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      Not Enough Paid Opportunities For Women In New Normal

      In its 75th year of independence, India has more women enrolling in schools, colleges and universities, even as the number of women joining the workforce is on the decline, shows data. And the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated this pace with women, more than men, losing their jobs over the past year. Among them, many might never find their way back to work again.

      Prabhakar Singh, head (institutional business), Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), said: “The most disproportionate loss of jobs because of the Covid-19 first wave was among urban women, who account for nearly 3% of total employment but accounted for 39% of total job losses. Of the 6.3 million jobs lost, urban women accounted for 2.4 million jobs lost,” he said.

      Only silver lining: Women in white collar jobs in services sectors like technology, consulting and BFSI were not hit, said Anjali Raghuvanshi, chief people officer, Randstad India.

      In fact, the share of women in hiring increased in H2 of 2020 in BFSI, manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, shared Deval Singh, business head – telecom, IT&ITeS, media and government, TeamLease Services. For instance, BFSI witnessed a rise in women participation from 39% to 41% in 2020.

      But barring these segments, a high number of women seem to be dropping out of the workforce due to mental and physical health reasons, she said. The burden of domestic responsibilities thrust upon them by Covid-19, is also a reason.

      When it comes to semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, Sona Mitra, principal economist at the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), said that men are taking over some of the jobs, earlier held by women.

      Example: the construction sector and MNREGA. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2019-20 shows that the construction sector witnessed a decline of 26% in jobs between April and June 2020 as compared to April and June 2019 with women losing more jobs than men.

      “Generally, women used to take up work under MNREGA. But after many migrant workers returned to their villages, the number of men participating in MNREGA work has significantly gone up,” she added. In agriculture too women are being edged out by farm mechanisation with the exception of states like Punjab and Haryana where women are being trained for modern farming.

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