Why is women empowerment in India important?
Because the fact that working women in India are leaving the workforce is hurting the Indian economy and making it less competitive than China.
In India, women’s labour force participation rate fell from 35.1% in 1990 to 27.2% in 2017. The most recent major finding is that the already existing trend of women withdrawing themselves from the workforce has intensified.
In comparison, the female labour force participation rate in China is about 63.3 per cent, meaning almost two-thirds of the country’s women are available to work.
Were India to rebalance its workforce, the world’s biggest democracy would be 27% richer, according to the Economist.
A report by the McKinsey Global Institute says that India has one of the largest opportunities in the world to boost GDP by advancing women’s equality — $770 billion of added GDP by 2025.
But this would require social and behavioural change and employers can play a role in catalysing such change by encouraging their male employees to bear a bigger share of household responsibilities.
As it is unlikely that such social and behavioural change will come about in a single generation, there are a number of ways that women in India can contribute to the economy from the position they are in.
One of these options is for more women in India to consider taking up remote work or freelancing or starting a home business.
If you’re willing to work-from-home, there are plenty of opportunities for skilled workers, including jobs for 40-year-old women who had to give up their careers to take care of kids.
For instance, a housewife can learn how to start a beauty parlour business in India. This is something she can do in her spare time, without disrupting her family commitments, which is why it’s a popular choice for many Indian women.
The Indian government has always encouraged women empowerment in India. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru said, ‘You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women’.
The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said, “Women empowerment is crucial to India’s growth. The days of seeing women as homemakers have gone; we have to see women as nation builders!”
Today, the Indian government has even made it possible to have a permanent career for women in Indian army.
There are no dearth of Indian women role models, entrepreneurs, and achievers we can look to inspire us.
We also have a number of laws and women empowerment programs to encourage women to either work-at-home or take up a job outside the home.
The Indian government and banks offer a number of small business loans for women to encourage them to start their own businesses.
Initiatives like free education for girls in government schools and colleges from Nursery to PhD, as announced by the Punjab government, and free travel for women in Delhi, can help lessen the financial burden of women in India.
We can hope that at some point Indian men will give up the belief that job-seeking wives are a mark of shame and learn to accept the new empowered Indian woman as an equal partner.
But finally, it’s up to Indian women themselves to demand the right to earn a living and create financial independence and freedom for themselves.
Today, India ranks 131 of 188 countries on the U.N. Development Program’s Gender Inequality Index. If we want the nation to grow and prosper, India definitely needs to treat her women better.