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      Gender-based violence – Causes and consequences

      Violence against women and girls has long been a barrier to their equal participation in and contribution to society. Any and every form of violence against women – physical, mental, verbal, psychological or emotional – is a violation of their human rights, has severe and long-term impacts on survivors, their families and communities, and also affects social and economic development (García-Moreno et al., 2015; UN Women, 2020). There are multiple ways in which violence is experienced by women, several contexts in which it occurs, and thus, its costs and consequences are widespread (Day et al., 2005).

      The issue becomes even more complicated when we account for the fact that it is not just men who inflict violence upon women but women as well, who can equally be perpetrators. This becomes relevant in a traditional society such as India’s where violence against women is not merely a gender issue. For far too long women have been responsible for the suffering of other women, especially in domiciliary settings where the triggers for violence are often women’s handling of domestic chores and responsibilities, increased mobility or greater financial independence. In this blog, I talk about what feminist literature has to say about the violence inflicted on women and girls by the opposite gender, and whether it has any correlation with women’s participation in the labour force along with their desire to be economically independent.

      The ameliorative hypothesis on violence (Xie et al., 2012; Heirigs and Moore, 2018) is the most well-understood and logically coherent theory on the subject suggesting that as societies become more equal, violence decreases. The improved status of women relative to men, greater gender equality and a higher ratio of women to men in the labour force would in theory break traditions and reduce stereotypes that support the domination of women by men. This would lead to lower rates of violence against women, and ultimately empower women.

      However, evidence on violence supports the backlash hypothesis. It argues that improvement in women’s relative socioeconomic status actually increases their rate of victimisation – a sharp contrast to the ameliorative hypothesis. With initial reductions in gender inequality in a society, men tend to find means to reassert their diminishing patriarchal power and authority and resist the increased power of women (Avakame, 1999). A narrowing gender gap as women advance in status and break down their traditional gender roles, acts as a threat for men and results in the ‘backlash effect’ (Xie et al., 2012). Given the setup of the Indian society and its strong patriarchal norms, men are conditioned to retain the identity of a provider, protect women of the household, and control decision-making in the family such that women conform to roles defined by traditions. The backlash hypothesis is particularly found to have more significant influence on domestic violence and intimate partner violence rather than on stranger violence or violence by known or unknown offenders (Xie et al., 2012).

      Yet another argument that predicts women’s victimisation is the one offered by the lifestyle and routine activities theory. This theoretical strand of the literature suggests that absolute increases in women’s labour force participation are associated with increase in their victimisation by strangers and known others (Xie et al., 2012). Although the result predicted by this theory is similar to that of the backlash hypothesis, the reason is different. The lifestyle theory states that an increase in women’s labour force participation puts them at heightened risk of victimization by strangers due to greater exposure at work or in other out-of-home activities. The routine activities approach focuses on women’s changing activity patterns to determine how vulnerable they could be. In establishing the theory, Xie et al. (2012) also argue that while women’s access to resources (indicated by gains in education, income) can help them protect themselves from victimization, greater labour force participation increases exposure to victimization.

      Historically and globally, women have experienced violence, irrespective of their age, wealth status, class, race, ethnicity, caste or religion, and even across settings – inflicted by their partner, children, family members, members of the neighborhood, community or workplace (UN Women, 2020). Among the many costs of violence against women – borne by the survivor, her household and society over time – is her participation in the labour force. A woman’s decision to join the labour force is a rational decision wherein she attempts to either maximise her own utility function or her households’ total welfare (Mehrotra and Parida, 2017). She compares the net benefit of joining the workforce to the net benefit of not doing so while also accounting for the cost of joining. The prevalence of violence against women in public spaces, public transport, neighborhood or at the workplace and the possibility of being abused contribute negatively to this equation, adding to the cost of participation in the workforce (Chakraborty et al., 2014; Satyam and Pickup, 2018). As a result, women are discouraged and make suboptimal labour supply decisions.

      The malaise of inflicting violence against women and girls becomes more pronounced and relevant in India as we look closely at the reasons for women’s declining labour force participation over the last three decades. Research from various country settings has established that the fall in women’s labour force participation rate can be attributed to factors like – availability of care for children, elderly and specially abled; role of women in domestic and kinship settings along with long-standing patriarchal norms; occupational segregations and poor growth in female-friendly jobs; lack of infrastructure; concerns around safety and mobility; and sociocultural barriers and social identities (Chaudhary, 2021). In some way or the other, all of these play a role in the Indian context. An OECD report from the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019 stated that women in India are less likely to be employed than in other G20 countries, next only to Saudi Arabia (Satyam and Pickup, 2018).

      In recent times, India’s female labour force participation rate has declined from 31.2 per cent (Employment-Unemployment Survey, 2011) to 23.3 per cent (Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2017), while the country-wide rate of crimes against women and girls has tripled from 18.8 per cent to 57.9 per cent during this period (as per National Crime Records Bureau).

