Participation of women in economic
activities is essential not only for women empowerment but more importantly for
the overall development of India. Without faster improvement in participation
of women in economic activities progress toward gender equality is not
possible. Participation of women in economic activities in formal sectors of
industries and services is measurable, but the
activities in informal sectors such as training
and education of children, activities in agricultural sectors and household services
are difficult to measure.
Now a day’s women’s
involvement in sectors ranging from politics to business, agriculture to
service sector is rapidly increasing. In
this backdrop, it would be interesting to measure
the amount of their involvement in economic activity in the men
dominated Indian society. Participation in gainful employment
makes a dramatic difference to women’s life. In general, the earning women’s
control over assets increases automatically. It also gives them importance in
decision-making and lowers domestic violence.
current study focuses on the participation of women particularly in the rural
Secondary data has been used this research study. Various government reports, periodicals
and e-resources were referred for the study.
Labour Force Participation Rate
Labour force participation rate is a measure of working population
in an economy. It refers to the number of people out of the total population
who are either employed or are actively looking for work. People who are not looking for a job such as full-time
students, homemakers, individuals who don’t want to work are not
considered in labour force.
Labour Force Participation Rate is calculated by using following
Where the Labour Force = Employed + Unemployed (seeking job)
The gender gap in participation rate in labour force is measured
through male-female gap between male-female participation rates.
labour force participation rates are shown in table 1. It can be seen from the table that the labour force participation rate of
women in India has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years. The drop has been
most dramatic among women in rural India. The above data reveals that nearly one third (33.1%) rural
women were in the labour force in 1993-94, the number dropped to one fourth
(25.1%) in 2011-12. It is clear that
between 1993 and 2012 women’s work participation rate dipped by about 8
percentage points in rural area over 20 years. The Labour force participation rate of urban women has also dropped in the
same period, though not as dramatically. In urban India, labour force
participation rate merely dropped by 1
Men’s labour force
participation rate in rural and urban area not changed much. In fact, labour force participation rate
for 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 considerable
rural-urban gap with respect to women’s labour force participation rate. The Labour force participation rate for
females is higher in rural areas than urban areas. Thus, a considerable gender
gap exists in both rural and urban areas and the gap is higher in urban areas. According to the Global Gender
Report 2015, India was ranked 136 among 144 countries on the economic
participation and opportunities index. This indicates something is wrong somewhere in our country
that prevents women from working, resulting in
a decrease in their participation rate.
Labour Force Participation Rates (%) by Age Group
As the LFPR of females is generally
lower than that of males in both rural and urban areas, it is interesting to
find LFPR by different age groups. These kind of data helps to understand
whether the LFPR for various age groups remains constant
or do they vary. LFPR by age groups are presented
in Table 2 below.
The above table shows that, male labour
force participation rate for the age group above 24 years have been more and less the same over
the period. The LFPR for age group 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 years dropped considerably
from 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 taking
education for their better future since the school enrolment rate increased by
around 5% between 1993-2011, as indicated in the 68th NSS round. Similarly, for the same age-group the female LFPR also dropped significantly. But female
LFPR for below 14 years is higher than that of male LFPR. Only for the age group of below 14
the female LFPR is higher than that of their male counterparts. It means that child
labour problem among the girls is more as compared to boys. But the significant drop in Female participation rate
below 14 years is a good sign. The Female LFPR for age group 20-24 and 25-29
was 29.7 and 36.9 respectively in 2011-12, which dropped by 18 and 15
percentage points over the 20 year period respectively.
above data indicates an overall decline in female LFPR over the years. But for
the age groups below 34 years, the drop (about 15% percentage points) is
comparatively more than those of age groups above 35 years (about 12%
percentage points). This is because more young women are either taking
education or have married and taking care of their house and children. Once
their children has been grown up again, the women start searching for jobs
after 35 years, this is the reason for comparatively higher LFPR among women above
35 years of age. The LFPR is highest among 35- 49 years which means that nearly
half of the women in these age groups are involved in economic activity. The female LFPRs are the lowest among initial groups
i.e. below 19 and is the highest for the age groups between 35-49.
rate is defined as the number of persons/person-days unemployed per 1000
persons/person-days in the labour force. Labour force includes both the
employed and unemployed.
