Women’s education has increased over the last two decades and fertility rates have fallen — both have contributed to increasing participation of women in the paid labour force elsewhere in the world. However, this is not the case in India. India’s Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) has fallen from 31.2% in 2011-12 to 24.5% in 2018-19.
Among several other factors including domestic responsibilities, societal norms, limited opportunities lack of supportive infrastructure, a major explanation for women dropping out of the labour force is the fear of sexual violence (broadly categorising crime against women).
The Plight of Female Labour Force Participation in India
- India’s female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) is a puzzling feature of its economy. Though output has more than doubled and the number of working-age women has grown by a quarter over the last two decades, the number of women in jobs has declined by 10 million.
- Data Presented by Gender Parity Indices: Global indices and gender empowerment measures also paint a dismal picture. The Global Gender Gap Index, 2021 revealed that India ranks 140th of 156 countries, compared to its 98th position in 2006.
- India’s FLFPR (24.5% in 2018-19) has also been declining and is well below the global average of 45%.
- Current Education and Employment Scenario: India neared gender equality at the primary level about a decade after the enactment of the Right to Education Act, 2009. Between 2011 and 2019, there has been an increase in the rate of women enrolling in higher education.
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