What’s Stopping Indian Women?
Despite having legal, social, and educational rights, Indian women are burdened with domestic responsibilities resulting in their social subordination. It is disheartening to note that even educated women advocate for the idea that there is nothing wrong with a woman choosing to stay at home and take care of her husband, parents, or babies. Furthermore, there are still parents in India who prefer a male child over a female child.
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but unfortunately, half of its population, i.e., women, are still lagging in contributing to its growth.
According to a recent report by the State Bank of India (SBI), women’s unpaid domestic work is nearly 7.5% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), with rural women contributing Rs. 14.7 lakh crore, and urban women contributing Rs. 8.0 lakh crore. However, despite their immense contribution, unpaid domestic work is still outside the purview of economic policy, and the predominance of women in domestic work keeps them out of economic activities.
Lack of Education and Skill Development
Empowering women to join the workforce is not just a matter of social justice, but it is also crucial to India’s economic growth. Despite the potential, women’s participation in the economy is held back by various factors, including lack of education and skill development. The gender gap in literacy rates is a significant challenge, but it is not insurmountable. The government and private players must take proactive measures to ensure that women have equal access to education and training opportunities to help them unleash their full potential and contribute to the country’s economic development. Only by empowering women can India truly become a just and prosperous society.
Traditional Gender Roles and Limited Opportunities
The societal norms that dictate traditional gender roles for women are another significant obstacle to their participation in economic activities. These roles often require women to prioritize household chores and child-rearing over their professional aspirations. As a result, women are left with limited time and energy to pursue their careers outside of the home. Additionally, the lack of affordable and quality childcare services only compounds this issue, making it challenging for women to balance their work and family responsibilities.
To address this, we must develop a collective mindset that recognizes and values the role of men in child-rearing. Encouraging men to take a more active role in household responsibilities can provide women with more opportunities to pursue their careers and contribute to the economy. By breaking down traditional gender roles and promoting gender equality, we can create a more inclusive and productive workforce that benefits both men and women.
Gender Discrimination in the Workforce
Gender discrimination is an unfortunate reality in the Indian workforce, which not only undermines women’s dignity and worth but also hinders the nation’s economic progress. Women often face lower wages, fewer job opportunities, and sexual harassment in the workplace, which discourages them from pursuing their career goals. To ensure women’s equal participation in the workforce and create a safe and inclusive work environment, the government needs to implement robust policies and programs. The government can introduce strict laws and penalties for workplace harassment and discrimination and establish committees to monitor and redress complaints. Additionally, the government can encourage private companies to adopt gender-sensitive policies and practices, such as pay equity, flexible work arrangements, and adequate childcare facilities. By creating a level playing field and empowering women with equal opportunities, the government can make India a safer and more prosperous place for women to excel in their chosen fields.
The Importance of Women’s Economic Empowerment
We must also understand that women’s participation in economic activities is not just a matter of gender equality; it is also critical for India’s overall economic development. Women’s economic empowerment can lead to increased household income, improved health, and education outcomes, and reduced poverty levels. Studies have shown that women’s participation in the labor force can boost GDP growth by up to 1.5%.
Ways to Promote Women’s Economic Empowerment
To ensure that women can participate in economic activities, there is a need for concerted efforts by the government, private sector, and civil society. This includes improving access to education and skill development, promoting gender equality in the workforce, and providing affordable childcare services. The government can also introduce policies and programs that incentivize companies to hire more women and provide them with a safe and supportive work environment.
In conclusion, gender discrimination and biases have been deeply ingrained in Indian society for centuries, hindering the economic growth and progress of women. While there have been some efforts to promote women’s education, skill development, and economic participation, much more needs to be done to make India a safer and more equitable place for women to excel. The government has a crucial role to play in creating policies and programs that address the root causes of gender discrimination and biases and provide a safe and supportive environment for women to thrive in the workforce. Only by breaking down the barriers and empowering women can India truly reach its full potential
We must remember ‘’When a girl is educated, she is empowered. She can make her own decisions, raise the standard of living for her family and children, create more job opportunities, and reform society as a whole. As a result, a shift in attitudes toward girl child education in India is urgently needed. Every girl child deserves to be treated with love and respect. If all girls complete their education and participate in the workforce, India could add a whopping $770 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025!’’, Childs Right and You (CRY).