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19th October 2023 (9 Topics)

The measure of the working woman

Context:

Women's unpaid domestic work, though often overlooked, contributes significantly to the economy, accounting for 7.5% of the GDP.

Unpaid Women's Work and Economic Growth

  • Double Burden of Unpaid Work: Women in India bear the "double burden" of working outside the home while still shouldering household responsibilities. This leads to lower leisure time compared to men.
  • Undervalued Contribution: Women's unpaid work, including care for children, the sick, and the elderly, is not factored into economic estimates. It amounts to 5% of the GDP, boosting the economy.
  • Policy Reforms Needed: India should advocate for changes in the System of National Accounts to recognize and value women's unpaid labor, impacting everything from GDP calculations to labor laws.

Challenges Faced by Low-Income Women

  • Disrupted Employment Patterns: Low-income women often face irregular work patterns, making them less visible in official data. They contribute significantly to family businesses and face challenges in securing regular employment.
  • Childcare and Work: Limited childcare options force women to bring their children to work, endangering their safety and development. Public initiatives like the Anganwadi system and National Creche Scheme need to be further supported and expanded.
  • Urbanization Demands New Models: As India urbanizes rapidly, there is a pressing need for alternative support systems, such as creches, to enable women to work steadily and provide safe environments for their children.

Empowering Women in the Labor Force

  • Low Labor Force Participation Rate: India's women's labor force participation rate is considerably lower than neighboring countries like China and Bangladesh. Dispelling myths around women's work is crucial for empowerment.
  • Need for Fair Support Systems: Recognizing and valuing women's work is only one part of the solution. Adequate support systems, such as extended childcare services, are essential for women to participate fully in the labor force.
  • Closing the Gender Gap: To raise the women's labor force participation rate, it is imperative to not only count women's work appropriately but also provide fair and accessible support systems for them.
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