IntroductionParticipation of women in economicactivities is essential not only for women empowerment but more importantly forthe overall development of India. Without faster improvement in participationof women in economic activities progress toward gender equality is notpossible. Participation of women in economic activities in formal sectors ofindustries and services is measurable, but theactivities in informal sectors such as trainingand education of children, activities in agricultural sectors and household servicesare difficult to measure.Now a day’s women’sinvolvement in sectors ranging from politics to business, agriculture toservice sector is rapidly increasing. Inthis backdrop, it would be interesting to measurethe amount of their involvement in economic activity in the mendominated Indian society. Participation in gainful employmentmakes a dramatic difference to women’s life.
In general, the earning women’scontrol over assets increases automatically. It also gives them importance indecision-making and lowers domestic violence.Thecurrent study focuses on the participation of women particularly in the ruralareas.
MethodologySecondary data has been used this research study. Various government reports, periodicalsand e-resources were referred for the study. Labour Force Participation RateLabour force participation rate is a measure of working populationin an economy. It refers to the number of people out of the total populationwho are either employed or are actively looking for work. People who are not looking for a job such as full-timestudents, homemakers, individuals who don’t want to work are notconsidered in labour force. Labour Force Participation Rate is calculated by using followingformula Where the Labour Force = Employed + Unemployed (seeking job) The gender gap in participation rate in labour force is measuredthrough male-female gap between male-female participation rates.
Male-femalelabour force participation rates are shown in table 1. It can be seen from the table that the labour force participation rate ofwomen in India has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years. The drop has beenmost dramatic among women in rural India. The above data reveals that nearly one third (33.1%) ruralwomen were in the labour force in 1993-94, the number dropped to one fourth(25.1%) in 2011-12.
It is clear thatbetween 1993 and 2012 women’s work participation rate dipped by about 8percentage points in rural area over 20 years. The Labour force participation rate of urban women has also dropped in thesame period, though not as dramatically. In urban India, labour forceparticipation rate merely dropped by 1percentage points. Men’s labour forceparticipation rate in rural and urban area not changed much. In fact, labour force participation ratefor men increased by 2 percentage point in urban area. While there is no rural–urban gap in men’s labour force participation rate, but there is a considerablerural-urban gap with respect to women’s labour force participation rate.
The Labour force participation rate forfemales is higher in rural areas than urban areas. Thus, a considerable gendergap exists in both rural and urban areas and the gap is higher in urban areas. According to the Global GenderReport 2015, India was ranked 136 among 144 countries on the economicparticipation and opportunities index. This indicates something is wrong somewhere in our countrythat prevents women from working, resulting ina decrease in their participation rate. Labour Force Participation Rates (%) by Age GroupAs the LFPR of females is generallylower than that of males in both rural and urban areas, it is interesting tofind LFPR by different age groups. These kind of data helps to understandwhether the LFPR for various age groups remains constantor do they vary. LFPR by age groups are presentedin Table 2 below.
The above table shows that, male labourforce participation rate for the age group above 24 years have been more and less the same overthe period. The LFPR for age group 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 years dropped considerablyfrom 1.4% to 0%, 14.
2% to 2.9% and 59.8% to 33.3% respectively. It means that males belonging to these age groups are now largely out of work and more importantly they are takingeducation for their better future since the school enrolment rate increased byaround 5% between 1993-2011, as indicated in the 68th NSS round. Similarly, for the same age-group the female LFPR also dropped significantly. But femaleLFPR for below 14 years is higher than that of male LFPR. Only for the age group of below 14years,the female LFPR is higher than that of their male counterparts.
It means that childlabour problem among the girls is more as compared to boys. But the significant drop in Female participation ratebelow 14 years is a good sign. The Female LFPR for age group 20-24 and 25-29was 29.7 and 36.9 respectively in 2011-12, which dropped by 18 and 15percentage points over the 20 year period respectively. Theabove data indicates an overall decline in female LFPR over the years. But forthe age groups below 34 years, the drop (about 15% percentage points) iscomparatively more than those of age groups above 35 years (about 12%percentage points). This is because more young women are either takingeducation or have married and taking care of their house and children.
Oncetheir children has been grown up again, the women start searching for jobsafter 35 years, this is the reason for comparatively higher LFPR among women above35 years of age. The LFPR is highest among 35- 49 years which means that nearlyhalf of the women in these age groups are involved in economic activity. The female LFPRs are the lowest among initial groupsi.
e. below 19 and is the highest for the age groups between 35-49. Unemployment rates Unemploymentrate is defined as the number of persons/person-days unemployed per 1000persons/person-days in the labour force. Labour force includes both theemployed and unemployed.
It is necessary to analyze the participationrate along with the unemployment rate becausesometimes unemployed people may not be working due to choice for varied reasonslike early retirement, enrolment for education,on vacation, illness, on maternity or paternity leave, on strike,in training or some personal reasons. People who are not working are notincluded in participation rate and are included in unemployment. Therefore the participation rate and unemployment data should beobserved and interpreted carefully to better understand an economy’s overallemployment status. The abovedata shows that female unemployment rate has continuously increased in bothrural and urban areas.
