Raising concern over the declining trend of participation of women in the labour force, the NITI Aayog recently recommended various steps to boost female participation. Despite growth in the economy and the working-age population in India, the participation of women in the labour force has been declining. This is an alarming trend when seen against the backdrop of increasing crimes against women and widespread gender discrimination. India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforce across the world, oscillating between 16 percent and 23 percent in the last few years. It is less than half the global average. According to the World Bank, women’s participation in India’s formal economy is among the lowest in the world.
The NITI Aayog has proposed fiscal incentives like tax breaks or startup grants for companies with about one-third of their workforce as women and people with disabilities. A survey conducted across urban centres in India has revealed that women are more likely to take up platform jobs after their education and marriage. Digital platform companies offer flexibility and choice of labour to all workers in general, and women in particular, a benefit missing in traditional employment. Similarly, persons with disabilities have a low labour force participation rate. Structural barriers like access to education and lack of skilling have hindered participation of these two demographic groups in the country’s labour force. There is a need for businesses to have a higher share of women managers and supervisors in the organisations to ensure that communication with workers does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.