Despite more jobs, fewer women in workforce

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on January 31, 2020

Laboor gender disparity widens as more women relegated to domestic duties

Fewer women are working shoulder to shoulder with men, and more are busier attending to domestic duties. The latest Economic Survey reveals that gender disparity in India’s labour market has widened due to a decline in female labour force participation, especially in rural areas.

Around 60 per cent of women in the productive age group (30-59) are now engaged in full-time domestic duties. As opposed to this, only 0.37 per cent males in the same age group are out of work to attend to domestic duties.

More jobs

There was a significant jump of around 2.62 crore new jobs over this period, with 1.21 crore in rural areas and 1.39 crore in urban areas, the survey claims.

This decrease in the share of casual workers reflects the formalisation in the economy.

But a marginal increase in jobs has not helped women at all. Between 2004-05 and 2017-18, more females than ever in the productive age group moved out of the workforce and relegated to domestic duties, the survey observed.

While in 2004-05, 46.03 per cent women were attending to domestic duties, in 2017-18, this jumped to 65.39 per cent.

Majority of these women are illiterate (26.1 per cent) or have studied up till middle school (24.7 per cent).

Quality of education

The government would do better to boost the quality of education in government schools and institutions, as it will attract back the student population that spend almost double the amount in private institutions. The absence of competition in government schools and low quality have led to more and more students enrolling in private institutions, the survey critically notes.

Expenditure on social services (education, health and others) by the Centre and States, as a proportion of the GDP, increased by 1.5 percentage points from 6.2 to 7.7 per cent, during the period 2014-15 to 2019-20 (Budget Estimates), it says.

Poor health

The government spends only 5.3 per cent of its total expenditure on health, and 10.6 per cent on education and 10.1 per cent on housing, labour welfare, social security, nutrition and relief on account of natural calamities.

“As percentage to the GDP, only 1.6 per cent is spent on health, whereas the government needs to allocate 2.5 per cent at least to move towards achieving the National Health Policy targets,” said a senior official from the Health Ministry.

As a result of poor education and health facilities, even in 2017-18, up to 80.8 per cent of the population was employed in the unorganised sector, while the rest 19.2 per cent was in the organised sectors (a slight increase of two per cent from 17.3 per cent in 2011-12), say the survey statistics.

Published on January 31, 2020

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