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Ways to achieve Economic Recovery – Why women’s participation is crucial for rapid economic growth?

Ways to achieve Economic Recovery – Why women’s participation is crucial for rapid economic growth?

Relevance:

  • GS3 || Society || Women || Development Approaches to Women

Why in the news?

The dynamism of our global economy is truly unprecedented. And, in an environment like todays, change is far from the exception—it is the rule.An increase in women’s labor force participation has the potential to drive global growth.

Context:

  • One change in particular can have a direct impact on creating a more equitable international system, ultimately driving sustainable development across the world.
  • That change is working to increase women’s economic participation and foster an inclusive economy, which has the potential to drive growth and positively impact all global citizens.
  • In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, female labour force participation in India and South Asia was 20.5% and 23.5%, respectively (ILO estimates, World Bank database).
  • Comparable estimates for males were 76% and 77%, respectively. The Middle East and North Africa are the only regions with lower female participation than South Asia

Participation of women in economy at present:

  • At Present the pandemic has made this situation worse. It has hit women disproportionately — because they work in sectors that have been the hardest hit; work more than men do in the informal economy; or because they are the primary caregivers at home.
  • Owing to Covid-19, global female employment is 19%more at risk than male employment (ILO estimates). For India, economist Ashwini Deshpande estimates that compared to men, women were 9.5% less likely to be employed in August 2020 compared to August 2019.
  • Four areas women participation:
    • First, address child care-related issues, a critical barrier to women’s labour force participation.The biggest dividends will come from focusing on women in the informal sector. In India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, 76, 89, 71 and 66% of working women, respectively, are employed on own account or as family workers (ILO).
    • Second, tackle the digital divide. In India in 2019, internet users were 67% male and 33%female, and this gap is even bigger in rural areas. This divide can become a barrier for women to access critical education, health and financial services, or to achieve success in activities or sectors that are becoming more digitized
    • Third, in the formal sector, use the income tax system to push female labour force participation.Women have a higher elasticity of labour supply than men (their labour supply is more responsive to their take-home wages) — lower income taxes for women can incentivise their participation.
    • Fourth, mainstream gender-disaggregated data collection and monitoring. What is measured gets acted upon. Globally, major gaps in gendered data and the lack of trend data make it hard to monitor progress

Participation of women in economy:

  • Globally, there are 27 States in which women account for less than 10 per cent of parliamentarians in single or lower houses, as of February 2019, including 3 chambers with no women at all. Only 24.3 percent of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019, a slow increase from 11.3 per cent in 1995. As of June 2019, 11 women are serving as Head of State and 12 are serving as head of Government
  • Around the world, women perform two-thirds of the work for 10 per cent of the income and only 1 percent of the assets. Women also constitute 70 percent of the world’s poor. Women’s earning still lags that of men’s; they earn on average 30 percent of men’s wages in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region and between 60 and 70 percent in East Asia.
  • In India:
    • Women in rural India play a dual role–producers of goods and services as well as their domestic chores and wives and mothers–yet their contribution to economic development has been neglected.
    • The socioeconomic conditions of 200 rural women respondents from the villages of Makanpur (100 women) and Varsaitpur (100 women). In terms of general household activities, women were found to contribute 73% of the labor in Makanpur and 70% in Varsaitpur.
    • Women’s contributions were greater in the Scheduled Castes and among Muslims. In terms of agricultural activities, women contributed 40% in Makanpur (66% of agricultural labor) and 40% in Varsaitpur (59% of agricultural labor).
    • Taken together, women’s contribution to economic activities was 52% in Makanpur–the less prosperous village–and 49% in Varsaitpur–the village more influenced by technology. The problems most often cited by survey respondents included health, malnutrition, repeated childbearing, and education. If women’s participation in economic development is to be enhanced, women must receive the following services: training in income generating activities, easy access to low-interest loans, and family planning services to limit childbearing.

