The fact that India could add $770 billion to its GDP by 2025 by closing the gender gap in labour, as per an estimate by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), speaks volumes about the unrealised potential of the country’s women.
The fact that India could add $770 billion to its GDP by 2025 by closing the gender gap in labour, as per an estimate by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), speaks volumes about the unrealised potential of the country’s women. While there are many factors behind why the gap exists, social expectations from Indian women overwhelmingly pegs them in child-rearing and home-making roles—these constitute most of the unpaid work that women in India do. The MGI report highlights two particular findings of the World Values Survey—63% of Indian respondents believed that university education is more important for a boy rather than a girl, the highest proportion among countries participating in the survey. Similarly, 70% of Indian respondents believed that if the mother goes out for paid work, her children suffer. If such social attitudes are dispelled by encouraging women to be part of the paid workforce, India will grow not only socially, but also economically, as the MGI report shows.
While 43% of graduates from tertiary education institutes are women, they account for only 25% of the entry-level job-holders and a mere 4% of the senior management positions. This gap needs urgent addressing. Given women’s child-bearing/rearing role, promotion of flexible work modes, providing childcare facilities at the workplace, etc, are some measures that can address low participation in the workforce. Men also need to take up an equal share of domestic chores. The gains from increasing women’s participation in the labour force are undoubtedly phenomenal—in the Asia-Pacific region, advancing gender equality could add $4.5 trillion to the region’s collective GDP by 2025, a 12% increase over the business-as-usual trajectory, the MGI study shows. The government and the private sector both would do well to make efforts to realise gender parity in employment in India.