      IWWAGE is undertaking a state-level analysis to determine how women’s labour force participation rate has changed with the incidence of crimes against women between 2011 and 2017. It uses the ‘Crime in India’ statistics produced by the National Crime Records Bureau and looks at crimes that might serve as barriers to work, in this case, those that prevent women from stepping out to work and paint a perception of lack of safety. These include rape, kidnapping and abduction, sexual harassment and molestation.

      A detailed report will be released soon. Watch out for the second part of this blog where I would unpack the report’s findings.

      Neelanjana Gupta, Senior Research Associate at IWWAGE, is an economist with interest in evidence-based solutions to challenging questions of public policy. She works on areas of human development and social inclusion.

      References

      Avakame, Edem F. “Females’ labor force participation and rape: An empirical test of the backlash hypothesis.” Violence Against Women 5.8 (1999): 926-949.

      Chakraborty, Tanika, et al. “Crime and Women’s Labor Force Participation.” (2014).

      Chaudhary, Ruchika. Working or Not: What Determines Women’s Labour Force Participation in India? IWWAGE, 2021.

      Day, Tanis, Katherine McKenna, and Audra Bowlus. “The economic costs of violence against women: An evaluation of the literature.” United Nations (2005): 1-66.

      García-Moreno, Claudia, et al. “Addressing violence against women: a call to action.” The Lancet 385.9978 (2015): 1685-1695.

      Heirigs, Mark H., and Matthew D. Moore. “Gender inequality and homicide: a cross-national examination.” International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice 42.4 (2018): 273-285.

      Mehrotra, Santosh, and Jajati K. Parida. “Why is the labour force participation of women declining in India?.” World Development 98 (2017): 360-380.

      Satyam, Nishtha, and Francine Pickup. “To Reverse Decline of Women in Labour Force, India Must Make Its Working Spaces Safe.” The Wire (2018).

      UN Women. “COVID-19 and Violence against Women and Girls: Addressing the Shadow Pandemic.” Policy Brief 17 (2020).

      Xie, Min, Karen Heimer, and Janet L. Lauritsen. “Violence against women in US metropolitan areas: Changes in women’s status and risk, 1980–2004.” Criminology 50.1 (2012): 105-143.

      Gender Samvaad held to focus on women’s collectives in responding to COVID-19

      Gender Samvaad is an attempt to create a common platform for generating greater awareness on NRLM’s interventions, and the impact of its gender operational strategy, across the country.

      The Second Gender Samvaad was organised by the Ministry of Rural Development’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) and the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) at LEAD. This edition of the Gender Samvaad, held virtually, focused on the best practices of various states and from women’s collectives under DAY-NRLM in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, particularly the second wave that has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many people.

      Senior officials from the Ministry of Rural Development, including Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development; Smt. Alka Upadhyaya, Additional Secretary, Rural Development; and Smt. Nita Kejrewal, Joint Secretary, DAY-NRLM presided over the event. The Chief Guest for the event was Smt. Aparajita Sarangi, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha). Presentations were made by three State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) on how they were addressing the COVID 19 crisis.

      Gender Samvaad is an attempt to create a common platform for generating greater awareness on NRLM’s interventions, and the impact of its gender operational strategy, across the country. The Samvaad focuses on highlighting best practices and the lessons learnt in implementing gender-responsive interventions, with a focus on hearing voices from the states and the field.

      Smt. Aparajita Sarangi, MP lauded the efforts of the State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLMs) and women’s collectives in curbing the impact of COVID-19 through a range of interventions. Smt. Sarangi stressed upon developing a gender focussed recovery plan, where women’s needs are at the centre of such efforts. She proposed to focus on enhancing women’s capacities, leadership and encouraging them to be a part of local governance mechanisms; ensuring that every woman is financially secure and has a bank account to avail the slew of government direct benefit transfers; strengthening women’s enterprises by providing low-interest credit support, particularly through the latest measures announced by the Ministry of Finance in extending the emergency credit line for borrowers; ensuring food security and nutrition for women and girls; and finally, in order to bounce back better and stronger from the pandemic, ensuring last mile coverage of vaccinations.

      Two compendiums were released on this occasion. This included a compendium on the DAY-NRLM’s efforts towards strengthening Food, Nutrition, Health and WASH through State Missions and community institutions. It highlighted the work being done on key themes under the POSHAN Maah such as breastfeeding, complementary feeding, the importance of early identification of severe acute malnutrition and promotion of nutrition gardens for diet diversity. The second compendium captures stories of resilience from rural India during the COVID related pandemic in 2021, and how SHGs responded to the needs of women during and after the second wave.

      Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development spoke of DAY-NRLM’s continuous efforts towards mainstreaming the vulnerable in its institutional architecture by linking them to formal financial institutions, initiating micro-enterprises at the individual or group level, focusing on women’s health and nutrition and establishing and strengthening institutions at the village level which vulnerable women can approach for grievance redress.