It is necessary to analyze the participation
rate along with the unemployment rate because
sometimes unemployed people may not be working due to choice for varied reasons
like 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 not
included in participation rate and are included in unemployment. Therefore the participation rate and unemployment data should be
observed and interpreted carefully to better understand an economy’s overall
data shows that female unemployment rate has continuously increased in both
rural and urban areas. The female unemployment rate is much lower in rural than
urban areas. The female unemployment rate has increased two-fold from 1993-94
to 2011-12 in rural areas, but it has marginally declined in urban areas during
the same period. Even male unemployment in rural areas has marginally
increased, while it has declined in urban areas for the same period. It means
that both male and female unemployment rate in rural areas has increased but in
urban areas it has declined over the 20 years. More importantly female
unemployment rate has increased more than male counterparts from 1993-94 to
2011-12. Clearly, female unemployment has increased in rural India as the
agriculture sector failed to absorb them.
Individual Deposits of Scheduled Commercial Banks
Number of individual accounts and
individual deposits held by women shows the participation not only in the banking
but in overall economic activities. All banks which are included in the second schedule
of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 are scheduled banks. These banks
comprise of scheduled commercial banks and scheduled co-operative banks. Number
of individual accounts and individual deposits by women in scheduled banks in India are shown in table 4.
It can be observed from
table 4 that there is not much significant difference in percentage of
individual accounts in commercial bank held by women as on March 2015 in rural
and urban areas. The percentage of deposit amount held by women in rural India
is lowest at 27.66% and highest 34.2% in metropolitan area. This clearly
indicates that women’s participation in commercial bank as account holders and
depositors is less than one third in all areas more significantly their
contribution as a depositor in rural areas is lowest and needs to be strengthened.
of Females in Establishment and Employment
Share of female in establishment and employment in rural areas is shown in
the 6th Economic Census, women’s share in employment in rural areas is
17.82% and 13.81% respectively in agriculture and non-agriculture proprietary
establishment. Women’s share in establishment in both agriculture and
non-agriculture proprietary establishment in rural areas is slightly better. It
was 20.73% in agriculture proprietary establishment and 14.69% in
non-agriculture proprietary establishment. Overall women’s share in agriculture
was better than non-agriculture proprietary establishment.
Reasons for less participation rate of women in rural areas
Female participation in economic activities is
important for faster socio-economic development of a nation. In fact, female
participation in economic activities is an important indicator of development
of females. The labour force participation rate has always been higher for men
and lower for women over the years. The Female participation rate is more
adverse in urban areas than in rural areas. Though female LFPR declined in both
rural and urban areas, the decline was more significant in rural than urban
areas. Following are the some of the reasons for it.
participation doesn’t mean that women are sitting at home without doing
anything. They are doing a lot of unpaid and unrecognised work like cooking, taking
care of children and elders, tending to animals and gardens etc. Their work is
not recognised and hence not considered in participation and employment.
2. The key reason for low LFPR and
increasing joblessness among Indian women is that there are no sufficient jobs
available in India. As India is going through a jobless growth phase, the jobs
available are marginal, low paying, insecure and backbreaking. Further, there
are issues related to safety for women or lack of facilities. All these lead to
circumstances where women not securing jobs.
In rural India, the agriculture sector fails to accommodate
the 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 and
modernization of farms.
4. Female school enrolment increased by 5
percentage points between 1993 and 2011. As more young women are studying they
are not searching for jobs.
5. Due to rapid economic development in the
country in the recent years, families are becoming more prosperous and women
are not longer required to work.
6. Social traditions, customs and patriarchal
values also play important role in keeping women away from economic
participation. Women are continuously facing lots of structural and social
barriers in rural India.
7. Since ancient times, women were told that
keeping house and taking care of children were their primary responsibility. Women
too consider this as their priority. All these lead to a fall in participation till
their children are small. Once their children have grown up enough, some women
actively participate in economic activities.
8. Gender discrimination which begins at home from the birth of
child also deprive and discourage women from equal education and socio-economic
9. The threat of violence against women discourages them from
leaving their home and prevents them from participation.
10. In India there is no pay parity among men and women. Women
are paid far less than men in almost all sectors apart from public sector. So
obliviously between husband and wife if someone is required to sacrifice their
job for family, it is always the wife who sacrifices.
Participation of women in
economic activities is less in both rural and urban India. Rural women
participation rate is more than urban participation rate but rural
participation 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 female
participation in labour force and leadership position in various establishments
is important. Female friendly surroundings, women safety, self help groups,
education, reduction in male-female discrimination can play an important role
pertaining to women participation and empowerment. Beyond these, skill
enhancement, initiatives for creating positive social changes for equality in
men-women, pay parity and leadership position in politics and administrative
life can positively change women participation.