india

In Focus podcast | Why does India have such low rates of women in the workforce?

Sona Mitra speaks to us on why despite increasing educational and decreasing fertility levels, India continues to have not as many women in the workforce as even our neighbouring countries

The COVID-19 pandemic caused not only a health emergency in the country, but also led to mass economic distress with the loss of jobs and livelihoods. India already one of the lowest rates of women in the workforce, and the pandemic worsened this situation — it forced women into jobs that paid lower rates than pre-pandemic and it added significantly to their domestic work burden — with schools remaining closed, women were forced to stay at home to care for children. In the April-June 2020 quarter, during the lockdown, the percentage of women in the labour force was only 15.5%. But this problem has persisted for years — despite increasing educational levels among women and decreasing fertility levels, India continues to have not as many women in the workforce as even our neighbouring countries. What are some of the reasons behind this? How is a country’s economy impacted when 50% of its population is left out of economic activity? How can policies be changed in order to encourage more women into the workforce?

Guest: Sona Mitra, principal economist, Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy, lead, Krea University

Host: Zubeda Hamid

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