      Smt. Alka Upadhyaya stressed reviving and strengthening women’s self-help groups post-pandemic through sustainable livelihood planning. For this, she laid emphasis on both forward and backward linkages for better economic returns, as well as on ensuring social security for SHG women to mitigate future economic shocks.

      Smt. Nita Kejrewal gave a background to the Gender Samvaad and spoke of the relentless work being undertaken by SRLMs to provide relief measures during the second wave of COVID while also accommodating the myriad needs of women and girls.

      Smt. Soumya Kapoor Mehta, Head, IWWAGE moderated a panel discussion where senior State Government officials from the states of Bihar, Kerala and Meghalaya shared their insights on how women’s collectives responded particularly to the second wave of COVID, through innovative practices such as home delivery of food and cash. Community resource persons from the same three states shared what they went through during the second wave and highlighted the role that their SHGs played in helping them recover.

      Read the coverage here.

       

      Ministry of Rural Development’s DAY-NRLM and IWWAGE host Gender Samvaad

      The Second Gender Samvaad was organised by the Ministry of Rural Development’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) and the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) at LEAD. This edition of the Gender Samvaad, held virtually, focused on the best practices of various states and from women’s collectives under DAY-NRLM in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, particularly the second wave that has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many people.

      Senior officials from the Ministry of Rural Development, including Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development; Smt. Alka Upadhyaya, Additional Secretary, Rural Development; and Smt. Nita Kejrewal, Joint Secretary, DAY-NRLM presided over the event. The Chief Guest for the event was Smt. Aparajita Sarangi, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha). Presentations were made by three State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) on how they were addressing the COVID 19 crisis.

      Gender Samvaad is an attempt to create a common platform for generating greater awareness on NRLM’s interventions, and the impact of its gender operational strategy, across the country. The Samvaad focuses on highlighting best practices and the lessons learnt in implementing gender responsive interventions, with a focus on hearing voices from the states and the field.

      Smt. Aparajita Sarangi, MP lauded the efforts of the State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLMs) and women’s collectives in curbing the impact of COVID-19 through a range of interventions. Smt. Sarangi stressed upon developing a gender focussed recovery plan, where women’s needs are at the centre of such efforts. She proposed focus on enhancing women’s capacities, leadership and encouraging them to be a part of local governance mechanisms; ensuring that every woman is financially secure and has a bank account to avail the slew of government direct benefit transfers; strengthening women’s enterprises by providing low-interest credit support, particularly through the latest measures announced by the Ministry of Finance in extending the emergency credit line for borrowers; ensuring food security and nutrition for women and girls; and finally, in order to bounce back better and stronger from the pandemic, ensuring last mile coverage of vaccinations.

      Two compendiums were released on this occasion. This included a compendium on the DAY-NRLM’s efforts towards strengthening Food, Nutrition, Health and WASH through State Missions and community institutions. It highlighted the work being done on key themes under the POSHAN Maah such as breastfeeding, complementary feeding, importance of early identification of severe-acute malnutrition and promotion of nutrition gardens for diet diversity. The second compendium captures stories of resilience from rural India during the COVID related pandemic in 2021, and how SHGs responded to the needs of women during and after the second wave.

      Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development spoke of DAY-NRLM’s continuous efforts towards mainstreaming the vulnerable in its institutional architecture by linking them to formal financial institutions, initiating micro enterprises at individual or group level, focusing on women’s health and nutrition and establishing and strengthening institutions at the village level which vulnerable women can approach for grievance redress.

      Smt. Alka Upadhyaya stressed upon reviving and strengthening women’s self-help groups post pandemic through sustainable livelihoods planning. For this, she laid emphasis on both forward and backward linkages for better economic returns, as well as on ensuring social security for SHG women to mitigate future economic shocks.

      Smt. Nita Kejrewal gave a background to the Gender Samvaad and spoke of the relentless work being undertaken by SRLMs to provide relief measures during the second wave of COVID while also accommodating the myriad needs of women and girls.

      Smt. Soumya Kapoor Mehta, Head, IWWAGE moderated a panel discussion where senior State Government officials from the states of Bihar, Kerala and Meghalaya shared their insights on how women’s collectives responded particularly to the second wave of COVID, through innovative practices such as home delivery of food and cash. Community resource persons from the same three states shared what they went through during the second wave and highlighted the role that their SHGs played in helping them recover.

      Read the coverage here.

      National Rural Livelihoods Mission

      Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Panchayati Raj and Food Processing Industries, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar today released a compendium on best practices gathered from all over India on how DAY-NRLM is addressing gender issues through Social Action Committees of SHG federations. The compendium was released at a virtual event organised to share insights and stories from Village Organisation Social Action Committees, who have been at the forefront of providing support to women and girls.The compendium on best practices was releasedin the presence of Minister of State Smt. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyotiand senior officials from the Ministry of Rural Development, State Governments and members of Village Organisations and Cluster Level federations from all states through an online event.

