(ORF: India Matters)
Jan 4: Trickle-down Wage: Analysing Indian inequality from a gender lens
- GS-1: Society (Women’s Issues)
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Trickle-down Wage: Analysing Indian inequality from a gender lens
In News: The pandemic has exposed and fed off the profound socio-economic inequalities of the existing world. Gender-based discrimination, being an important dimension of socio-economic inequality has had adverse economic outcomes for women in these unprecedented times.
- Women are 10 percent more likely to be living in extreme poverty in India by 2021 in comparison to men cites the UN Women Report of 2020.
- The pandemic has disrupted an already skewed ratio in educational opportunities, access to finance, wage disparities, and other social constraints for them demographically.
Gender inequalities and shares in labour income
Gender inequality is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality in the world and as a result, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far from gender neutral.
- India’s numbers here stand at a grim 18 percent and are amongst the lowest in Asia’s average at 27 percent, ahead of only Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of which fall under 10 percent.
- World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report of 2021 places India amongst countries with the largest Gender Gaps in Economic participation and opportunity due to an observed declining trend from 27 percent in 2010 to 22 percent in 2020 in Female Labour Force Participation.
- Azim Premji’s State of Working India Report 2021-
- During the lockdown and months after, while 61 percent of men remained employed and only 7 percent lost employment, only 19 percent women remained employed and a vast 47 percent suffered a permanent job loss.
- The imposition of lockdowns, has affected the feminised sectors, such as the care economy and the gig economy, much more severely than the sectors in which men are over represented.
- The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 describes the concept of ‘Labour Market scarring’ in which temporary limitation of in-person work has caused permanent and long-lasting effects on women’s chances at decent employment in future.
- According to the Inequality Report 2022,
- While women represent about 50 percent of the population, they earn only about one-third of the labour income for it.
- Those who do step into the workforce are often offered work in the informal sector, which categorically provides no protection of labour laws, or social benefits like pension, paid sick leave, maternity leave.
- Informal sector rarely provides any resilience against market fluctuations; this makes them more vulnerable and keeps them in poverty and altogether wary of potentially entering the workforce.
- While men moved to the informal workforce during lack of better opportunities, women quit the workforce altogether due to increased burden of the household and an acute lack of safety nets.
Gaps and the road to recovery
- Through various practices, be it discriminatory policies and social structures, lack of access to lucrative jobs and labour market or the double bind of performing both paid and unpaid labour, women have only been earning a third of the labour they have promise for.
- Without adequate focus on policy change, India faces a threat of leaving behind a half of its population in this road to recovery, not to mention bear the brunt of inequalities even further.
- We need to revisit the labour distribution in our country and rethink formal and informal structures at a policy level.
- There is a need to enhance the social security mechanisms for informal workers with a special focus on women.
- Upskilling women for ‘hard professions’ and adopting a ‘care lens’ is hence essential for defeminising care work and would contribute to redistributing it equally amongst family members irrespective of their gender.
- It is also important to create gender sensitive fiscal policies and educate the masses about the criticality of rising inequalities and formulate a framework of labour laws to sustain in the neoliberal world.
Can you answer the following questions?
- As women bear the brunt of the rising income inequality, the need for a positive policy change has become even more pronounced. Discuss.