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The ripple effect of gender inclusivity on India’s economy

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    10th Aug, 2021

Context

Archaic age-old practices that promote Gender segregation at an early age make it increasingly difficult for women to enter the workforce.

Understanding inclusive growth and gender equality

  • Inclusive growth means economic growth that creates jobs and helps reduce poverty.
  • It means access to essential health and education services for the poor. It includes providing equal opportunities, empowering people through education and skills development.
  • It also includes a process of growth that is environmentally friendly, aimed at good governance and helping to build a gender-responsive society.
  • Gender equality will be achieved only when women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. This means sharing equally, power and influence, and having equal opportunities in economic and social spheres. Equal claim on education and career prospects will enable women to realize their personal ambitions.
  • Gender equality demands the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives.
  • When women are empowered, the whole family benefit, thus benefiting the society as a whole and these benefits often have a ripple effect on future generations.

Findings of the survey

To study the impact of gender diversity on employee productivity

  • 30% of the employees did not interact with the opposite gender outside of their family, while in school.
  • More than 30% of the surveyed call centre employees were from rural areas.
  • It was not expensive for firms to integrate women into all-male workplaces.
  • There is no negative impact on either productivity or the share of days worked during the study period, of being assigned to a mixed-gender team for male employees.
  • Men with progressive gender attitudes assigned to mixed-gender teams had significantly higher productivity than those with regressive gender attitudes.
  • The study also revealed that, for female employees, there was an increase in peer monitoring and comfort among those assigned to mixed-gender teams.

Why India is lagging behind?

  • Burden of traditional practice: Women remain subject to traditional practices that define their primary role as home.
  • Lack of monetary support: As a result, women often do not receive the money needed to start or grow a business, as well as the necessary training in today's labour market.
  • Lack of participation: The main problem is participation. Currently, only a quarter of workers in India are women.

Obstacles:

  • Female presence: There are significant barriers to developing a growing female presence in productive fields (19%), and increasing the number of hours spent by women (9%).
  • Unpaid care work: Women are burdened with unpaid care work, which is ten times the rate for men. If the amount of unpaid work done by women is compensated for even less, India's economic output could rise by $ 300 billion.
  • Poor condition of existing legal infrastructure: The legal protection afforded to women is another challenge, where the existing infrastructure is inadequate for sexual harassment and paid maternity leave, but the legal right to equal pay and parental leave is severely limited.
  • Unequal representation: The lack of a legal framework can also be caused by another important challenge - the unequal representation of the law for women. Only 11% of India's lower house members are women.
  • Social and economic challenges: Other challenges include important social and economic challenges such as selective abortions and violence against women.

How to bring women into the paid workforce?

  • Expanding reach of employment: The ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY) and the software technology parks of India (STPI) are interested in expanding these call centres to smaller cities and villages, and providing special incentives to firms to hire women.
  • Boost to labour demand: In a post-pandemic world, policymakers will need to provide fiscal stimulus to boost labour demand in India’s economy.
  • Incentivizing firm to hire women: Policies which incentivise firms to hire women can bring them into the paid workforce.
  • Progressive gender attitudes: There is also a need for improving gender attitudes as a policy measure to increase hiring female workers.

Increasing Gender Parity in Future Work

  • There is an increase in occupational gender segregation in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It is portrayed as a major challenge for gender parity as far as the future of jobs is concerned.
  • The GGGR mentions, “Only two of the eight tracked “jobs of tomorrow” clusters (People & Culture and Content Production) have reached gender parity, while most show a severe underrepresentation of women.”

Way Ahead

Gender-positive recovery policies can help meet these challenges:

  • The investment should be increased in the care sector. The similar increase should be into equitable access to care leave for both genders.
  • National government should come forward with policies that arrest occupational segregation by gender.
  • To attain more gender-equal future of work, nations have to come up with effective mid-career reskilling policies, combined with managerial practices, which embed sound, unbiased hiring and promotion practices. 

Conclusion

Bangladesh, with a lower per capita income than India, is doing significantly better in most indicators of gender equality including sex ratio at birth, female literacy rate, female labour force participation, and gender wage equality, earned income of women and political representation of women. Among other policies, Bangladesh has made this progress due to women empowerment initiatives geared towards strengthening social acceptance of women’s work. Therefore, investments in workplace interventions involving gender equality training by firms in India might be beneficial in improving their productivity and profits.

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