      The virtual event highlighted voices of women and girls who have sought support from the Village Organisation Social Action Committees to address a range of issues – such as prevention of child marriages, violence against women, the practice of witch hunting; generating employment and supporting livelihoods for women; providing legal redressal and counselling through formal mechanisms, as well as bringing vulnerable and marginalised communities into the fold of inclusive development and ensuring that their voices are represented at these institutions. The case studies from 23 States highlight the processes, mechanisms, strategies and plans for replicating and scaling these gender interventions to advance gender equality and end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

      Union Minister appreciated the efforts of the Ministry for providing support to women and girls to voice their concerns and seek support through the institutional mechanisms set up by DAY-NRLM. He lauded the efforts of the women SHGs, for not only addressing several challenges that they face within their households and communities, but also the contributions they are making towards societal reforms and addressing social issues to advance India’s growth and development.

      He spoke of the significance of these efforts towards making India stronger and more self-reliant, by building local governance mechanisms to support the most marginalised and vulnerable women and girls. As part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, launched by the Prime Minister of India to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence to share the glorious traditions and progress made in several areas, the self-help group movement in India showcases the resilience and fortitude shown by India’s women.

      The Minister highlighted the significant role that SHG members and the Social Action Committees can play in spreading awareness about ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, as well as to encourage people to get vaccinated.

      On this occasion, the Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State, talked about the extensive progress made by women and girls who are part of the SHGs and have used platforms like social action committees to end regressive practices and ensure that their aspirations are realised. She encouraged other States to draw inspiration from the stories highlighted in the compendium on advancing gender equality through these community-based institutions.

      Deendayal AntyodayaYojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is a flagship scheme implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development to address multi-dimensional poverty through building strong institutions of the poor. The unique feature of this scheme is that poor women from different cross sections of class and caste form into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations, provide financial, economic and social development services to their members for enhancing their income and quality of life. Community Resource persons (SHG members who came out of poverty through SHG platform) are acting as change agents and supporting in the implementation of the programme. Currently, NRLM covers 6,758 blocks, mobilizing 76.2 million rural households into 69.9 lakh SHGs.

      With over 76 million women mobilised to be part of one of India’s largest livelihoods programme, the DAY-NRLM holds great promise for advancing women’s socio-economic empowerment by organising them into SHGs and federations of the rural poor. To address various social development issues, the SHGs federations with support of their Social Action Committees have initiated various interventions.

      Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha,Secretary, Rural Development, Government of India, emphasized the importance of training SHGs and their federations to eventually serve as self-governing institutions for poor women.

      Smt. Alka Upadhyaya,Additional Secretary, Smt. Nita Kejrewal,Joint Secretary,Ministry of Rural Development,also highlighted the extensive work undertaken by DAY-NRLM to institutionalise gender across all its work and ensure that community-based platforms like social action committees are further strengthened to promote equitable access to rights, entitlements and a decent living for women and girls. Ministry officials and State Governments also attended the virtual event where Community Resource Persons (CRPs) shared the impact of Social Action Committees in addressing a myriad of issues raised by women and girls and how institutional mechanisms, convergence across departments and services, as well as mobilisation efforts played a critical role towards these efforts.

       

      Read the press note here.

      Investigating gender disparities in India’s vaccine rollout

      While less than 20% of India’s adult population has received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose, clear gender disparities have arisen in the rollout. A recent analysis by Ashoka University shows that for every 100 men, around 86 women were vaccinated. This is significantly lower than India’s sex ratio of approximately 924 women per 1,000 men. In only three states, women have received equal or higher vaccine shots than men: Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Union Territories including Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chandigarh, and states such as Delhi fare poorly. As the vaccination programme continues, addressing these gaps is an urgent priority.

      When India started its vaccination drive, women comprised a majority of recipients because of their roles in frontline work. However, as the general population started getting vaccinated, these numbers began reversing, with more men being vaccinated. In April alone, 2.4 million fewer women were vaccinated than men.

      How did we get here?

      A primary barrier to getting women vaccinated is the limited understanding of the disparate impacts Covid-19 vaccines have on them. While few clinical trials capture the sex-differentiated impacts, those that exist suggest that women experience more frequent and more severe adverse effects post-immunisation.

      Stories of what might happen post-vaccination reflect the fallacies on the ground. In a study released recently by the Self-Employed Women’s Association, poor women expressed their fears of how the vaccine might inject a virus into them and disable them from using the only asset they have – their health. There are also concerns about the effects on pregnant women, menstrual cycles, and fertility rates. Many public health researchers rue the lack of data on the gendered impacts of the vaccine, making it harder to pass on accurate information on the vaccine’s after-effects.

      The digital divide worsens the prospects for women seeking vaccinations. The reliance on online registrations (in English only) ignores the lack of access to digital devices and the internet among women. In rural areas, only 33.9% of women have used the internet compared to 55.6% of men, according to the National Family Health Survey-5. Further, only 54.8% of women have their own mobile phone, with far less owning a smartphone.

