Assocham pushes for gender parity as women workforce falls

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New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) A top industry body on Monday called for the creation of more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for women as the female labour force participation (FLFP) rate in India fell 10 per cent in the last decade.

“Though there was a spurt in the number of working women in India during 2000-2005, increasing from 34 per cent to 37 per cent, the female labour force participation rate has reduced continuously thereafter and reached 27 per cent in 2014, particularly during the period when economy was experiencing unprecedented growth according to World Bank’s report on World Development Indicators,” a study said.

India has recorded the lowest FLFP rate among BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, noted the study, titled ‘Female Labour Force Participation in India’, by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and knowledge firm Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).

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India rates lowest in terms of FLFP with a dismal score and a huge gap between it and the other BRICS countries – China (64 per cent), Brazil (59 per cent), Russia (57 per cent), South Africa (45 per cent) and India (27 per cent), it said.

The study suggested promoting skill training programmes for women, setting up child care centres in large numbers, ensuring women safety and security in every sphere through efforts by both the Central and state governments and other such measures to boost female labour force participation in India.

Even a 10 per cent increase in FLFP rate can boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.3 per cent, according to The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), it added.

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The gap between rural male and female labour force participation in India in 2011 stood at about 30 per cent while in urban centres gap was more pronounced (about 40 per cent).

“This can be attributed to social and cultural curtailment and often the lack of work opportunities,” the study noted.

As per the latest available data, the FLFP rate in India was about 36 per cent as of 2011-12, with 31 out of 35 states and union territories scoring rates below national average, while only Andhra Pradesh (erstwhile), Chhattisgarh, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh fared better in this regard.

“Initiatives like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Make in India, Start-up India and others are positive steps in the direction to improve female labour force participation in India, however, more initiatives towards women’s empowerment need to be taken to create an enabling environment for increasing female employment and entrepreneurship,” the study stated.

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