The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post
Sukalyan Talukdar, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
The Economy of India is the seventh-largest in the world by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country is classified as a newly industrialised country, one of the G-20 major economies, a member of BRICS and a developing economy with an average growth rate of approximately 7% over the last two decades.
So far the story sounds good.
But if we give a closer look at the gender dynamics in the GDP, the other side of the coin emerges infront of us.
According to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), India has one of the world’s largest gender gaps when it comes to labour force participation, with women accounting for only 23-24% of the total labour force and generating a mere 17% of the share of GDP. This is far below the global average where female workers generate 37% of the world’s GDP.
The workplace gender gap manifests itself in three ways. First women do not participate in the same numbers as men. Second, women work fewer hours than men. And finally, women are disproportionately represented in lower productivity sectors such as agriculture.
“A lot of work done by women is invisible, un-quantified, unrecognized and unrecognizable,” says economist Ritu Dewan, president of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies. Works like child care, caring for the elderly, cooking, cleaning, collecting firewood or water are mostly done by women. Sadly these works are often unpaid and not recognized as ‘work’, hence excluded from GDP calculations.
Even if a woman gets into organised sector she has to face many choices as she moves up her career path. Things like marriage, children, and family responsibility forces women to leave their jobs.
The situation cannot improve without gender parity in society. Development of women on four indicators in particular—education level, financial and digital inclusion, legal protection and the reduction of unpaid care work—could help accelerate progress,” as reported by MGI.
Government can enact laws that would remove barriers to women entering the workforce, mandating protection of women at the workplace and legislating quotas for women in political office and on company boards. The next step should be to increase access to education and addressing drop-out rates by girls at the higher school levels. This could yield social benefits such as lowering the prevalence of child marriage and improving reproductive and maternal health and finally enable greater participation in the paid workforce.
Similarly, increasing access of Internet services, mobile phones and financial services can change the current scenario to a great extent. E.g. by accessing the Internet, a woman can go for job searches, networking, and conducting businesses.
The Government has already launched various schemes such as Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana in 2010, Sabla or Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls in 2011. Launching of these schemes are a welcome step from the Government but we will have to be aware for greater success of these schemes.
Now if we enable women to participate at par with men, India can increase its 2025 gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $4.83 trillion, by between 16% and 60% as per the study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). The amount can be up to $2.9 trillion.
Companies such as Flipkart, Vodafone, Accenture and Godrej recently announced enhanced maternity leave policies, and minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi recently said women should get eight months maternity leave.
Companies have begun focusing on gender diversity—increasing paternity leave, for instance. Last month, Intel India increased paternity leave from five days to ten. Companies such as Accenture have women employee mentorship programmes, a women’s network and training and leadership development for its women employees, said a company spokesperson.
“These are baby steps, But they are a beginning”, says Sairee Chahal, founder of Sheroes.in .