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Low Female Labour Force Participation

Low Female Labour Force Participation

UPSC CSE Mains SYLLABUS:GENERAL STUDIES-1-Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Low Female Labour Force Participation

  • India has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world. In 2017, only 27% of adult Indian women had a job or were actively looking for one. The comparable figure for the rest of world was 50%.
  • Various reasons are present which has resulted in poor participation of women in labour force. These reasons should be properly identified and credible policy measures should be put in place to overcome them.


  • Equally alarming is the fact that the earnings and wages of women who are employed are low. 
  • According to the Global Wage Report 2018-19, the hourly wages of women are 34% less than men in India, a disparity that is highest among 73 countries mentioned in the report. 
  • It is often suggested that a major reason for the poor labour market outcomes of Indian women is the high incidence of child marriage in India.
  • Advocacy group ActionAid estimates around 33% child marriages in the world happen in India.
  • The average age of marriage for women also continues to be significantly lower compared to that in many other developing countries such as countries such as Brazil, Chile, Kenya and Pakistan.
  • Early marriage hampers labour market prospects of women in two ways.
  • First, it interrupts a woman’s formal education, which negatively impacts her labour market outcomes.
  • Second, early marriage leads to early motherhood.
  • This causes younger brides to focus more on the home (raising children, for example), in turn, reducing their likelihood of participation and productivity in the labour market.
  • Researchers have shown that this fall is because of rising household incomes that reduce the need for women to join the labour force; increased enrolment in higher education by women which delays their entry into the labour force, and cultural and security factors that keep women away from the labour market in India.
  • Further, it is evident that employers are also biased against hiring women.

What is needed:

  • One way to address the issue of dismal labour market prospects of Indian women is through policies that can potentially delay their marriage.
  • Legal measures to delay the marriage are likely to be made. However, this should happen through education.
  • The issue of wider, deeper and more meaningful participation of women not just in the workforce, but also in legislatures, police, armed forces and the judiciary, is a complex but very critical issue.
  • While lower-tier governments have achieved gender parity through reservation of legislative seats, a similar Bill for Parliament has been pending for decades.
  • As for the workforce, much needs to be done, beyond maternity benefit entitlements and other quotas.
  • Skilling the women workforce is needed.
  • Financial inclusion, financial literacy and financial solutions are essential for women.
  • Safe work environment is also needed to make them comfortable to come to work.

SOURCE:”Hindustan Times.”


Owing to the low female labour force participation rate in Indi, analyse the various issues that has resulted in such a low participation rate and what could be the possible measures needed to overcome it.