The female labour participation rate has come down from 16.4% in May 2016 to 12.7% in January 17, post-demonentisation and it has further declined to to 9.36% in May after the lockdown, he said.
There has been a decline in the participation of women in the country’s labour force and they have suffered disproportionately from the economic shocks caused by demonetisation, GST implementation and the lockdown, Mahesh Vyas, MD and CEO, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) , has said. The female labour participation rate has come down from 16.4% in May 2016 to 12.7% in January 17, post-demonentisation and it has further declined to to 9.36% in May after the lockdown, he said.
Speaking on Friday at the Women@Work conference organised by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune International Centre, India Development Foundation and the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, Vyas said during 2018 and 2019, when there were no economic shocks, the female participation in the labour force had stabilised at 11%, which indicated that economic shocks had a direct impact on female labour participation. The CMIE Consumer Pyramids Household Survey for the September- December 2020 period will show if there is further damage and this report will be out in January 2021, he said.
Women in the age group of 20 to 24 had started to participate in the labour force, but all these gains have been lost because of the lockdown and it will take a couple of years to reverse back to the 2018 level and even more time to get back to 2016, Vyas said.
Women are first to face job losses and the last to recover the lost jobs. Men, however, recover from job losses quickly, Vyas said. It is also more stressful for the urban women, he added. Women suffered 52.4% of the job losses by November 2020 taking a disproportionate hit of the lockdown shock, he said.
Ravinder Kaur, professor of sociology and social anthropology, IIT, Delhi, said there is puzzle of the women missing from the labour force, especially in the 24-44 age group leaving the labour force. A large proportion of married women go missing because of the domestic and care responsibilities, she said. This could also be the income effect where women withdraw from work as household income rises or the status effect where women not working contributes to higher status of family, she said.
This is the marriage and motherhood penalty women pay and withdraw from the labour force after marriage and once they have children, Kaur said. The Covid-19 pandemic is going to be a setback for women and they will lose out on education as well as jobs, she said.