      Mobility restrictions further impede women seeking health services, as they tend to rely on male members of the household to accompany them. The burden of unpaid care work also dissuades women from travelling long distances to health clinics. Some women hesitate to get vaccinated by male health workers, stemming from cultural and religious norms. The lockdown has also prevented health workers from bringing elderly women to wait in long queues in vaccination centres.

      But there is a larger narrative around gender-based inequalities within households and the social norms that structure them. Previous studies show gender gaps in the immunisation of children in India. In a study tracking immunisation rates for male and female siblings, fewer females were immunised when compared to their male siblings. Since the comparison is between children in the same household, the study concluded that the gap cannot be due to household factors that drive immunisation (e.g. poverty or access) and, therefore, could be explained by intra-household gender inequalities. Unfortunately, we are not collecting data on intra-household Covid-19 vaccination rates to confirm this hypothesis.

      At IWWAGE, we are exploring the links between existing gender inequalities and vaccine coverage. Using data from the government’s CoWin dashboard, we found that states with a higher percentage of female vaccinations are likely to have lower poverty levels, higher female education levels, and a higher share of women reporting intra-household bargaining power.

      Two indicators stand out. First, the share of vaccinated women is positively correlated with women’s labour force participation rates, and negatively with the share of women not working due to household care work. Second, the political involvement of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions matters as well. Our findings suggest that states performing better on gender outcomes are more likely to have higher female vaccination rates.

      So what can be done?

      First, vaccine delivery must account for women’s barriers to information, digital access, and mobility. Greater engagement with community organisations in planning and targeting women, along with effectively communicating with them can help identify barriers and dispel misinformation.

      Second, vaccinations drives should be planned based on context-specific needs and preferences of women.

      Third, India needs to rely on its overstretched female frontline health staff to ensure the vaccine’s rollout. But to do so, it must ensure that they are vaccinated, trained, and adequately remunerated.

      Fourth, sex-disaggregated data needs to be collected to better target vaccines for those in need. On the CoWin dashboard, data on sex has not been reported for nearly 20% of those vaccinated until May. If India were to exclude this population, the share of women receiving the vaccine dips further to 74 women per 100 men.

      Above all, we must recognise that improving gender equality on other fronts can improve gender-balanced vaccination efforts. Without this, women will continue to face a disproportionate burden of the pandemic, threatening India’s much-needed recovery.

      Read the article published in HT here.

      Marriage reduces likelihood of urban women’s participation in workforce: Study

      Marriage reduces the likelihood of the participation of urban women in the workforce by 17%, suggests a study examining the determinants of women’s declining participation in the Indian labour force.

      The presence of young children is also associated with lower participation, as women in households with children less than five years of age are less likely to participate in the labour force across rural and urban areas, according to a report ‘Working or Not: What Determines Women’s Labour Force Participation in India?’ by The Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) at LEAD, a research centre of IFMR Society.

      While educational attainment levels continue to grow, more educated women were unemployed in 2018-19 than 2011-12, it says.

      Women’s participation in India’s labour force has been steadily declining since 1993-94. The study shows that the primary driver behind this decline has come from rural areas, with participation dropping by 24 percentage points since 1993-1994. By contrast, the participation of urban women during this period saw only a marginal decline, from 25% to 22.5%.

      Rural women’s participation declined across all states during 2011-12 and 2018-19. A number of factors explain this phenomenon, including decreasing employment opportunities for women in rural areas.

      The period between 2011 and 2019 has seen the percentage of female labour in the agricultural sector fall from 62% to 54.7%. The percentage of women employed in industrial work during this period also saw a marginal decline, from 19.9% to 19%. Although the same period also saw the share of women workers in the services sector rise significantly, this growth has largely been confined to urban areas.

      Soumya Kapoor Mehta, Head, IWWAGE at LEAD tells DH, Covid-19 has exacerbated the challenge and laid bare the sharp gendered inequalities that continue to persist in India’s labour market.

      “Millions of women, who are largely employed in the informal economy as domestic workers, garment workers, street vendors, and construction workers, have lost their jobs. The female labour force participation rate is estimated to have dropped below 20% now in the wake of the pandemic.”

      The study highlights, as the household’s income levels increase, the likelihood of a woman being in the labour force decreases. It says, however, vocational training of all types raises the probability of labour market participation in both rural and urban areas, with on-the-job training having the highest effect.

      The state’s social sector spending positively influences women’s LFPR across rural and urban areas. As such, the South of India has a higher proportion of women in the workforce than other regions in the country, says the report.

      These findings are drawn from an analysis of household-level data from India’s Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), covering the years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

      Mehta suggests that in order to have an equitable recovery, women’s unpaid care work must be urgently addressed through investments in childcare and social protection to mothers and care providers.

      “We need to invest in policies and programmes that not only improve women’s labour force participation, but also their overall labour market outcomes by enhancing access to skill development, technical and vocational training programmes, provision of family-friendly policies, provision of safe and convenient transport, and access to better-paid formal jobs or entrepreneurship opportunities,” she says.