The female unemployment rate is much lower in rural thanurban areas. The female unemployment rate has increased two-fold from 1993-94to 2011-12 in rural areas, but it has marginally declined in urban areas duringthe same period. Even male unemployment in rural areas has marginallyincreased, while it has declined in urban areas for the same period.
It meansthat both male and female unemployment rate in rural areas has increased but inurban areas it has declined over the 20 years. More importantly femaleunemployment rate has increased more than male counterparts from 1993-94 to2011-12. Clearly, female unemployment has increased in rural India as theagriculture sector failed to absorb them. Individual Deposits of Scheduled Commercial Banks Number of individual accounts andindividual deposits held by women shows the participation not only in the bankingbut in overall economic activities. All banks which are included in the second scheduleof the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 are scheduled banks.
These bankscomprise of scheduled commercial banks and scheduled co-operative banks. Numberof individual accounts and individual deposits by women in scheduled banks in India are shown in table 4. It can be observed fromtable 4 that there is not much significant difference in percentage ofindividual accounts in commercial bank held by women as on March 2015 in ruraland urban areas. The percentage of deposit amount held by women in rural Indiais lowest at 27.66% and highest 34.2% in metropolitan area. This clearlyindicates that women’s participation in commercial bank as account holders anddepositors is less than one third in all areas more significantly theircontribution as a depositor in rural areas is lowest and needs to be strengthened.
Shareof Females in Establishment and Employment TheShare of female in establishment and employment in rural areas is shown intable 5. According tothe 6th Economic Census, women’s share in employment in rural areas is17.82% and 13.81% respectively in agriculture and non-agriculture proprietaryestablishment. Women’s share in establishment in both agriculture andnon-agriculture proprietary establishment in rural areas is slightly better. Itwas 20.73% in agriculture proprietary establishment and 14.69% innon-agriculture proprietary establishment.
Overall women’s share in agriculturewas better than non-agriculture proprietary establishment. Reasons for less participation rate of women in rural areas Female participation in economic activities isimportant for faster socio-economic development of a nation. In fact, femaleparticipation in economic activities is an important indicator of developmentof females. The labour force participation rate has always been higher for menand lower for women over the years. The Female participation rate is moreadverse in urban areas than in rural areas.
Though female LFPR declined in bothrural and urban areas, the decline was more significant in rural than urbanareas. Following are the some of the reasons for it. 1. Lowparticipation doesn’t mean that women are sitting at home without doinganything. They are doing a lot of unpaid and unrecognised work like cooking, takingcare of children and elders, tending to animals and gardens etc. Their work isnot recognised and hence not considered in participation and employment. 2.
The key reason for low LFPR andincreasing joblessness among Indian women is that there are no sufficient jobsavailable in India. As India is going through a jobless growth phase, the jobsavailable are marginal, low paying, insecure and backbreaking. Further, thereare issues related to safety for women or lack of facilities. All these lead tocircumstances where women not securing jobs.3.In rural India, the agriculture sector fails to accommodatethe growing population and as a result the female participation has dropped significantly.
Women are automatically forced out of work with the decline of farm size andmodernization of farms. 4. Female school enrolment increased by 5percentage points between 1993 and 2011. As more young women are studying theyare not searching for jobs.5.
Due to rapid economic development in thecountry in the recent years, families are becoming more prosperous and womenare not longer required to work.6. Social traditions, customs and patriarchalvalues also play important role in keeping women away from economicparticipation. Women are continuously facing lots of structural and socialbarriers in rural India. 7.
Since ancient times, women were told thatkeeping house and taking care of children were their primary responsibility. Womentoo consider this as their priority. All these lead to a fall in participation tilltheir children are small. Once their children have grown up enough, some womenactively participate in economic activities. 8. Gender discrimination which begins at home from the birth ofchild also deprive and discourage women from equal education and socio-economicparticipation.9.
The threat of violence against women discourages them fromleaving their home and prevents them from participation.10. In India there is no pay parity among men and women. Womenare paid far less than men in almost all sectors apart from public sector. Soobliviously between husband and wife if someone is required to sacrifice theirjob for family, it is always the wife who sacrifices. Conclusion Participation of women ineconomic activities is less in both rural and urban India. Rural womenparticipation rate is more than urban participation rate but ruralparticipation rate dropped significantly the 20 year period i.e.
1993-2012.Women are generally engaged in unpaid and unrecognised household activities. To change this scenario investing and encouraging more femaleparticipation in labour force and leadership position in various establishmentsis important. Female friendly surroundings, women safety, self help groups,education, reduction in male-female discrimination can play an important rolepertaining to women participation and empowerment. Beyond these, skillenhancement, initiatives for creating positive social changes for equality inmen-women, pay parity and leadership position in politics and administrativelife can positively change women participation.