Is Current Economic Scenario of Women In India Satisfactory ?

In a land of deities and such varied diversity, women are being worshipped as the goddess. In our society, an Indian woman traditionally plays a fourfold role that is of a daughter, a wife, a sister and a mother. The roles of a woman are conventional and well defined in our society, but with the changing time, women are entering in new spheres of life. With the changing mindset, women are actively participating in social, economic and political activities.
“It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless it is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing”. This was very well quoted by Swami Vivekananda.
India has been the second most populous country in the world has a population of 1210.10 million of which 586.47 million are females according to 2011 census. In the urban region, females have a share of 48.1% and 48.6% in the rural region. At the time of independence, there were 946 females per 1000 males and remained almost same for some years but then it gradually decreased and now, it is 943 per 1000 males(2011 census). There can be many reasons for this decline such as the preference of a male child, increase in female foeticide, male-dominated society and patriarchal mindset.

The next important question that comes in front of us is how women education has been changed over time? The literacy rate of women in India is 65.46% whereas it is 82.14% for males. There is the wide gender disparity in this context. In terms of education, the condition of India is poor as it has been ranked 38th among 51 developing countries when it comes to earliest grade at which at least 80% of women are literate. The stereotype view that “women should only do the household work and education is not considered important for them” can provide a base for this disparity. But in another view, the growth of female literacy rate is 11.8% which is way faster than male literacy rate that is 6.9% in 2001-2011 period. In urban areas, there is 80% of women are literate and 59% in the rural region. These stats can give us a vital argument that India is progressing and breaking the stereotype. There has been an increase in the number of schools and education is definitely improved with time. The government has also launched many programmes for the upliftment of women education like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao“, but there is a long journey that India has to go on, in order to fully attain women literacy.

Despite the increase in growth of female literacy rate compared to male literacy rate, the labour participation rate of women is extremely low that is 33% in 2008 whereas the male has 81% labour participation rate. In recent years, the unemployment of women has risen which is highest among young women, the official unemployment rate was between 17% to 22%. In India, it has been estimated that approx 60% of agricultural work is done by women only, but their hourly wage varies from 50-75% of a male rate which makes very difficult for them to overcome absolute poverty. In rural areas, women are not having any option rather than to work in order to support their families. This is what was seen during 2000-2004. Growth in agricultural income was stagnant yet the number of self-employed female workers increased by 17 million, indicating that there was distress employment.

It is seen that labour force participation rate is very low among urban educated women. It is observed that around 57% of educated women having graduate degrees were doing household work only (therefore they are out of labour force) as compared to 31% in rural areas with primary or secondary education in 2009-10. One of the reasons for such low labour participation rate is the slow generation of employment in the manufacturing sector. Between 2000-04 women employed for 3.7 million of 9.7 million new manufacturing jobs were created in the country. Therefore, women employment was increasing in the low paid sectors. Now, in 2004-09, 3.7 million manufacturing jobs were lost and women who lost their jobs were more than 80%. Now, when it comes to service sectors it was the major source of employment for women past 1990 years mainly in low paid services such as domestic help. But at the same time, there is only a small share for females of relatively high-quality jobs in India, like only 20% of new jobs created in finances, real estate and business services in the 2000s.
In 2004-05, it was found that there is a large gender pay gap of 57% in the formal sector whereas the gender pay gap among casual workers is around 35-37%. In the unorganized sector, it was around 20-30%. Despite working for more hours their wage was lower than males and it was shown in 2000.
Now, the next question that comes to our mind is –” What government has done to strengthen the economic performance of women in India?”. There are various programmes or schemes that government has initiated for their upliftment. These are

It was an initiative launched by union government in March 2016. It provided a platform for the women entrepreneurs to sell their products. The government supported their creativity and is helping women to sell their products clothes, bags, jewellery, rugs etc through this web portal.


This scheme was launched Ministry of the woman and child development. Most of the women after childbirth dropout from the labour force in order to take care of their child. So, the main objective of this programme is to provide a nursery where babies and young children are taken care during the working day. Due to this women get an opportunity to work within or outside their homes.

The ministry has been administering this scheme since 1986-87 as a ‘Central sector scheme’. This scheme aims to provide skill development that will give employability to women and to provide competencies and skills that enable women to become self-employed or entrepreneurs. This scheme basically aims to benefit women who are in the age of 16 or above that.

It is a centrally sponsored programme of Indian government which was initiated on 1st April 2011. The objective of this scheme is to enable the adolescent’s girls for self-development, upgrade home-based skills and integrate with National Skill Development Program(NSDP) for vocational skills. This scheme also provides guidance about existing public services such as PHC, CHC, Post office, banks etc.

It was set up in 1993 with a collection of Rs 31 crore. The main objective of this scheme was to provide micro credit to poor women for various livelihood support and income generating activities at client-friendly terms and conditions to bring about their socio-economic development. The principal collection has been increased to Rs 100 cr by 2009-10. By 2011, 87,512 woman beneficiaries have been sanctioned Rs307.52 and disbursed Rs 251.8 crore.

As we have seen that there are various schemes launched by the government in order to uplift the economic scenario of women in India and many women have benefited from these programmes also. At the end, I would only like to state that there is also a need for more employment generation in manufacturing sectors as that would help to substantially increase the number of women in labour force. There is also a need for the government to reduce the wage gap between male and female. If these matters are looked into then the economic performance of women would be better and thus, in turn, India’s economic performance would be better.

Report: Divya Mehra, Hindu College, Delhi University 

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