      Read the coverage here.

      The number of working women in India has been steadily declining, here’s why

      India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforce among the developing countries. The country has seen a steady decline over the past two decades. Women in rural areas all over the country have shown a massive churn, a drop by 24% since 1993-1994, reveals Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE). Women in India’s urban areas saw a marginal decline from 25% to 22.5% during this period.IWWAGE is a grant-holder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a research centre, which aims to facilitate the agenda of women’s economic empowerment.

      The number of working women in India has been steadily declining, here’s why
      IWWAGE

      The report also says that during the period between 2011-2019, 30% of women in rural areas were engaged in low-skilled occupations whereas in urban areas, engagement of women in the service sector has shown a tremendous rise. Also, women employed in industrial work during this period witnessed a marginal decrease from 19.9% to 19%.

      During the period between 2011-2019 in the agricultural sector, the percentage of female labour saw a sharp dip from 62% to 54.7%. Overall 71% of women are engaged in low productive activities, which shows that women continue to take vulnerable and marginal jobs. More than half of it get engaged in self employment but mostly are underpaid helpers or contributing family workers, highlights the report.

      The number of working women in India has been steadily declining, here’s why
      IWWAGE

      The graph shows that during the period between 2018-2019, women who belong to scheduled tribes or Adivasi communities in rural areas participated more in labour workforce than other social groups, followed by scheduled caste or Dalit women. In 2004, women in scheduled tribes registered the highest drop followed by women in scheduled caste and other backward class groups.

      As per IWWAGE, these are some possible reasons for decreasing female labour force participation during the period between 1993-2019 —Participation of women in workforce is related to households with higher incomesThe multivariate analysis highlights this as one of the critical factors which negatively affects the participation of women in both rural and urban areas. As the income of the household increases, the involvement of women in the workforce decreases. Women tend to withdraw from the workforce once the socio-economic status of the household improves.

      The number of working women in India has been steadily declining, here’s why
      IWWAGE

      Women after getting married or with small kids tend to participate less in the workforceThe IWWAGE report further reveals that getting married reduces the likelihood of women’s participation in the workforce by 17%, especially for those who have small kids below the age of five years in both rural and urban areas. A trend from 1993 also suggests that women in both urban and rural areas have been contributing more in household duties which often goes undervalued, overlooked and underreported.

      U-shaped relationship between female labour force participation rate and educationWomen’s education is one of the major determinants in the labour force participation rate. The analysis shows that women with no or primary education work more than those with secondary or higher education. Women with high degrees are 12% more likely to engage in the labour force in urban areas.Vocational training in both rural and urban areas have a higher possibility of labour market participation. Job training in urban areas, too, has a higher impact on women’s labour market participation .

      Read the coverage at Business Insider here.

      Higher household income, lower education levels determinants of women’s labour force participation: Report

      Higher household income and lower education levels are determinants of women’s labour force participation, a report said on Friday.The findings are part of ‘Working or Not: What Determines Women’s Labour Force Participation in India?’ — a research paper, released by ‘The Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE)’. These findings are drawn from an analysis of household-level data from India’s Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), covering the years 2017-18 and 2018-19, said IWWAGE, an initiative of LEAD at Krea University.

      The initiative is aimed at building on existing research and generate new evidence to inform and facilitate the agenda of women’s economic empowerment. The analysis also looks at long-term trends using the National Sample Survey Organization’s (NSSO) Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS), covering the years 1993-94 and 2011-12.

      Women’s participation in India’s labour force has been steadily declining since 1993-94 and India has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates among developing countries. Despite decades of policies and programmes aimed at addressing this issue, the figure has remained consistently low, it said.The study shows that the primary driver behind this decline has come from rural areas, with participation dropping by 24 percentage points since 1993-1994. By contrast, the participation of urban women during this period saw only a marginal decline, from 25 percent to 22.5 per cent.”A multivariate analysis of the odds of a woman working in 2018-19 enables determination of several critical factors that significantly affect women’s participation in the labour force. The first is that higher household incomes are negatively linked to the labour force participation of women in both urban and rural areas. As the household’s income levels increase, the likelihood of a woman being in the labour force decreases,” it said.A similar relationship has been noted between women’s labour force participation rate (LFPR) and the household head’s education, suggesting that women withdraw from the labour force once the household’s socioeconomic status improves. Women’s own education is also a major determinant of their labour force participation rate, the study said women with no or primary education work more than those with higher secondary schooling, a woman with a graduate and higher degree has more than a 12 per cent chance of being in the labour force in urban areas.Similarly, vocational training of all types raises the probability of labour market participation in both rural and urban areas, with on the job training having the highest effect. Besides, for urban women, marriage reduces the likelihood of their participation in the workforce by 17 per cent. The presence of young children is also associated with lower participation, as women in households with children less than five years of age are less likely to participate in the labour force across rural and urban areas, the IWWAGE report said.

      Read more at in this coverage at Economic Times.

