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Gender parity will propel nation’s progress

Gender parity will propel nation’s progress
Highlights

Gender inequality at workplace is great a concern for Indian corporate houses. Even after decades of progress toward making women equal partners with men in the economy and society, the gap between them remains large. 

Key findings of a study
* Sikkim (29.9) secured 1st rank, followed by Telangana (28.5) with 2ndrank, where as Andhra Pradesh (24) got 6th rank.

* Telangana tops in creating more employment opportunities and improve working conditions for women in factories and other sectors than Andhra Pradesh.

* Four states such as Sikkim, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu have removed all restrictions on women working at night in factories, retail and the IT sector.

* In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, these restrictions were removed as a result of court judgement.

* Maharashtra missed a perfect score; it only allows women to work until10 pm in retail establishments.

* Among the States, nine states and Union Territories do not formally allow women to work at night in any sector.

* Fifteen States and Union Territories did not offer women entrepreneurs any special incentives in their business –promotion policies.

* Delhi ranked last in low justice and work participation scores, it continued formal restrictions on women working at night in a wide range of sectors, it did not provide any incentives to female entrepreneurs in its industrial policies.

Gender inequality at workplace is great a concern for Indian corporate houses. Even after decades of progress toward making women equal partners with men in the economy and society, the gap between them remains large.

The gender parity in economic outcomes such as participation in the workforce or presence in leadership positions is not necessarily a normative ideal, as it involves human beings making personal choices about the lives they lead; but it is to recognise that men can be disadvantaged relative to women in some instances.

However, it is believed that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women, according to a new study by Centre for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

In a development that could create more employment opportunities and improve working conditions for women in factories and other sectors, a number of states such as Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have amended the Factories Act to allow women to work in night shifts.

The study has found that many Indian states lack a lot in many parameters providing working environment for women. But surprisingly, the tiny north-eastern state of Sikkim is the breakthrough state for women in the workplace that has high rates of female workforce participation, lack of restrictions on women’s working hours and high conviction rates for workforce crimes against women, while Delhi is lagging at the bottom of the list. The study also reveals that most states are far away from implementing safely working conditions.
The Amendment of Factories Act, 1948, will help improve work conditions for women and provide them more benefits in sectors like IT, hospitality, health and other sectors where employment opportunities exist for women. As a result, the percentage of educated women is increasing, and there is need for more employment opportunities for them, the study stated.

With a workforce that is only 24 per cent female, India has one of the world’s lowest rates of female workforce participation. This is a serious drag on growth.

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that India could add 16 percentage points to its GDP in 10 years if women participated in the workforce at the same rate as men. But many states have laws limiting women’s working hours and Indian women face harassment in the workplace and while commuting. However, for India to achieve this target is a pipe dream.

The amended Act also allow establishments with up to 20 employees under the purview of the amended Factories Act and allow them to maximise production by employing women in the night shifts. The Act also allows employees to get paid leave after working for 90 days instead of the earlier 240 days or more. The overtime limit will also be increased from 75 hours to 115 hours without management’s permission.

The study ranked the states according to four main factors; legal restrictions on women’s working hours in factories, retail, and the IT industry; the responsiveness of the State’s criminal justice system to crimes affecting working women, such as sexual harassment; the number of women workers in the state as percentage of total workers; and the number of incentives the state’s start-up and industrial policies offer women entrepreneurs, with a maximum score of 40.

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