
  • Measures taken to address the problem
  • Significance of Women Participation
  • Way Forward
  • Conclusion

Women in Workforce

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As per the data from Azad Foundation, non- government organisation tabled on the International Women’s Day, women workforce in the country fell to 18 % in 2019 from 37 % in 2006. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report this year ranks India at 149th position out of 153 countries on economic participation and opportunity.

Factors for skewed gender gap at work:

1. Women opting for higher education: 

  • One of the reasons for lesser number of women in the workforce is that more number of women are opting for higher education.
  • This can be accounted by an estimate that around 52% of the total students enrolled in under graduation are women and 42% enrollment in PhDs are women.

2. Lack of infrastructure:

  • It has been observed that if women are provided with three basic facilities like: Quality transport, Safety and Child care facilities, they show maximum participation as a workforce and realize their full potential.
  • Indian cities are lacking in at least one of these or in worse case all of the indicators, hence the rate of women workforce participation is dismal.

3. Safety:

  • Safety is the prime concern for women to participate in jobs or organisation.
  • The level of crime in Tier1 and Tier 2 cities is alarming and has become impediment in women participation.

4. Shift from agriculture:

  • In the rural areas too, women workforce is shrinking, this can be attributed to the loss of agriculture.
  • Agriculture, has become less profitable and due to lack of manufacturing sector in India, women who have left agriculture are not participating in the GDP of the country, and which in turn has become the cause of the shrinking number of women workforce in current years.

Women and Stereotypes:

1. Burden to stay at home:

  • Traditionally the burden to stay at home and take care of families has always been vested with women.
  • With the finances of the country slowly improving, and with new definition of home maker, women are taking the legacy still forward.
  • Further, the rate of crimes against children, both indoors and outdoors have increased and for quality parenting, women often sacrifice their career.

2. Management:

  • Managing office and family becomes more stressful for women as compared to men, hence, they avoid full time employment.

3. Maternity law:

  • The Maternity laws have empowered the women but have posed the problems like employers avoid giving employment to young women. 

4. Men’s Job:

  • The notion that particular set of jobs belong to men and women can’t fare well in them, has disabled women to take leadership roles and entrepreneurship.

Measures taken to address the problem:

1. The Maternity leave (Amendment) Act 2017:

  • Maternity leave in India is a paid leave of absence from work that allows women employees the benefit of taking care of their newly born, and at the same time retain their jobs.
  • The Maternity (Amendment) Act 2017 has extended the leaves in the Maternity leave Benefit Act 1961 from earlier 12 weeks’ leave to 26 weeks. The pregnant employee can bifurcate the leave as post and pre-delivery. 8 weeks of leave can opt before the delivery and remaining post-childbirth.

2. National Creche Scheme:

  • The National Creche Scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development is a centrally Sponsored Scheme running in States/UTs with effect from January 1, 2017 to provide day care facilities to children (age group of 6 months to 6 years) of working mothers in the community.
  • It aims at providing a safe place for mothers to leave their children while they are at work, and thus is a measure for empowering women as it enables them to take up employment.

3. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

  • The Act is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.
  • This statute superseded the Vishaka Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) introduced by the Supreme Court (SC) of India.
  • This contribute to realization of their right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere.

4. Factories Act, 1948:

  • The Factories Act, 1948 has formulating national policies in India with respect to occupational safety and health in factories and docks in India.
  • It ensures safe commuting facility for women.

Significance of Women Participation:

1. Societal significance:

i. For a Company:

  • Providing a different point of view.
  • Understanding the problems faced by opposite genders, or Gender sensitivity.
  • Boosting the emotional quotient of the company and developing mutual understanding among co-workers.

ii. For an Individual and Family:

  • Gaining Financial independence, Tolerance, discipline, Time management, multi-tasking.
  • Raising the standards of living and money circulation.
  • Contribution to the family and society.

2. Economic significance:

  • The Global Gender Gap Report estimates that raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP significantly.
  • If around 50% of the potential workforce (women) in the country is not working, it will lead to great asymmetry, Gender gap and negative implication on the GDP of the country.

Way Forward:

  • Building the element of trust and evolve as a society.
  • Imparting Gender sensitivity right from families and educational institutions.
  • Be more progressive and less regressive.
  • Improving pay parity and giving leadership roles to women.
  • Gender neutral environment at the workplace.
  • Checking effective ground level implementation of laws made for women.
  • Increasing manufacturing sector and small scale cottage industries to enable participation of rural women.
  • Options like working from home and flexible working hours.
  • Encouraging women to take entrepreneurship.
  • Investing in women education.


The declining women’s labour force participation, gender pay gap, high rates of informal work with lack of social security are seen as impediments to the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women. The need of the hour is to explore empowering options for women and provide them with a sense of security at the workplace to improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth.

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