      What’s keeping women away from the workforce? A new study finds out

      The Covid-19 pandemic has been terrible for women in the economy.

      As per data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the overall labour force in India shrank by 1.1 million in April to 424.6 million, compared to 425.8 million in March, taking the labour force participation to 39.98 percent and increasing the unemployment rate to 8 percent.

      If we specifically study the female labour force participation (FLFP) in India, it’s been showing a downward trend since 1993-94, with the country ranking low among other developing countries. The pandemic has only exacerbated these concerns, with more women falling out of or not participating in the workforce.

      A study released on May 21 by the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) examines the various factors behind the declining number of women in the workforce, while spelling out policy measures that will help improve their economic participation.

      Titled ‘Working or Not: What Determines Women’s Labour Force Participation in India?’, the research paper shows how FLFP has dropped by about 24 percentage points in rural areas, from 52.1 percent in 1993-94 to 28.3 percent in 2018-19. The participation in urban areas, while showing a marginal decline, continues to be stagnant: From 25 percent in 1993-94 to 22.5 percent in 2018-19. This is way below the global average of 45 percent. The FLFP rate is estimated to have dropped below 20percent now in the wake of the pandemic, Soumya Kapoor Mehta, head, IWWAGE, tells Forbes India. IWWAGE is a non-profit initiative of LEAD [Leveraging Evidence for Access and Development] at Krea University.

      The findings of the study are drawn from an analysis of household-level data from India’s Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), and is among the few research papers to analyse the most recent PLFS data for 2018-19 that was released last year. It also assesses long-term employment trends using the National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSO) Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS), covering the years 1993-94 and 2011-12.

      “Female labour force participation is volatile across age groups, from 15 to 59 years, both in rural and urban areas and across sectors,” says Ruchika Chaudhary, senior research fellow, IWWAGE, who is the lead author of the report. She maps out the extent to which key factors influence whether or not a woman takes up employment. “Quantifying this problem is really important, otherwise we won’t get to know the magnitude. What prompted us to undertake this research was to understand what really drives women’s labour force participation, factors like education levels, social and cultural norms, access to policies, childcare and other supportive infrastructure, demand for female labour etc.”

      The study also finds how social groups influence FLFP, with employment opportunities for women belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in rural and urban areas being affected due to factors such as labour market discrimination, skill mismatch, lack of adequate jobs, and employer bias against women from marginalised sections of the society. “The relationship between FLFP and these factors is not a straightforward one, and we have attempted to disentangle the impact of each of them,” Chaudhary says.

      The study highlights a U-shaped relationship between female labour force participation rate and education. While women with no primary education work more than those with higher secondary schooling [since they are usually part of households with high economic distress], a woman with a graduate degree has a 12 percent more chance of being employed in urban areas. Vocational training of all types raises the probability of FLFP in both rural and urban areas, with on-the-job training having the highest impact. It also notes that as household income levels increase, the likelihood of a woman being in the labour force decreases.

      Mehta explains that while unpaid care work done by women happens more or less simultaneously along with their jobs in rural areas, the burden is more in urban areas, particularly post-pandemic. This could be attributed to nuclearisation of families, early marriages [study finds that marriage reduces the likelihood of women’s workforce participation by 17 percent in urban areas], involvement of the household in taking a decision whether a woman should work or not, and other factors like husband’s income, wealth etc, she says. “There is also an oversupply of educated women but not enough attention is given to creating commensurate jobs for them.” The absence of good quality, formal jobs results in a majority of women being engaged in unpaid or informal employment, the study states.

      According to Mehta, women in urban areas typically get absorbed in industries like construction, tourism, HR etc, and the supply of jobs in those sectors has been hit by Covid-19. “Care duties are also increasing at home. So many women have been forced to give up their jobs right now,” she says, explaining that close to 70 percent women prefer to have regular jobs that are part-time and flexible, and this is becoming possible to some extent due to the emergence of gig and Work from Home (WFH) models during the pandemic.

      Chaudhary points to a World Bank estimation that if we create these flexible jobs for women that take into account prohibitive domestic duties and other issues women face, the FLFP rate would increase by almost 20 percentage points. “We need a set of public policies that recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work in the form of money, services and time,” she says. This points to creating relevant care infrastructure and facilities, apart from policy regulations that facilitate access to skill development and better paid formal jobs, entrepreneurship opportunities, safe and convenient travel / mobility options, affordable child care and maternity benefits etc. “We need to figure out how to create more space for women in the emerging gig economy, and build unconventional labour markets and work systems that encourage more participation.”

      According to Chaudhary, we also need to invest in robust systems to collect gender disaggregated data, and adopt innovations that allow gathering more information through abridged versions of time-use surveys. “Investing in gender-responsive economic recovery, through policies, schemes and budgets that adopt a gender lens, is the need of the hour,” she says.

      Read the coverage in Forbes here.

      IWWAGE Study Highlights Reasons For Declining Female Labour Force Participation In India

      The Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) at LEAD today released a research paper, ‘Working or Not: What Determines Women’s Labour Force Participation in India?’ examining the determinants of women’s declining participation in the Indian labour force.

