Geographies in Depth

Women are worst hit by India's unemployment crisis

A woman works at a textile mill in Mumbai, India March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas Employees work inside a textile mill of Orient Craft Ltd. at Gurgaon in Haryana, northern India April 16, 2014. When Narendra Modi talks about creating jobs in labour-intensive manufacturing, textile entrepreneur Sudhir Dhingra hopes the Indian opposition leader means business. Dhingra, who employs 30,000 workers in more than 20 factories around the capital New Delhi, says that politicians - for all their promises - have shown no interest in acting to avert a looming employment crisis. Early on, Dhingra survived a change of fashion that saddled him with a pile of unsold stock. Learning his lessons - to keep close tabs on the market and control costs - he built Orient Craft into $250 million business making 200,000 garments daily india women women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous

Female employees are expected to be the worst affected by new and emerging technologies. Image: REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Niharika Sharma
Reporter, Quartz India
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Education, Gender and Work

  • Female workers are facing the brunt of India’s unemployment crisis.
  • The number of women in paid work has dropped dramatically in recent years and they remain far more vulnerable to job insecurity than men.

Female workers are bearing the brunt of India’s unemployment crisis.

The labour force participation rate (LFPR) among women in the country, already one of the world’s lowest, continues to slide, according to a joint report by Bain & Company and Google. The fall has been sharpest in the 15-24 years age group.

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A woman works at a textile mill in Mumbai, India March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas Employees work inside a textile mill of Orient Craft Ltd. at Gurgaon in Haryana, northern India April 16, 2014. When Narendra Modi talks about creating jobs in labour-intensive manufacturing, textile entrepreneur Sudhir Dhingra hopes the Indian opposition leader means business. Dhingra, who employs 30,000 workers in more than 20 factories around the capital New Delhi, says that politicians - for all their promises - have shown no interest in acting to avert a looming employment crisis. Early on, Dhingra survived a change of fashion that saddled him with a pile of unsold stock. Learning his lessons - to keep close tabs on the market and control costs - he built Orient Craft into $250 million business making 200,000 garments daily india women women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous
The labour force participation rate (LFPR) among women in India. Image: Bain & Company - Google report

LFPR is the share of people in the 16-64 age group, who are currently employed or seeking employment. Individuals still undergoing studies, housewives and persons above 64 are not factored in.

At present, the overall unemployment rate in India is 7%, but it is as high as 18% among women.

A woman works at a textile mill in Mumbai, India March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas Employees work inside a textile mill of Orient Craft Ltd. at Gurgaon in Haryana, northern India April 16, 2014. When Narendra Modi talks about creating jobs in labour-intensive manufacturing, textile entrepreneur Sudhir Dhingra hopes the Indian opposition leader means business. Dhingra, who employs 30,000 workers in more than 20 factories around the capital New Delhi, says that politicians - for all their promises - have shown no interest in acting to avert a looming employment crisis. Early on, Dhingra survived a change of fashion that saddled him with a pile of unsold stock. Learning his lessons - to keep close tabs on the market and control costs - he built Orient Craft into $250 million business making 200,000 garments daily india women women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous
Unemployment rate in India. Image: Bain & Company - Google report

“If actions are not taken on an urgent basis, then the economic and employment gap between men and women will continue to widen in India at an alarming rate,” the report noted.

Going by current trends, around 400 million jobs will be needed for women alone in the coming years

On unstable ground

Female workers will also be the worst hit by emerging technologies.

“Women hold most of the administrative and data-processing roles that artificial intelligence and other technologies threaten to usurp,” the Bain & Company-Google report said, citing a 2019 study by the Washington-based Institute of Women’s Policy Research. “As routine jobs become automated, the pressure on women will intensify and they will experience higher unemployment rates.”

Besides, women who are actively participating in the workforce are 2.9 times more likely than men to be unemployed, it further added.

Creating job opportunities is the need of the hour. However, encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs will provide a long-term solution. “By creating jobs, fuelling innovation and furthering investment in health and education, entrepreneurship among women could transform India’s economy and society,” the report noted.

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Geographies in DepthEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
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