Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] Tapping potential of India’s other half


Mains Paper 1: Role of Women

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  Female labour force participation rate in India is around 27% which is abysmally low in comparison to China and Western nations. This article gives some reasons for the same and solutions of how to increase female work participation.




India has a low female work participation ratio.

In global context women outnumber men in positions with lower salary, and are employed in industries that pay less.

Why low female labour force participation?

  1. Among professionals, where equal pay for equal work is the norm, women fall behind because of significant transitions of their lives such as child bearing and rearing.
  2. An American study put the so-called motherhood penalty — the average by which women’s future wages fall at 4 per cent per child, and 10 per cent for the highest-earning and most skilled women.
  3. Society at large gains from its quality reproduction, but the bulk of the cost is borne by women
  4. Wherever there are fewer jobs, men corner the available jobs, as they are seen as the primary wage earners.

What can be done to get more women working and narrow the gender gap?

  1. Flexible working hours and decent conditions of work, including security at the workplace and during the commute to and from the workplace.
  2. The need is for liberal policies such as letting both men and women have equal access to flexible working hours and leave for care.
  3. To let women continue with their work after child birth and enhance the participatory effort by both parents to raise families.
  4. Most countries have adopted contributory pension plans because women who take time out from work to look after the young and earn less than men at a similar stage in their working lives will not be able to build a decent retirement nest.
  5. This is important especially in the West, given high divorce rates among the elderly; but could be a problem in this country as well.

Forgoing women in the workforce is to forgo a large part of the nation’s economic potential.



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