Women work participation seems underestimated: Do Statistics Lie?

Seema is a hard working  school teacher with a tough schedule. She earns for her bread and butter. Back home, she has an equally punishing cooking schedule. She runs a customised pre order based snacks business. This is her way of earning and paying for her fun trips and breaks.

Are women missing from the Indian workforce?

Not really! Atleast, it does not appear so in urban India. There may be few in the corporate board rooms. However, around me are happy, assertive women who are working to run their households and lead better lives.

Most unskilled jobs in the unorganized sector are dominantly held by women. Women are employed in diverse roles , from household help, cooks, vegetable vendors, beauticians, petrol bunk and retail roles, office admin roles, healthcare workers and so on. They form the foundation of support system on which many professionally qualified urban women are being able to continue their jobs, higher in the value chain. The education, retail, facility management, healthcare and tourism industries maybe the biggest employer for women, where they are in various kinds of roles.

How are we measuring how many women are gainfully earning? There are so many enterprising women, not high in value chain , but fulfilling product needs and services in our society. They are self employed, more grassroot players, making impact where it matters.

At the household level, the helps earn well to be able to educate their children and enjoy considerable support from women of the homes they work in. Indian homes are supporting their help with financial aid for their milestone events, health emergencies etc. There is an emotional support system with the lady of the house in advisory role. There is an informal system in place and it works. They own properties in villages and live in cities in homes provided by the government. Their children are studying to move up the value chain. With digital money payments, younger women have control of bank accounts and funds. There is hope and progress.

How are we measuring all these women in the workforce participation? Is it that the Indian women have always been working but never been counted?  American Professor Claudia Goldins research is read worthy and something scholars need to tweak for the Indian context, if they haven’t already.

Statistics needs to be able to capture a lot more beyond the labour and boardroom numbers. Maybe digital payments will present different and new stories.

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About the Author

Writer in Me

Born in small town India to professional parents in an age when working women were a rarity. Grew up among the bright,liberal and educated minds, who valued education, freedom for women, character and values. read more...

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