The declining employment rate of Indian urban women is concerning, why?

My aunt is a public school teacher and also the first person who planted the seeds of professionalism in me. Growing up and seeing her do her job with pure perfection and commitment gave me so much joy. It is not wrong to say that she was also the first person to introduce me to the definition of employed women. Since then my life has been blessed with many amazing women excelling at their jobs.

While studying at an educational institution for women and observing the world of work closely, I have also noticed that there are enough women who can contribute significantly to the labor force, but who do not unfortunately they don’t. As we delve deeper into the analysis of female employment trends, the visibility of women in jobs and the employment sector as a whole begins to fade.

Lower employment rate of Indian urban women

This downward trend in female employment rates is not exclusive to any particular sector, but rather can be observed across all sectors. Even though there has recently been an increase in education levels, a significant drop in fertility rates and a growth in infrastructure, women’s participation in the labor market has continued to decline. In 2017, the female labor force participation rate fell to an all-time low. According to World Bank (2017), India had the lowest FLFPR in the world, with only Arab countries in the world ranked lower than the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the circumstances, specifically for urban women. Data from the Consumer Pyramids Households Survey showed that the labor force participation rate of urban women fell to 7.35% in the first month of lockdown, before dropping to 7.2% in October and 6.9% in November.

As we talk about declining employment rates among urban women, it is crucial to understand the reasons for this.

According to the research paper “Why is female labor force participation declining so sharply in India?” published by the International Labor Office (2014), there are four identified reasons behind the drop i) Increased attendance of educational institutions; ii) Increase in household income; iii) Changes in measurement methodology through surveys, and iv) Insufficient employment opportunities for women.

Suggested reading: Career versus family: why society needs to stop burdening women with this unfair choice

The downward trend in female employment rates in urban areas is worrisome for the country’s growth. Urban areas are engines of growth for a country and the country can only prosper when the population of men and women work there. He can’t rely on just one sex. The declines also bring us back to the gender gap prevalent in India, while a majority of the contribution comes from the social structure of the nation, the economic reasons are equally valid. The COVID19 pandemic has increased this gender gap tenfold and it would take us many years to recover.

Research also shows that if women are given equal employment opportunities, it can increase the country’s GDP by almost 10%.

Lower employment rates among urban women translate directly into lower income levels and an increased concentration of women in unorganized sector occupations, further adding to the existing gender gap in the quality of employment. gender distribution of jobs. Another issue the country needs to address is that these declining employment rates also mean that women still lack jobs that recognize their qualifications and contributions. Women are still considered secondary sources of income in households and the lack of employment opportunities prevents them from raising their social position.

This becomes yet another reason why the female population is poorer than the male population. Also in economic terms, the contribution of women is not properly valued and when this is accompanied by low employment rates, it becomes much more difficult to overcome gender bias. Research also shows that if women are given equal employment opportunities, it can increase the country’s GDP by almost 10%. Overall, women’s employment is a critical issue that requires immediate attention.

The struggle is not just about numbers, but goes way back in the biases and prejudices that the community has faced since the dawn of time. It should also be noted that urban women are major contributors to growth and the lack of opportunities for them means wasting a high proportion of the skilled and sufficient population.

I changed three schools in my entire school life, but as I moved up to higher grades, year by year, the number of female teachers teaching me decreased more and more. A career presented to me by women was no longer theirs. I have a vivid memory of being taught by all the male teachers in my twelfth grade. Fast forward to today, having lived twenty years of my life and also been a critical spectator of the world of work, I have fortunately or perhaps unfortunately identified what is happening in my city and hope that you can identify it too!