Women's workforce participation and access to decent work are integral components of an inclusive and sustainable development process. Unfortunately, women from marginalized communities in India continue to grapple with numerous obstacles when it comes to entering the job market and securing quality employment. These challenges encompass access to employment, working conditions, wage parity, discrimination, and the juggling act of work and family responsibilities. The informal economy also disproportionately houses women, making them susceptible to exploitation with limited formal protections.
Keeping these challenges in mind, it is imperative for policymakers to adopt a holistic approach to enhance job market outcomes for women in India. This approach should include improving education and training programmes, skills development, access to childcare, maternity protection, and the provision of safe and accessible transportation, all while promoting growth patterns that create job opportunities.
India has long grappled with a persistently low Female Labor Force Participation Rate (FLFPR), with the decline starting around the turn of the millennium. Although there have been some recent improvements, data from the Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS July 2021 - June 2022) indicates that India's female LFPR remains stagnant. In 2021-22, only 29.4% of women aged 15-59 were part of India's labour force, compared to 29.8% in the preceding year. In stark contrast, men's LFPR increased from 80.1% in 2020-21 to 80.7% in 2021-22.
Efforts to harness the full potential of women in the Indian workforce would yield a substantial return on initial investments made by the government and businesses. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, India could achieve an 18% increase in GDP (USD 770 billion) by 2025 if it successfully promotes women's participation in the workforce.
Conservative societal norms in India often prioritize women's roles within the family, leading many to leave their jobs, particularly after marriage or childbirth. The expectation of fulfilling domestic responsibilities and caregiving roles can significantly hinder women's labor force participation. Additionally, restrictions imposed by families and society reinforce these challenges.
To empower women in India's workforce, several initiatives are crucial, including financial support for women entrepreneurs, improved access to education and training, gender equality promotion, safety and security measures, increased job opportunities, better work policies, and affordable childcare. Creating an inclusive environment that empowers women is paramount for India's growth trajectory. It requires continual efforts to challenge stereotypes and encourage female workforce entry.
Magic Bus India Foundation is actively addressing these challenges and working to improve women's workforce participation rates. More than 31% of our Livelihood Centres are dedicated to all-girls livelihood skilling programmes. The Livelihood programme boasts a gender split of 56% female participants.
The story of Mantasha, a young girl from Mumbai, is a testament to the power of skilling programmes like Magic Bus India Foundation’s Livelihood Programme. She hailed from a marginalised community where girls face numerous restrictions and societal pressures. Mantasha's parents, like many others in her community, planned to get her married as soon as she turned 18. While this prospect devastated her, it also ignited a renewed determination within her. She realized that if she wanted to change her family's mindset and secure a better future, she needed financial independence.
After completing the Magic Bus Livelihood Programme, Mantasha's life took a remarkable turn. She not only gained essential life and employability skills but also the confidence to pursue her dreams. She soon secured a job at Beyond Enough, a significant achievement for her and her family.
Mantasha proudly declared, "My family is so proud of me as I am the first and only female earning in my family. I can confidently converse with my colleagues and customers in English, which I thought I would never be able to do. I feel empowered and independent. Without this programme, I would have never been able to achieve my dreams of supporting my family financially and standing on my own feet."
Magic Bus India Foundation's Livelihood Programme focuses on empowering young women to confidently enter the workforce and claim their space in the public sphere. The Livelihood Programme equips participants with essential life and employability skills such as Spoken English, Teamwork, Leadership, Communication, Financial and Digital Literacy, Career Management, Self-Awareness, and Problem-Solving. By imparting these skills, Magic Bus India Foundation is helping women overcome barriers and contribute to India's economic growth. By providing young women with the skills and confidence they need to enter the workforce, Magic Bus aims to contribute to India's economic growth while challenging societal norms and fostering gender equality.
In the development sector, organizations like Magic Bus India Foundation are instrumental in catalysing change and bringing balance to the gender workforce. The development sector holds a huge responsibility in transforming statistics, rewriting narratives, challenging societal norms, and fostering gender equality. It's undeniable that empowering women in the workforce is not only economically but also morally vital to build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all. At Magic Bus, we recognise that when women rise, societies thrive, and we believe that's a vision worth pursuing with unwavering commitment and dedication.
Explore the impact of Magic Bus India Foundation's Livelihood Programmes by clicking here.
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