Role of Women in the Workforce: A Promising Future5 minute
We often hear people say that a woman’s first responsibility is to take care of her house and family. However, is that her only role in society? Is she not allowed to dream and fulfil her aspirations? Well, no matter how modern the thinking of society gets, there is still a large gap in workforce participation between men and women. There are several barriers that contribute to this disparity. Some of them include discrimination, tax distortions, and other social and cultural factors.
The role of women in the workforce should no longer be a choice but a necessity. The advantages of employing women as part of a company workforce are manifold. They not just become financially independent but also have greater control over their lives. This also enables women and their families to enjoy a greater quality of living due to additional income. Owing to the expenditures today, it is difficult for one member to be the sole breadwinner of the family. When the woman of the house contributes, the standard of living improves and children too get access to quality education.
Beyond the benefits at a micro level, the participation of women in the workforce is also good for the overall economy since more job opportunities are created.
If an organisation doesn’t realise the importance of women in their workplace, they are missing out. Having a women-centric team not just doubles the talent pool but also improves the company’s performance. Here are a few statistics:
- According to a McKinsey report, companies with gender-diverse teams are more likely to perform on profitability and value creation than those with less-diverse teams.
- Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women, financially outperform companies that have a low representation of women on board.
- Women bring new skills to the workplace which results in improved productivity and growth gains. Closing the gender gap could increase GDP by an average of 35 percent.
Barriers that Prevent Women from Joining the Workforce
Despite there being so much talk around allowing women to work, they are still left for jobs in the informal sector that are devoid of any rules and regulations. This further creates greater room for exploitation and discrimination. There is an active need to make non-traditional jobs in various sectors welcoming for women.
Female employees are not just limited to work in healthcare, retail or domestic sectors. The notion that certain industries are only fit for men has to change. The goal should be to make women employable across a gamut of sectors including driving, vehicle repair, construction and other industries.
We have highlighted few challenges below that are preventing women from working:
- Owing to the patriarchal culture in India, parents or the husband are the main decision-makers when it comes to their children or wife respectively. They often decide what is right for them.
- Women face lack of support systems at every stage. Since most work systems do not provide the flexibility that is critical to a woman, they often miss out on growth opportunities or are forced to leave their job halfway owing to reasons such as childcare.
- Though women are keen to join the workforce, there are still few organisations where there is a lack of women-friendly employee policies. Long working hours, unfavorable shift timings, and workplace harassment are few reasons why women refrain from taking up jobs in certain sectors.
The need of the hour today is to create an equitable workforce. It’s important for NGOs and various women-centric organisations to build awareness about the job roles and opportunities that await women in various industries. The woman of the house can be an active contributor towards the family income. The problem is not the lack of resources but instead deep-rooted social and behavioural norms that still exist.
Inspiring Stories of Women Achievers who defied Stereotypes & Joined India’s Workforce
Coming from extremely impoverished conditions, Jamana could have taken up any profession but she decided to make her mark in a male-dominated field. Based out of Indore, Jamana is a vehicle mechanic.
Despite the backlash she faced at home, she was determined to step out and earn a better living for her family, mainly her daughter. Her husband works as a painter and told her that working as a mechanic would be difficult. She decided to give it a shot and joined an NGO where she gained proficiency in engine work and two-wheeler servicing.
Though she was married off at the age of 19 and studied only till class X, nothing stopped her from achieving her dreams.
Mehrunnisha Shaukat Ali
How often do you come across a female bouncer at a nightclub? Rarely, right? That’s because it’s etched in our minds that only men can be bouncers. However, Mehru-Nisha defied all stereotypes and went on to become a bouncer at a nightclub in New Delhi.
Throughout her life, she faced a lot of challenges because she was a woman and a Muslim who chose to be a bouncer.
As a child, Mehru always dreamt of becoming a police officer or soldier. When that dream did not materialise, she felt that becoming a bouncer would be ideal. Despite giving several exams and joining the National Cadet Corps, her father was still against her working. He even set her new uniform on fire.
However, since she was physically fit, she eventually decided to join a nightclub and fulfill her dreams.
Shubhangi Yuvraj Mandare
Shubhangi is an officer in the Mumbai Fire Brigade. She is among the dozen firewomen hired by the department.
Growing up in Pune, joining the fire department is something Shubhangi hadn’t imagined. No one in her family belonged to the police or army. When she saw a recruitment ad in the newspaper, she decided to give it a shot as this was the first time they were hiring women officers.
Thereon, she travelled to Mumbai and made it through. From directly firefighting to managing resources, Shubhangi is the woman in charge during most disasters.
Though her family is extremely proud of her, they even get nervous for her safety. Her next goal is to become the head of the department which until now has only been headed by her male counterparts.
Born into a low-caste family in Indore, Anita’s fate was sealed the minute she was born. She was educated till class X and married off to a daily-wage laborer at the age of 16 years. She became a victim of alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
A few years later, she ventured out of her home and registered with an NGO which trains women to make them financially independent.
After eight months of vigorous training, Anita became a professional car driver. People often told her to pursue parlour work or tailoring. However, her plans were different. She wanted to travel everywhere, hear different stories and meet different kinds of people.
Today, she gets paid close to 10,000 a month as a personal driver. She can even change tyres and fix engine issues.
After becoming financially independent, Anita left her abusive husband and started life afresh with her children by her side.
Women in the workforce help in building an inspiring work culture and bringing about healthy competition. If more companies and organisations employ women, they will not just grow to their full potential but will also be catalysts in creating a promising future.