Women workforce in the country fell to 18 per cent in 2019 from 37 per cent in 2006, non-government organisation Azad Foundation said on the International Women’s Day on Sunday. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report this year ranks India at the 149th position out of 153 countries on economic participation and opportunity, the organisation said and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create gender-sensitive infrastructure.
According to the Foundation, the Global Gender Gap Report estimates that raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP significantly. “The declining women’s labour force participation (from 37 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2019), gender pay gap (23 per cent), high rates of informal work (93 per cent) with lack of social security are seen as impediments to the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women in India,” the Azad Foundation said in a statement.
Azad Foundation believes that infrastructure and norms play a crucial role in impeding women’s entry and sustenance in the workforce. “We appeal to the Prime Minister and Minister of Women and Child Development for their attention and positive action towards creating gender-sensitive infrastructure,” Azad Foundation Founder and Executive Director Meenu Vadera said.
The gender-sensitive infrastructure included full-time creches for children, affordable and safe working women’s hostels, and basic public provisions such as piped water, she said in the statement. The organisation also suggested hygienic washrooms at public places and safe public transport for enabling women to access decent and dignified livelihood opportunities. Meanwhile, the ITC said it has been encouraging participation of women in its manufacturing facilities across the country. “ITC’s Pudukkottai (Trichy) unit in Tamil Nadu… has close to 85 per cent women workforce across all three shifts in a day,” the company said in a statement.
The company’s foods unit at Mysuru in Karnataka is the first FMCG factory in the region to deploy women across all shifts and their ratio is around 60 per cent, it added. “To encourage the participation of women in the workforce, ITC’s foods business has been carrying out several other initiatives at its factory locations. As a confidence-building measure, family members of the women employees are invited to the plants to show them the work environment and culture,” ITC said.