Female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in India

GS-3 : Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Discuss the factors contributing to the low female labor force participation rate (LFPR) in India compared to males.


Key Findings:

  • Low female LFPR compared to males (2023: 37% vs 78.5%).
  • Global average female LFPR is 49% (World Bank).
  • Decline since 2000, with a recent uptick, especially in rural areas.
  • Increase mainly in self-employment and unpaid family work.
  • Regular salaried work declining after 2018.

Reasons for Low Participation:

  • Cultural and Social Norms:Gender roles discourage women from working outside the home.
  • Educational Attainment:Limited access to quality education restricts skill development.
  • Unequal Pay:The gender pay gap discourages women from working.
  • Structural Rigidities:Limited formal job opportunities, especially for low-skilled women.
  • Security Issues:Concerns about sexual harassment at work.

Government Initiatives:

  • Code on Wages (2019):Ensures equal pay for equal work.
  • Maternity Benefit Act (2017):Provides improved maternity benefits.
  • Code on OSH (2020):Improved working conditions for women in some sectors.
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK):Provides microloans for women’s livelihood activities.
  • National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM):Supports skill development and income generation for rural women.
  • MGNREGA:Promotes rural employment with a focus on women’s participation.

Way Ahead:

  • Increase in LFPR is mainly in rural, self-employment (unpaid work).
  • Policies needed on both demand and supply side:
    • Demand Side:Promote labor-intensive sectors (manufacturing, services).
    • Supply Side:
      • Public investment in safety, transport infrastructure.
      • Public investment in affordable childcare and eldercare.
      • These measures can enable women to work outside the home and access better-paying jobs.

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