Importance of Participation of women in economy:

  • Enhancing women’s participation in development is essential not only for achieving social justice but also for reducing poverty.
  • Worldwide experience shows clearly that supporting a stronger role for women contributes to economic growth, it improves child survival and overall family health, and it reduces fertility, thus helping to slow population growth rates.
  • Investing in women is central to sustainable development. And yet, despite these known returns, women still face many barriers in contributing to and benefiting from development.
  • The barriers begin with comparatively low investment in female education and health, they continue with restricted access to services and assets, and they are made worse by legal and regulatory constraints on women’s opportunities.

Reason for low contribution of women in economy:

  • Social Norms: Patriarchy plays a vital role in depriving women of their equal economic rights. Women in India are traditionally taught to be financially dependent, and independence acts as a threat to male dominance. Restrictions are imposed on them at an early stage of education itself. Which ultimately leads to no professional or job-based skills.Women eventually lose their enthusiasm for participating in the workforce.
  • Gender Wage Gap: In India, women are paid 34% less than men on an average.This discrimination discourages women from participating in economic activities. The gender wage gap causes a sense of inferiority.As women have to struggle between paid work and unpaid work (family chores), the wage gap disparity does not award them with the status they deserve. Because of which, they are often forced to choose between workforce participation and unpaid work.
  • Poverty and Illiteracy: Poverty plays a huge role in economic inclusion.Poverty at first stage snatches the educational rights from women, because of which they are unable to fulfill even basic job requirements in future. Only 65.46% are provided with primary education in India.Poverty also forces women to do work, which offers merely food only enough to stay alive. This kind of employment is not a fair inclusion of women in the economy; instead, it takes a toll on their health.Illiteracy leads to economic exclusion as well as social exclusion, which consequently widens the length and breadth of gender discrimination.
  • No safe work environment: Lack of safety norms and gender discrimination at work place is one of the reason for low ratio of women in office,

Economic Inclusion of Women leads to Social Inclusion

  • Empowering women ensures social progress and mobility. Equal footing with men in the economy helps women in practicing their social rights too.
  • Women who practice their right in the economy regardless of their caste, family background, religion, race, and other aspects are financially independent and do not depend on someone else for their survival.
  • This independence drives acknowledgement of freedom to explore further opportunities and develop personally while contributing to the sustainable development of the country.
  • There is famous saying “Women with income take themselves more seriously and they are taken more seriously.”
  • Economic inclusion gives access to resources, enhancing opportunities, voice, and respect for the rights to women, who are generally intersected with different forms of socio-economic inequality. Social inclusion is the key to development.
  • Participation of women in the labor force also promotes employment of more women at different hierarchical levels of the company/organization. As the participation of women in the workforce increases, they work more productively, and unpaid work like child care and household chores are divided, which slaughters the gender roles prevailing in the society.

Government For women’s Economic Empowerment

  • As women work in the informal sector with low wages and no social protection, Indian government and governments across the world are working towards the economic inclusion of women.
  • An ICRW publication stated, “Economically empowering women is essential both to realize women’s right and to achieve broader development goals of economic growth.”
  • India, with a low rate of women participation in the workforce, has launched several schemes to encourage women and provide them economical as well as social inclusion.
  • Some of the schemes are:
    • Support to Training and Employment Programme( STEP) for Women—launched with the aim of upgrading the skills of marginalized women.This includes wage laborers, unpaid workers, and family below the poverty line.
    • Mahila-E- Haat: It is an initiative for meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs; the scheme was launched to provide financial inclusion to women entrepreneurs in the economy.
    • Mahila Shakti Kendras: This scheme is launched to empower rural women through community participation to realize their full potential.
  • And many other schemes are being launched for women to reap the benefits of prosperity and enjoy socio-economic rights.

Conclusion:

We are living in developing nation India where constitution has given equal right to each individual, but yet there is social disparity in gender that is taken nation at back foot, govt. has taken many steps but those can only be executed in reality when society comes together eradicate gender discrimination.

Mains oriented question:

“Women with income take themselves more seriously and they are taken more seriously.” How far this statement is correct in context women participation in economy? Comment. (200 words)