11 Data Backed Reasons, Why Women Can’t Work In India!

Dear Sonali Kulkarni, here is a list of 11 reasons, backed by data, explaining why women can't work for salaried jobs in India!

Dear Sonali Kulkarni, here is a list of 11 reasons, backed by data, explaining why women can’t work for salaried jobs in India! But unpaid labour is her duty to the family!

I have loved your work Sonali, from Pooja in Dil Chahta Hai to Margazhi Poove in May Madham. I recently saw a viral video where you demanded to be clapped for calling women “lazy”.

You are an excellent speaker, but I would have clapped a lot more than the Men’s Rights Activists did for your eloquent speech if you had spoken about other reasons why women can’t and don’t work.

Why women can’t work? Why?

Here are some reasons to understand why women don’t work if you can. Let me give you a heads-up—”laziness” is not one of those reasons.

Unending chores at home

Whether women have a job, they work throughout the day, either in the office or in our homes. Even in homes where people can afford house help, she is still busy organizing groceries and managing children, in-laws, and others.

You don’t have to believe me; here is some data to consider:

“At the all-India level, nearly 92% of women aged 15 to 59 report having undertaken domestic chores at some time during the day. In comparison, only 27% of men at the national level report doing so, indicating a profound male-female gap when it comes to participating in domestic work,” wrote Rahul Menon, deputy director of Centre for Economic Data and Analysis, in the article, GenderStats 11: How Many Men Participate in Household Chores?

Miniscule workforce

Today, Women form about 15% of the workforce in India, which is way lower than women from our mom’s generation did in the 90s when it was over 30%. Do you mean to say our moms raised us to be lazy, and that is why we refuse to go to work?

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With such a low rate of women’s participation in the workforce, imagine how difficult it is for women to break the barrier and enter the workforce.


We have seen everything from being asked unwanted questions in interviews to mansplaining at boardroom meetings to stealing credits. I urge you to talk to more women who go out and work to understand the everyday battle of sexism they face, and you would know how difficult it is for us to work.

Early marriages

I don’t have to tell you that urban India, which has most jobs today, sees most women marrying in their 20s. If this information seems anecdotal, consider the following marriage data:

“More than 20% of women aged 20-24 were married before turning 18, which is the legal age for marriage in the country. Meanwhile, in 15 districts, more than 50% of women were married by the age of 18 among women in the age group of 20–24 years.”

When women are married at such a young age, where is the question of them finding a job, having a career, and growing with it?

Rampant sexual harassment at the workplace

A report compiled by the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (WICCI) Council of Ethics. It says 70.6% (of respondents to the survey) marked “Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person.”

The report has a lot of damning data about how men misbehave with women in the workplace.

Inaccessible public transport

Accessible public transport has a huge impact on helping women find opportunities. “The World Bank states that women’s mobility is affected by restrictive socio-cultural norms, a lack of safe and sufficient transport infrastructure, gender-blind planning and governance, and a lack of access to information and communication technology,” said a report compiled by IDR.

Motherhood penalty

Are you wondering what is it? I mean, I wondered as well when I first heard it. Motherhood brings joy. How can that be a penalty? It is a term used to describe the loss we experience in our earnings while we raise children.

“Having a young child in the home depresses mothers’ employment, an inverse relationship that has intensified over time,” said a World Bank policy paper.

Elderly care

I know you spoke about how women prefer men living away from their parents, as they do not want to go through “Saas Sasur Jhanjhat” (difficulties of managing in-laws), but believe it or not, this is one of the top five reasons why women leave work. Elder care includes managing in-laws as well.

Unequal pay

There is a whole lot of data available on this. The pay gap is much more apparent in Bollywood, where you work. When you have been a victim of this in-your-face disparity, it doesn’t take long to understand and empathize with how demotivating it can be to put in your best efforts and still earn lesser simply because you are not a man.

To save you the trouble of googling, here is some data from HR consulting firm Randstad: Women in India, for instance, earn 20% less than men. At the current rate of change, it is expected to take a staggering 202 years to close the gap.

Cultural reasons

How often have you heard the following questions being asked to a man:

  • Oh, we don’t want our daughter-in-law to go out and work!
  • Oh? Will you work? Who will manage your children while you are away?
  • Your marriage is just a few months away, and you will move to a different city; why do you want to start work here and now?’

Unconscious bias

By now, I hope you are aware that the world over, men are judged for the potential they offer, and women are judged based on their past performance. That is the extent of unconscious bias we deal with daily.

In conclusion

Finally, here is a request to Sonali, friendly unsolicited advice. When apologetic, we tend to internalize the incident to learn from our mistakes. We ask ourselves, what did I say was wrong that it offended so many people, and how could I have done better?

If I were going through the apologetic phase, I would read the objections people have raised about my speech. When your public apology said, “If unknowingly I may have caused pain,” shows that you have not bothered to understand our pain, the reasons why society calls us “lazy”.

So, please don’t rant about other women on a platform that your celebrity status gives you so easily.

Image source: Fizkes, free and edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Shilpashree Jagannathan

I am a journalist from India. I now live in Toronto and have worked as a business reporter for leading newspapers in India. I have tracked telecom, infrastructure, and real estate news developments and have read more...

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