Women’s labour force participation has declined from 37% in 2006 to 18% in 2019
Azad Foundation, a non-profit organization, working since 2008 to provide livelihoods with dignity for resource-poor women in urban areas across India; having trained 2000+ women of whom 1000+ are working as commercial chauffeurs on roads of Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata appealed on the occasion of ‘Women’s Day’ to the Honourable Prime Minister & Minister of Women and Child Development, to create gender sensitive infrastructure to enable increased work participation of women. The declining women’s labour force participation (From 37% in 2006- 18% in 2019), gender pay gap (23%), high rates of informal work (93%) with lack of social security are seen as impediments to the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women in India.
World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2020) ranks India at a low of 149 out of 153 countries on economic participation and opportunity but it also estimates that raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP by 27%.
Azad Foundation believes that infrastructure and norms play a crucial role in impeding women’s entry and sustenance in the workforce today. According to Ms. Meenu Vadera, Founder and Executive Director, Azad Foundation “We appeal to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Minister of Women and Child Development for their attention and positive action towards creating gender sensitive infrastructure. We have learnt through our experience on the ground, the critical role of gender sensitive infrastructure in reducing the burden of unpaid care work, enabling access to public spaces all of which increase participation of women in the workforce. To facilitate the same, we appeal for the following interventions”
Infrastructure and Quality Public Services that reduce the burden of care work
- Full time creches for children- Allocation of Full Time quality crèches for children upto 12 years near homes and workplaces. This will ensure that all working mothers can leave their children in a safe environment.
- 2. More affordable and safe working women hostels– Needed especially for women from under privileged communities. Increasingly young talented women are looking for employment opportunities that require traveling long distances. Women migrants need safe and affordable working women hostels that can also encourage many more families to let the young women take on careers and be independent.
- Safe and accessible women’s shelter homes-Every third woman, since the age of 15, has faced domestic violence of various forms in the country (National Family Health Survey 4).For women to be able to work, quick, efficient and reliable support is required to address violence they face in their homes. An important support in this is to have safe and accessible women’s shelter homes
- Ensure basic public provisions like piped waterat household level- to reduce the time taken by women to fill water for the household.
Increasing access in public paces
- Safe, hygienic and functional washroomsthat are accessible from the road- at petrol pumps ,local shopping areas and bus stops
- Safe Public Transport-A comprehensive public transport policy that ensures safety for all by promoting more women in public transport as drivers, conductors etc
The letter of appeal has been submitted to, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
Azad foundation has been working to enable women to access decent and dignified livelihood opportunities through its work on Non-Traditional Livelihoods that challenge the gendered division of labour. Azad joins its voice to initiatives in Delhi to ensure more participatory and inclusive city planning. It cites precedents like the gender sensitive infrastructural plan of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to highlight the connection between Gender Inclusive Infrastructure and Inclusive Economic Growth.