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“I feel that what we miss out on depends a lot on our gender,” says Dr Pallavi Mahajan, who is a dentist and a freelance poet based in New Delhi. Mahajan believes she has compromised on her choice in her profession.
“I was always interested in oral surgery, but was told it demands late-hour shifts which made her look for other alternatives.”
Similarly, she believes she has to dodge many poetry events where shows are set for late nights and require long travels.
“There is always an alertness and conscious choice before giving a green flag for anywhere I go to perform,” she added.
India Discrimination Report 2022, released by Oxfam puts forward the deficiency in female employees’ rate and pay gaps on the basis of gender in both rural and urban settings. It also involves inequality in wages/salary due to caste and religion-based discrimination.
According to the report, gender-based discrimination is the reason for 98% of the employment gap between salaried males and females in urban areas.
Amitabh Kundu, who lead this report believes that the model captures these societal prejudices and the mindset as a part of discrimination.
“In this India Discrimination report 2022, we took the total inequality data and decompose it into two parts: one is on the basis of endowments, levels of skill and education which is not the parameter here and have been taken out. Second is, on the basis of differences in the income, which is due to social identity, which are caste identity, religious identity and gender identity,” said Kundu.
To measure discrimination on the basis of gender from 2004-05, the data is collected from National Survey Office and the latest data for 2019-21, and also for 2018-19. The latest data is a periodic labour force survey from where the comparable figures of employment and earnings are taken.
The magnitude of gender discrimination has been analysed on these factual grounds.
PLFS (Periodic Labour Force Survey) data for the year 2019-20 shows that men have a significant advantage in the labour market in the context of benefitting from their endowments in comparison to that of women. At the aggregative level, 60% of men are engaged in Regular/Salaried.
Employment categories whereas this are merely 19% for women. Gender discrimination emerges as extremely high and significant. It has not changed much overtime. Both rural and urban discrimination are extremely high.
“Now, people might think it is because of employers’ bias only. In fact the model captures discrimination in the totality of the labour market. It is partly because of the employer’s mindset as gender prejudices are strong, particularly in the private sector.” added Kundu.
According to Kundu, family pressure is one of the factors which leads women to withdraw from the labour market. Another reason is the caste factor. Overall, the denial of opportunities for women in employment is because of the totality of social discrimination.
Self-employed males earn 2.5 times more than females, 83% of which is attributed to gender-based discrimination because women do not go as much into entrepreneurship. That’s why there is a gap in men’s and women’s earnings.
Sadhana Pathak, 42, is an entrepreneur from a rural region in Madhya Pradesh’s Tikamgarh, who runs her online saree business.
“I think people often consider my business as a part-time job and never take my work seriously. I believe I have many innovative ideas but I don’t believe I have an equal opportunity to execute them,” she said.
The average earning is INR 15,996 for men and merely INR 6,626 for women — men’s earnings being nearly 2.5 times that of women. The model for the study tries to avoid subjectivity.
“Certain things which cannot be measured with a certain level of confidence, we have not included it. For example, innovativeness, we have no national level data or information on this,” Kundu informed.
These are all perceptional things that women are less innovative, he believes.
Aarti Rajput (28), from Babina in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh works as a farmer and sells milk from her four cattle to a milk-producing company. She is struggling to make a place in her family where she could earn and control her own money. “We are restricted due to Pardah system, domestic chores and other family responsibilities where I find it difficult to step out and earn,” she informed.
While 93% of the gap in earnings between rural self-employed males and females is due to discrimination. Rural Self-employed males also earn twice what females earn in rural areas.
The earning gap in rural areas shows that men have a significant advantage over women in casual jobs, their average earning being INR 7,463 whereas it’s INR 4,604.6 for women. Decomposition results show that discrimination explains 96 per cent of the wage gap in 2019-20. Male casual workers earn INR 3000 per month more than females, 96% of which is due to discrimination.
In the casual employment category, discrimination is not that high, as skills don’t matter there. Both men and women are unskilled. Men get 30% higher wages, partly because of the prejudices that work will be done faster if men are employed. As skills are not a factor, discrimination can come when the qualification is taken into consideration. If this gap is because of capability, we are not able to measure that. “I would certainly think that rural discrimination in the context of gender is less as compared to urban areas.,” argued Kundu.
Women faced less unemployment rates in rural areas compared to urban areas. This can be explained in terms of the larger share of women employed in agriculture and household-based activities where disruption (of work) was relatively less. The percentage of people who reported no work during the reference period was higher for self-employed men than women in the First Pandemic Quarter. Also, it went up much more sharply than that of women, both in rural and urban areas. For the regular-employed, however, the opposite is the case. However, there is no doubt the pandemic had many adverse effects on the domestic lives of women.
The India Discrimination Report do not directly venture into the policy domain. Given the context of the discrimination which emerges from the report, it suggests some measures. First, ensuring the constitutional guarantees of equal opportunities are really implemented in the private and public sectors. Second, there should be more flexibility. For example, if a woman leaves her job for marriage or childbirth and when she comes back there should be better flexibility.
The report suggests the focus on:
What drives Indian women out of jobs? – Maktoob
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