July 17, 2018

Why are Indian women leaving the workforce?

India's economy is booming, but many Indian women have chosen to remove themselves from the country's labour markets.

India is among the world's fastest-growing economies, but fewer women are participating in both its urban and rural labour markets. The World Bank estimates that 27 percent of working-age Indian women have paid jobs, with figures for those working in the agricultural sector projected to be even lower. The World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report also ranks India 108 out of 144 countries on the economic participation and opportunities index - one of the widest gaps in South Asia despite increased enrolment in educational institutions. And although some Indian women actively choose to remain home, others are prevented from joining the workforce due to social and cultural pressures.

The Indian government has attempted to close the labour gap by promoting vocational skills programmes and passing legislation to double the amount of paid maternity leave - but even that move could cause jobs to disappear.

“When you have women on the payroll, you are legally required to provide facilities like a crèche", says Medha Uniyal, programme director of Pratham Institute, a literacy and vocational training organisation. "So, a lot of employers have a clear mandate of not hiring women.”

In this episode, The Stream explores some of the reasons why women in India's formal and informal job sectors are removing themselves from the workplace. 

On this episode of The Stream we speak with:

Sher Singh Verick @sher_verick
Former Deputy Director, ILO India

Rukmini S @Rukmini
Data Journalist

Anita Anand @phooldevi 
Director, Comfirst India Ltd. 

Read more:
Why India needs women to work - The Economist
India slips 21 slots on WEF Gender Gap index 2017 - The Hindu
Motherhood Is Kicking Indian Women Out of Work - Foreign Policy

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