BENGALURU: At 28, after five years of enjoying her ‘passion’ - content writing, Sadiya.K, was faced with an ultimatum at the office. “Work or child. You choose,” her boss told her. “Without a second thought, I walked out,” says Sadiya, who is now the mother of a four-month-old baby girl.
Although modern India has given women the freedom to learn and earn, the age-old gender-discriminatory slant hasn’t really given them a chance to make their choices. The recent findings of the International Labour Organisation indicate that this is particularly true of a country like India.
According to the ILO data, 10 per cent of working women in India have stopped participating in the labour force. This drop is the highest for any country between the years 2005 and 2015.
Commenting on the decline, Rituparna Chakraborty, president of Indian Staffing Federation, said various circumstantial changes often led to the drop in the number of working women.
She said, “Often, women are not encouraged to work post-marriage and despite being qualified, they choose not to work. Additional reasons like relocation, distance and traffic change their decisions about working. There are other factors too like lack of child-care facilities near the office, cost impediments and other related circumstances.”
While the IT city has some interesting policies for working mothers, the ground reality is very different, she adds.
“Now, many organizations have realized it’s crucial to introduce women-friendly policies, especially for working mothers. Although many firms have more awareness about this issue now, the impression among women hasn’t changed, as it takes a lot of time to make an impact. Since the norms of a number of organizations are not gender diverse, women still can’t believe they can leave their kids behind or can wrap up work within scheduled hours. Which is why the participation from working moms has been dwindling,” Rituparna explains.
Interestingly, the rise of nuclear families in India adds more responsibilities to young women, which further discourages them to go back to work after marriage or childbirth, she says. "Not all get a robust support system," she shares.
While urban women are staying away from jobs, there’s a new development. A study by a private organization says that rural women are entering the labour force in far larger numbers than urban women.
Reacting to this, Rituparna says, “There is a sharper drop in labour force participation rate (LFPR) among urban women. The LFPR of women in India is 25.5%, of which rural women constitute 30.02% and urban women, 15.44%.”
While there is no Bengaluru-centric data or survey to tell whether the number of working women have increased or decreased in the last decade, Rituparna does say that Bengaluru offers tech-oriented services and that the work culture here is a lot better compared to other cities in India....