Indian Constitution in 1950 officially granted women and men suffrage. Unlike in the West, Indian women participated in voting, ran for public offices and political parties. Women have held posts as President, Prime Minister in India as well as Chief Ministers of various states. Indian voters have elected women to various State Legislative Assemblies and National Parliament for many decades. Women are trying to find solutions to major issues like violence against women and children, sexual violence, discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy etc. Today, economic independence has added to their confidence.
More women in India must join the workforce. Today only 25% of Indian women are employed according to the World Bank’s 2017 India Development Report. India ranked 120 among 131 countries on Female Workforce participation. As per the Report of the Consulting Firm of Deloitte on the subject of ‘Empowering Girls and Women in India’ women in labour force fell from 36.7% in 2006 to 25% in 2018.
Though India is a democratic nation with good legal reforms that support women, the participation of women in the economy and society is not doing well. Whether in the Corporate sector, entrepreneurship or political leadership women are lagging behind men.
What challenges do women face? What holds them back from participating in the workforce? Motherhood, gender bias, unequal pay, security, mental and physical harassment, lack of proper family support, insufficient maternity leave are some of the major issues and challenges that working women face today.
Child Care Issues
Balancing work and motherhood are not always easy but it can be beyond fulfilling to have the best of both the worlds. The concept of work life - balance for working mothers is a challenge. Women have to get used to their “New Normal,” as working mothers.
Many women drop out of the workforce after their first child. The main problem is inadequate Child Care facilities. A recent survey has shown that 90% of working women thought of quitting their jobs because of child care issues. Workplaces are not supportive or geared to allow working mothers more freedom and flexibility. When Dr. Kalpana, a Hematopathologist reported late for work as her son was bleeding due to a fall in the staircase, her boss remarked that she was more concerned about her children than her career! A recent survey of ‘Times Job’ found 90% of women but only 10% of men thought of quitting their jobs because of child care issues.
Domestic & Care Work
The bulk of domestic work is done by the mother. And it is unpaid. Women do household work for 353 minutes daily as per OECD data. They are forced to stay at home. Women themselves are confused about their role. Even if a woman is working she has to shoulder full responsibility of her home. Many husbands are ill equipped with basic life skills like cooking or managing a home. Hence they contribute very little in home management. Very often they cannot leave their office early enough to attend to house hold chores, take care of the children and attend to their own personal needs. Despite women’s contributions including financial, they are often told they are selfish in wanting to work and they are not doing enough for the home and family!
Issues with Children
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