Women in Indian Economy

  01-Jun-2018 06:03:05

women economy gender equality employment

The state views women and men in accordance to their specific gender roles. The public-private distinction has been so much widely embedded in the roots of the society that it has normalised the economic and political sphere(i.e., the public aspect) to be handled and looked after by men and the domestic sphere of household (private sphere) to be thrust upon women.

One implication is that domestic tasks that women have been and are continuing to perform are not counted as economically productive. Even within the household there has been a demarcation of rights and duties, so since the work done by the men are considered as economically viable, they are considered to be the heads of the households. And hence, women along with the children get considered as economically dependent on men.

But the truth that does not get highlighted is that the work usually done by women requires longer hours, continuous stress especially if the women engages herself jointly into the public sphere and household work. Taking for example, the women working in the construction site would be carrying heavy loads of bricks, cement or any raw material but then conclusively gets lesser amount of wages, their labour is never considered as equal to men.

The problem with state programmes is that they talk about health, education, nutrition and try to create an illusion of doing enough for the development efforts and in return of which, women are expected to increase productivity, intensify their labour. But the control of resources, better pay facilities remains largely in the hands of men.

Most of the work done by women never gets included into the costing analysis and hence, is non-marketed. In fact, the vital work a mother performs from nurturing a child to managing the family household and taking care of its members are never taken into account; it remains undervalued and treated as if Mother Nature has naturally disposed off the responsibility only to the women. As a result, most feminist discourse has been about paying the women in household sector equally as to that of men. Like a person working in an office gets paid for the hours he/she dedicates, similarly the debate is supporting the cause of housewives and make their work recognisable including the amount of hours she provides to housework and sacrificing her leisure.

So much so while calculating the GDP of the nation, one of the debates surrounding it is how we can ignore the hard work that women do ranging from feeding the family, sending the kids off to school and also sacrificing their Sundays. While the family rests, the women of the family are seen to be working. It is the women working within the household as a result of which the economy is able to have a strong foundation.

The blame somewhat goes to the new economic policies adopted by the state and structural adjustment programmes; they have privatised most of the industry to make them more efficient and profitable, leading to the shrinkage of the public sector. Now this lead to cuts in the production and maximisation of profits.

A large majority of women are now being employed in the unorganised sector as the latter are focusing more on the cheap and unorganised labour which can be provided more efficiently by the third world countries.

There are several indicators which leads to one thinking, how demanding and challenging work can become for the women counterparts, how extended domestic labour will sooner or later start affecting their health, how a fall in their nutritional levels will make them more susceptible to diseases.


Along with all the problems faced by women, sexual harassment becomes one of the most demeaning. It is something that is rooted in cultural practices and exacerbated by power relations at the workplace.

Almost in all cases of harassment, the women gets blamed for enticing the men around through her clothing or trying to make her way up to the ladder of success by using her sexuality. It’s become kind of a tradition to judge the women’s character when any incident as such occurs.

Even though the implementation of “Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act” 2013 led to the protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of these harassments and for matters connected.

The Act clearly stated that there would be a setup of Internals Complaints Committee who would preside over all the grievances places by the women working in the concerned company. But still there has been cases which showed bias towards dealing the men accused.

A woman employee of NALCO, who accused its chairperson and managing director of molestation was put through a harrowing investigation at the hands of Complaints Committee as reported by The Indian Express, April 23rd2004. It was reported that the Committee insisted on a ‘physical demonstration’ of the molestation and asked her prejudicial question such as whether she had consumed liquor on night of the incident. The High Court found the findings of the Committee,’totally biased’ intending on proving the petitioner as ‘liar.’

On October 5th2017, The New York Times published a series of allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein from women who claimed that they had been sexually harassed them. Since these accusations came to light, a floodgate seems to have opened, with many people coming forward to discuss their experiences of harassments. The hashtag #MeToo, also demonstrated the prevalence of harassment and assault within our culture. After this incident, almost 71 famous personalities fell from their high positions due to their social misconduct towards many of their colleagues, students. The names include, Andrew Kreisberg, Andy Dick, Aziz Ansari, Ben Affleck, Ben Veeren and the list goes on.

Women are getting incorporated into the public and developmental sector without the elimination of the existing gender status quo.

The need for the State to recognise that women come with different requirements and the concern about their health issues like for instance, the fear of not losing their well-earned position when they join their work after their maternity leave, has become increasingly imperative.

When it comes to sanitation and public toilets, for say, a woman working in a good corporate job may not quite feel its importance because of the given good facilities but at the same, a woman working in a rural based government school, working in construction sites, so much so the need was felt by the Women Parliamentarians too, as they would have to go to further places of the country where basic facilities have not been developed. While for the male MPs there would be in-built toilets but none for the female MPs due to the reason because mostly there are few to none women working in political sectors, thus showing the insensitivity towards the needs of the women MPs. Especially this negative impact of sanitation creeps in during menstruation, as a result of which they stop going to work during those span of time. This exacerbates anxiety and stress during menstruation. The public toilets if found, are also maintained very poorly and kept unsanitary.

According to economist Guy Standing, the decade of 1980 is both a decade of ‘labour regularisation’ as well as a period marked by a ‘renewed surge of feminisation of labour activity.’ This is the period in which labour and social rights became received increasingly as costs and duties and growth of very low wage employment.

And when low wage job spreads, then the employment of women is seen to rise. There is an embracing ideology and accepted that women workers were seen as ‘inferior’ as compared to their male co-workers. Most cases, when women are devoid of their jobs it’s usually seen that the job has improved their wages and working conditions and made those spaces open for men.

To summarise, the obtained scale says that, when the wages increases, the jobs get taken out of the women’s hands because apparently, the work done by their male counterparts is seen much valuable and worthy. Women must continue to progress in all fields to ensure they get all their rights in the time to come.