      These findings are drawn from an analysis of household-level data from India’s Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), covering the years 2017-18 and 2018-19 and is among the few research papers to analyse the PLFS data for 2018-19. The analysis also looks at long-term trends using the National Sample Survey Organization’s (NSSO) Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS), covering the years 1993-94 and 2011-12.

      Women’s participation in India’s labour force has been steadily declining since 1993-94 and India has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates among developing countries. Despite decades of policies and programmes aimed at addressing this issue, the figure has remained consistently low. The study shows that the primary driver behind this decline has come from rural areas, with participation dropping by 24 percentage points since 1993-1994. By contrast, the participation of urban women during this period saw only a marginal decline, from 25 percent to 22.5 percent.

      The gender disparity in the workforce is evident across the country, with even the better-performing regions displaying a colossal gap when compared to male workforce participation across both urban and rural areas. While many factors influence these statistics, a number of trends have stood out.

      Demographic and regional trends

      As previously highlighted, the precipitous drop in the employment levels of rural women has been a major factor contributing to the decline of India’s female labour force participation rate (FLFPR). Rural women’s participation declined across all states during 2011-12 and 2018-19. A number of factors explain this phenomenon, including decreasing employment opportunities for women in rural areas.

      The NSSO’s data (1993-94 and 2011-12) also highlights that this decline is not limited to young women workers and that women’s participation has decreased substantially across all age-cohorts.

      This is especially true of those aged between 25 and 59, including India’s young women – the demographic dividend that is expected to join and remain in the workforce.

      Overall, the long-term trends from 1993 onwards suggest that women across both urban and rural areas have been increasingly contributing to domestic duties. Although these activities have large economic benefits not only for the households, but also the economy, this work often goes overlooked, undervalued and underreported.

      Social identities and labour force participation

      The female rural labour market has always been distinguished by the high participation levels of women from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities. Across rural areas, these two demographic groups typically comprise the major share of the female labour force. In particular, women from ST or Adivasi communities show the highest participation rates among all social groups, closely followed by SC or Dalit women. This is attributed to generally high household poverty levels among these categories, and higher mobility and fewer restrictions on working, particularly for occupations that require manual labour.

      Although a decline in labour force participation has been witnessed across all social groups since 2004, the highest drop has been registered for ST women, followed by SC groups and Other Backwards Classes (OBC) in rural areas. This trend has carried over into urban areas as well, with ST women once again experiencing the highest decline in this period. These changes stem from factors such as labour market discrimination, skill mismatch, lack of adequate jobs, and employer bias against women from marginalized sections of the society.

      Sectoral employment trends

      The period between 2011 and 2019 has seen the percentage of female labour in the agricultural sector fall from 62 percent to 54.7 percent. The percentage of women employed in industrial work during this period also saw a marginal decline, from 19.9 percent to 19 percent. Although the same period also saw the share of women workers in the services sector rise significantly, this growth has largely been confined to urban areas.

      Thirty percent of women in rural India are performing low-skilled occupations, compared to 19 per cent in urban areas. Within the agricultural sector, over 71 percent of women are engaged in low productive activities.

      The occupational structure of women’s workforce shows that most women continue to undertake marginal and vulnerable jobs, and that more than half work as self-employed. Of those who are engaged in self-employment, most are unpaid helpers and contributing family workers.

      Determinants of women’s labour force participation
      A multivariate analysis of the odds of a woman working in 2018-19 enables determination of several critical factors that significantly affect women’s participation in the labour force. The first is that higher household incomes are negatively linked to the labour force participation of women in both urban and rural areas. As the household’s income levels increase, the likelihood of a woman being in the labour force decreases. A similar relationship has been noted between women’s LFPR and the household head’s education, suggesting that women withdraw from the labour force once the household’s socioeconomic status improves.

      Women’s own education is a major determinant of their labour force participation rate. There is a clear U-shaped relationship between female labour force participation rate and education. While women with no or primary education work more than those with higher secondary schooling, a woman with a graduate and higher degree has more than a 12 percent chance of being in the labour force in urban areas. Similarly, vocational training of all types raises the probability of labour market participation in both rural and urban areas, with on the job training having the highest effect.

      For urban women, marriage reduces the likelihood of their participation in the workforce by 17 percent. The presence of young children is also associated with lower participation, as women in households with children less than five years of age are less likely to participate in the labour force across rural and urban areas.

      The state’s social sector spending positively influences women’s LFPR across rural and urban areas. As such, the South of India has a higher proportion of women in the workforce than other regions in the country. Finally, social group and religion also play a dominant role in determining women’s paid work participation in India. Both are important correlates of female labour force participation, with SC/ST women and Hindu women being more active in the labour market than Muslim and upper-caste women.

      Read the coverage in BW 

      Coverage in The Free Press Journal 

      Coverage in OutlookIndia.com

      Coverage in Yahoo News.