Why Rural Women Are Falling Out Of India’s Workforce at Faster Rates than Urban Women

The number of women working in rural India is declining at a greater pace than that among women in the urban workforce, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data. Sustained high economic growth since the early 1990s has led to improved education and health indicators among India’s women. Yet, women accounted for no more than 25% of the labour force in 2011-12, declining from 33% in 2005, according to national sample survey report (2014) on employment, a rate worse than neighbouring Bangladesh (29%), Nepal (52%) and Sri Lanka (34%), IndiaSpend reported on May 4, 2017. But this decline is more marked for rural women, according to data from the ministry of statistics and programme implementation’s National Sample Survey (NSS), 2014. The aspirations of rural women, increasingly educated and exposed to paid labour opportunities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme(MGNREGS), have shifted away from unpaid agricultural work on family farms toward more formal, paid work.

       

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