Need sectoral approach to raise women numbers in workforce: CII

New Delhi:  A sectoral approach could be a good way to increase the participation of women in the Indian workforce, industry chamber CII said on Sunday, while noting that greater female participation in the workforce would significantly boost the country’s growth as also improve socio-economic conditions.

In the released research paper titled “Declining Female Labour Force Participation in India: Concerns, Causes and Policy Options”, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has examined the sectoral trends of women’s participation in the labour force over the years and has identified manufacturing and services sectors that would attract female workers.

“Greater participation of women in the workforce is a double win-win situation as this would significantly boost India’s growth prospects and also improve socio-economic conditions,” CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement here.

India has experienced a continuous decline, over the last two decades, in its Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR), which stood at only 27.4 per cent in 2015-16, as per data from the Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (2015-16) published by the Labour Bureau.

Analysing data from various rounds of National Sample Survey, the CII report says that the proportion of women in the manufacturing sector is higher than that of men in both rural and urban areas.

“About 29 per cent of urban women are engaged in the sector as compared to 22 per cent of urban men. In rural areas, 9.8 per cent of women are engaged in the sector as compared to 8.1 per cent of men,” a CII statement said.

“Manufacturing sub-sectors with high employment elasticity could be a major employment provider for women. Specifically, employment intensive sub-sectors such as textiles and apparel, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, electronics, etcetera, can offer good opportunities for women,” it added.

According to the industry body, the services sector is a preferred choice for women, especially in urban areas, where 40 per cent of working women are engaged, compared to only 21 per cent of working men.

“Sub-sectors such as beauty and wellness, healthcare, IT and tourism have high potential for employing women as these are projected to grow and create more jobs,” it said.

“Other upcoming sectors of interest for women include construction, communications, and financial services. Policies for boosting these sectors could encourage more women to enter the workforce.”

“A key CII suggestion is to improve the health and nutrition of women through targeted health policies,” Banerjee said.

“Skill training close to place of residence, access to finance, and digital and financial literacy are some of the other important recommendations,” he added.

The report also emphasised the need for encouraging and facilitating women entrepreneurship, improving workplace conditions such as the provision of safe and inexpensive transport, clean washrooms, affordable childcare, equal pay, among others.