Giving Compass' Take:

• Sohini Bhattacharya explains how traditional gender roles are preventing women from achieving equal workforce participation in India. 

• How can philanthropy help to overcome the social norms that keep women out of the workforce? What are the consequences for India's progress if women do not reach gender parity n the workforce? 

• Learn about the financial cost of gender inequality

It’s a well-known fact that women’s workforce participation in India has been sliding rapidly. In 2004-05, the share of working-age women in paid jobs was 43%–the same as in 1993-94. This dropped to 27% in 2015-16*.  In rural India, the slide has been much worse as women’s contribution to agricultural work is largely invisible and the sector has not generated employment for women formally.

The gender gap in the labour force is rooted in challenges that working women across the world face, including juggling work and family responsibilities, sexism at the workplace, unequal wage and unsafe work environments, lack of crèche and other facilities at work, and so on.

While all of these reasons are important to address, the scenario also needs to be studied from the viewpoint of the traditional roles women have played in society for centuries, and the patriarchal mindsets at play in India.

The McKinsey Global Institute Report – The Power of Parity, on how gender inequality affects GDP and the economy of India, links, for the first time, gender equality in work with gender equality in society, saying that, “The former is not possible without the latter”.

“When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.”

“When a mother works for pay, the children suffer.”

Reactions like these bring home the point that mindsets at work and home for women are intrinsically linked and that promoting positive gender relations in the workplace and within families together can lead to improving the rights and lives of women workers. In other words, gender attitudes inform society’s reaction to a working woman.

Read the full article about gender parity in the workforce by Sohini Bhattacharya at India Development Review.