India indulged in some sober celebrations to acknowledge women’s growing participation in economic processes when one September morning last year it woke to front page fliers that corporate giant, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), had become the top employer of women at 1 lakh.
A little before this, in July last year, a report published by aid group Oxfam made it known that India ranks 19 among Group of 20 (G20) economies when it comes to women’s participation in the workforce. The twentieth in this list was Saudi Arabia, the country which does not allow its women to get behind the wheels.
The TCS-type recruitment news gives us a reason to believe that women’s participation in the workforce is growing substantially. But there are the Oxfam reports, and the UN and World Economic Forum (WEF) statistics that would have us believe otherwise. According to UN gender statistics, women’s participation in the workforce in India fell from 33.7 per cent in 2002 to 27 per cent in 2012.
In the WEF Gender Gap Report 2014, India ranks 114 out of 142 countries. This makes India not just a bad performer among all the nations across the world but the worst performer among BRICS nations as well. The other BRICS nations are positioned way above India with South Africa at 18 leading the bunch. Then comes Brazil at 71, then Russia at 75, and China at 87.
WEF Gender Report ‘aims to understand whether countries are distributing their resources and opportunities equitably between women and men, irrespective of their overall income levels.’
These figures should keep us on our toes, not just to dance to the news of mass female requirements in one company, but to work towards preventing the other decline. The recruitment of women may have risen to over a lakh, but TCS management did express concern about retaining female workforce in the mid-level and top-level circuits. According to reports, 40 per cent of TCS female employees are either new recruits or at junior level whereas just 11 per cent are at senior levels.
International Women’s Day has by and large converted into a festival at the mass level. The day is spent wishing ‘Happy Women’s Day’. Not that everyone is expected to participate in technicalities of the UN conferences orgnaised to mark this day, but on a more layman level, IWD must be observed as the beginning of a new year. A list of resolutions for personal contribution towards women empowerment would make the day more meaningful in the official and every sense of it.
While women will have to make resolutions like that of coming out of their comfort zones of ‘why should I work when I can get everything without having to do anything?’, men and families would do well to resolve to inculcate a mindset which does not make them and the men look small if women share men’s roles of financial providers.
Budget allocations and all the noise about it will just be that, noise, if each one of us, in our own capacities, does not stand up and speak out towards all aspects of gender inclusion.
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