If more women participate, Indian economy will see double-digit growth:World Bank
After women’s labour force participation in India fell sharply from 40 percent in the early 2000s to 27 percent in 2011–2012, policymakers and global organisations have sounded the alarms stating that this low participation may be a significant reason why double-digit growth rate evades us as an economy.
The percentage of Indian women employed in labour is among the lowest in the world. A World Bank report released yesterday explained how the Indian economy would be on track to achieve this goal of double-digit growth, and match the pace of China, if the Centre makes reforms in order to drive more participation of women in the country’s workforce.
Two-thirds of the decline in participation stated earlier may be attributed to the fact that India has been unable to generate enough jobs in the manufacturing and services sectors. The remaining one-third has been due to an increasing number of girls between 15 and 24 opting to procure an education, and hence, a better qualification. Having said that, the report also pointed out that nearly two-thirds of these qualified Indian women, that is women holding college degrees, are unemployed—this rate being much higher than that in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Brazil.
The report suggests that the Indian government adopt a more female- and labour-intensive export growth strategy, and take inspiration from the Bangladesh model. The government could also employ indirect measures like improving work connectivity, and giving an impetus to women entrepreneurs, who may, in turn, be instrumental in hiring women staffers and fostering inclusivity and gender diversity in the workforce. Not only will these reforms mean increased household earnings but they will also foster better health and education conditions for children.
Being Asia’s third-largest economy, India has grown at around seven percent year on year, while China has sustained double-digit progress for three decades, successfully reducing poverty and increasing per capita income.
Since taking office in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a programme for skill development and also set up a subsidised loan scheme for businesses led by women.
In that regard, PM Modi has instated a $1 billion fiscal package for the textile sector, with the goal of generating employment for women. The National Programme for Skill Development, increasing maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks, and loan subsidies for women entrepreneurs are also endeavours made in order to push for women empowerment in the workplace.