India, the world’s fastest growing economy, could grow to over ten per cent if there were more women in the workforce.
According to a new report released by the World Bank, India is amongst the lowest countries for female labour participation rates in the world. India currently ranks 120th out of 131 countries, for which data is available.
The World Bank found that just 27 per cent of Indian women are working or actively looking for a job.
The report goes on to suggest that the low level of women in the workforce is not what is expected for the country’s level of income and the attitudes of surrounding countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
The report gives a number of reasons for the lack of women in the Indian workforce including a greater number of women staying in education and a large drop out due to lack of opportunities.
Frederico Gil Sander, senior country economist at World Bank said, “India’s female labour force participation rate is uniquely low for all levels of education.”
“Sixty-five per cent of Indian women with college degrees are not working, whereas in Bangladesh 41 per cent and in Indonesia and Brazil only 25 per cent of women graduates are not working.”
“Concerns about women’s safety are strong and often genuine while flexibility, availability of childcare and adequate pay are important given social norms that require women to reconcile work with household duties.”
“One reason why women participation in the workforce has come down is because a larger number of younger women are opting to stay in schools.”