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Surge in Women’s Employment Marks a Turning Point in India’s Labour Landscape

Bhubaneswar: Amidst the backdrop of gender disparities, the latest India Employment Report-2024, jointly released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD), illuminates both the advancements and persisting challenges faced by women in India’s labour market.

Women around the world, particularly in developing nations like India, have grappled with systemic biases, hindering their access to opportunities in both societal and economic realms. The report delves into the intricacies of these disparities, shedding light on women’s participation rates, educational attainment, and employment prospects.

In 2022, women’s participation in the workforce and their earnings remained significantly lower compared to men, with a notable concentration in self-employment, informal jobs, or low-skilled manual occupations. Educational attainment also posed a challenge for women, with only 33.6 per cent possessing secondary education or higher, compared to 44.6 per cent of men.

However, amidst these challenges, the report highlights positive trends, particularly in labour force participation rates (LFPR) and the worker population ratio among women. In 2023, the LFPR among adult women experienced a substantial increase of 4.2 percentage points, surpassing the 1.3 percentage-point increase observed among men. Similarly, the worker population ratio among women exhibited a significant rise, particularly in rural areas, indicating a greater inclusion of women in the workforce.

Among youths, both male and female, there was a noteworthy improvement in LFPR and the worker population ratio. In rural areas, the increase was particularly pronounced, suggesting enhanced opportunities for youth employment outside urban centers.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist, especially regarding the unemployment rate among youths, particularly women. While the unemployment rate decreased, it remained three times higher among youths compared to adults. Additionally, unemployment rates were higher among youths with higher levels of education, particularly female youths with graduate degrees or higher. In 2023, female youths with graduate or higher degrees faced an unemployment rate of 34.8 per cent, underscoring the need for targeted interventions to address barriers to employment faced by educated women.

Overall, the findings of the India Employment Report-2024 shed light on both the progress made and the challenges that persist in ensuring women’s meaningful participation in India’s labour market. Efforts to address gender disparities in education, promote women’s employment opportunities, and reduce unemployment rates among educated female youths are essential for achieving gender equality and inclusive economic growth in India.

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