Despite their educational qualification and work experience, women will be discriminated in the labour market due to societal and employer prejudices, says Oxfam India in its latest ‘India Discrimination Report’.

The lower wages for salaried women are due to discrimination (67 percent) and lack of education and work experience (33 percent), it said, calling on the Government to enforce measures for the protection of equal wages and work for all women. The Government should also incentivise the participation of women in the workforce including enhancements in pay, upskilling, job reservations and easy return-to-work options after maternity, it said.

The report’s findings are based on the Government’s data on employment and labour from 2004-05 to 2019-20. It refers to unit level data from the 61st round National Sample Survey (NSS) data on employment-unemployment (2004-05), the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and All India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) by the Union Government, an Oxfam India note said.

Social backgrounds

“Discrimination in the labour market is when people with identical capabilities are treated differently because of their identity or social backgrounds. There have been very limited attempts made to measure the extent of discrimination and its impact on the lives of marginalised communities in India so far. There have been even fewer attempts to quantify discrimination through rigorous research methods and credible data,”said Amitabh Behar, Chief Executive of Oxfam India, adding that their analysis tried to understand inequality and discrimination when it came to accessing jobs, income, health and agricultural credits across the country.

The findings of the report indicate discrimination as a driving factor behind the low women’s Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in the country. According to the Union Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, LFPR for women in India was only 25.1 percent in 2020-21 for urban and rural women. And this is lower than Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa as per World Bank estimates, the note said.