Guest AuthorNeha Bagaria

Has Budget 2018 addressed the needs of women in the workforce?

By | Neha Bagaria | Founder & CEO | JobsforHer

You would imagine that a growing economy like India, would fling open doors of equal opportunity for it’s men and women alike; where women are finally as educated as the men. But strikingly so, women are disappearing from the workplace at exactly the same time girls are making great advances in education. If the number of women who quit jobs in India between 2004 and 2012 was a city, it would be 19.6 million strong and the third-most populated in the world after Shanghai and Beijing (1). Let’s take a look at the statistics:

41% of females are enrolled in colleges, according to survey conducted in 2010. And only..

27% of Indian women are currently in the labour force. In over two decades preceding  2013, female labour force participation in India fell from 34.8% to 27%, according to an April 2017 World Bank report.

20 million Indian women who quit their jobs between 2004-12. Around 65-70% of women who quit never return to work at all, according to a study by the World Bank in collaboration with the National Sample Survey Organisation.

0.9 million jobs increased for men in 2017, but 2.4 million women off-ramped, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)

Why are women staying away from the workforce?

Despite all the various schemes provided in last years Budget like reskilling, to promote women’s inclusiveness at the workplace, India’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index (November 2017 report), fell to a low of 108, which was down by 21 places as compared to the previous report. There is little doubt that the under use of educated women in the workforce is increasing as per the WEF report. My expectation from this Budget was far greater than any before but was greatly disappointed to see a lack of mention or a continued support to Corporates providing additional benefits to women.

The only benefit Budget 2018 did to promote women’s employment was a change in the rate of EPF from 12% to 8%, which increases their effective take-home. But is this enough of an incentive for women leaving the workplace by the millions? Government efforts such as Make in India,Digital India,etc will not have the desired effect until it nurtures and supports women.

We need to see a stronger focus on getting and retaining more women in the workforce. We need impactful women specific employment policies that can absorb and support women. This has to be further pushed by providing the right skills and education through separate gender budget cells in each state.

Almost 66% of our women fall under this “unpaid work” criteria. We need to see non-manual jobs for women increasing by focussing on reskilling for women. Else, this will further alienate  women and make it difficult for companies that are striving for gender equality.

Those will succeed best who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool,” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum (WEF).

Originally published by Neha Bagaria @ LinkedIn

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