Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Gender pay gap in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women empowerment

women empowermentContext

  • Despite notable progress in closing the gender pay gap over time in India, the gap remains high by international standards. Asymmetries still abound in the country’s labor market stopping women empowerment .
  • Time to reassess the progress made in to close the Gender pay gap.


  • The third International Equal Pay Day is observed globally on September 18, 2022.
  • It is a United Nations-recognized event to highlight the issue of gender pay gap.
  • International Labor Organization’s “Global Wage Report 2020–21” which suggests the crisis inflicted massive downward pressure on wages and disproportionately affected women’s total wages compared to
  • This greater wage reduction for women means that the pre-existing gender pay gap has widened.

women empowermentCovid-19 Impact

  • While it is difficult to tell exactly what the economic damage from the global covid-19 pandemic has been, it is clear that its impact has been uneven, with women being among the worst affected in terms of their income security.
  • Many women reverted to full-time care of children and the elderly during the pandemic, foregoing their livelihoods to do so.

What is gender pay gap?

  • The gender pay gap or gender wage gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce.
  • In simple term it is a measure of what women are paid relative to men.
  • Women are generally found to be paid less than men.

Why is the gender pay gap?

  • Education: low investment o girl education, Girl children are kept out of schools, or made drop out of school at early age, girl is considered as burden on family in many societies.
  • workforce : even if they are educated they are not allowed to work by their families, very limited or no decision making power, lack of women friendly work environment, discriminatory practices at workplaces.
  • Household: early marriage , responsibilities of the household at early age , spending more times on domestic chores,
  • Healthcare: malnutrition, anemia, Maternity, child care, looking after health of the elderly family members etc.


These are some of the reasons which affect education, skills, experience and the career prospectus of women as compared to men and contribute to widen the gender wage gap.


women empowermentDiscrimination as factor

  • A part of gender pay gap attributed to education, skills or experience, a large part of the gender pay gap can still purely because of discrimination based on one’s gender or sex.
  • Gender-based discriminatory practices include: lower wages paid to women for work of equal value; undervaluation of women’s work in highly feminized occupations and enterprises, and motherhood pay gap lower wages for mothers compared to non-mother.

women empowermentStatus in India

  • The gender pay gap in India is among the widest in the world.
  • Indian women earned, on an average, 48% less compared to their male counterparts in 1993-94
  • According to labor force survey data of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) gap declined to 28% in 2018-19.
  • Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS) 2020-21 show an increase in the gap by 7% between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
  • Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 135 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2022.
  • According to the estimates of the World Inequality Report 2022, in India, men earn 82 per cent of the labor income whereas women earn 18 per cent of it.

women empowermentSteps taken by India

  • Minimum Wages Act in 1948: It is an act of parliament, aimed at statutory fixation of minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours. Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour.
  • Equal Remuneration Act in 1976: This act of parliament provides for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the prevention of discrimination. It helps in bridging the gap between unequal remuneration faced by the women of our country.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005: MGNREGA contributed to the rapid rise in overall rural and agricultural wages in the country. It benefited rural women workers and helped reduce the gender pay gap, both directly and indirectly. Directly, by raising the pay levels of women workers and indirectly to women involved in agricultural occupations through higher earnings.
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017: has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees to 26 weeks from 12 weeks for all women working in establishments employing 10 or more workers. This is expected to reduce the motherhood pay gap among mothers in the median and high end wage earners working in the formal economy also it will help in women empowerment.
  • Skill India Mission: To equip women with market-relevant skills to bridge the learning to-livelihood gap and the gender pay gap.
  • In 2019, India carried out comprehensive reforms in both the legislation and enacted the Code on Wages.

Way ahead

  • While the gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, acceleration and bold actions to prevent the widening of gender pay gap is the need of the hour.
  • Equal pay for work of equal value is necessary to close the gender pay gap.
  • Closing the gender pay gap is key to achieving social justice for working women, as well as economic growth for the nation as a whole
  • Without social justice women empowerment is a futile exercise.


Mains Question

Q. Define gender equality .Equal pay for equal work is necessary to bridge the gender pay gap India .Comment.

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