Women employment in urban areas has seen a decline since 2010, says a recently published report. While the report also mentions an increase in women’s employment in rural areas, the fact that female participation in employment in urban areas has marked a 3.5 percent decline between 2000 and 2017, is alarming. Lack of jobs and self-employment opportunities, and high unemployment among young educated women have been marked as some of the key reasons behind the declining number of urban working women. Moreover, lack of support from family, inadequate child care facilities, insufficient access to tertiary education and early marriage, are discouraging urban women from joining the workforce.
In view of this situation, policymakers and the government must come forward with programmes and policies that would remove employment hurdles for women. Facilitating access to tertiary education, effective skills training programmes, providing child care facilities at work, and easy access to finance are some of the steps that can be taken to address the situation.
The government should also take initiatives to increase women’s participation in job-sectors that have been conventionally male-oriented, such as the armed forces, IT and aviation, by empowering women with leadership roles. Security and professionalism at workplace should also be strengthened so that female workers do not face sexual harassment or violence at work, and they can appear for job interviews without having to worry about their security. The concerned authorities should also make sure that the increasing participation of rural women in the workforce is sustained. For a country that has seen the number of working women increase to 18.6 million in 2016-17 from 16.2 million in 2010, this is highly disconcerting. It is high time the authorities came up with initiatives to bring our urban women back into the workforce.