It is no secret that women form a significant part of the Indian population and that they are woefully underrepresented in most areas, especially in the workforce. Women constitute approximately 49% percent of the population, yet they only represent 20% of the total workforce. Historically, women have been underrepresented, and underutilized and this has had a significant impact on the economy.
The Way Forward
The pandemic has thrown a whole array of challenges to the economy, and several sectors have noticed a significant skill gap among the workforce (both men and women). Over the past couple of years, more women have opted for upskilling and cross-skilling, however, the gap is still large. Skill-based employment is the need of the hour and a significant increase in skilled, employed women can create a generation shift to the overall economy.
The Shackles of Social Structures
According to studies, women in India spend close to 25% of their time engaged in household and domestic work while men spend less than 3% of their time in the same category. This is largely due to the social and domestic structures that have been historically placed on women. While these social mores are difficult to change, a concentrated effort must be made to unshackle women from these rigid structures.
Increased Representation Across Sectors
In India, the highest representation of women is seen in the agricultural and rural industries as well as the service industries. However, women are grossly underrepresented in the manufacturing, automotive, and infrastructure sectors.
For example, women constitute approximately only 12% of the total workforce in the manufacturing sector and less than 10% in the automotive industry. In sectors such as oil and gas, the percentage of women in the workforce is even lower with women accounting for only 7% of the workforce.
All inclusivity efforts must take a skill-based approach. Such an approach would include offering better quality and accessible skilling programs across these sectors.
Skilling Through CSR- The Sustainable Solution
While government-mandated programs such as “Skill India” can create meaningful change by providing skilling opportunities to women, especially in marginalized communities, they have to be run in parallel with the Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) initiatives of private organizations.
Investment in skilling women also makes business sense as these women are more likely to enter the workforce and have stable and longer careers. Moreover, organizations can also choose to concentrate on skill development in their specific sectors and areas of operation. In turn, such efforts will create a greater pool of local candidates to choose from and lead to sustainable change in the economy in the long run.
Investment in skilling women through CSR creates a win-win situation for the employers and the workforce. Apart from the strategic and opportunity cost benefits, organizations also have an ethical responsibility to the future workforce of India.