Present Indian Labour Landscape: Tracking Gender Divide, Inequality

Explore the harsh reality of India's labour market through a women-centric lens. Dive into the State of Working India 2023 report's findings, revealing gender disparities, stereotypes, and the impact of domestic violence on women's employment.

Oshi Saxena
New Update

The State of Working India 2023 report's findings reveal gender disparities, stereotypes, and the impact of domestic violence on women's employment. (Representative Image)

In the backdrop of India's economic evolution, where fields once ploughed now make way for office towers, one might expect prosperity to reach every corner of society. But a sobering revelation in the 'State of Working India 2023' report by Azim Premji University reminds us otherwise.


It lays bare a disheartening truth: India's economic progress hasn't translated into an equitable labour market. This profound report not only scrutinises India's economic trajectory but also unearths entrenched inequalities, with a focus on the challenges faced by women.

The Gender Predicament: Stereotypes, Wage Disparities, and Discrimination

Of paramount concern is the gender-based inequality plaguing India's labour landscape. Despite some progress since 2017, women continue to earn a mere 76% of what their male counterparts do.

The situation worsens for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) women, who earn a meagre 54% of what 'upper' caste women receive. Even as female employment rates have risen, the dark shadow of stereotypes and discrimination still looms large, hindering women's earning potential.

 Gender Norms: Hindrances to Women's Employment

Gender norms, particularly the archaic "male breadwinner" model, persistently obstruct women's access to employment opportunities. The report underscores a disheartening reality: women are more likely to work when their husbands earn above a certain threshold. This dependency on male incomes, hovering around Rs 40,000 per month, reveals the deeply ingrained gender biases that continue to thwart women's economic independence.


 Marriage Dynamics: A Complex Web

Post-marriage dynamics further complicate matters. The report reveals a stark contrast: married women living with non-employed mothers-in-law are less likely to be employed, while those with employed mothers-in-law enjoy higher employment rates. This intricate web of societal norms and family dynamics underscores the multifaceted challenges women face in their quest for workforce participation.

A Startling Revelation: Domestic Violence and Women's Employment

Curiously, the report uncovers an unsettling correlation between women's employment and domestic violence. In regions with higher incidents of domestic violence, women are paradoxically more likely to be employed. This enigmatic connection suggests that challenging traditional gender roles can provoke a backlash, with working women becoming targets of increased partner abuse. It serves as a stark reminder that the journey towards gender equality can be fraught with perilous obstacles.

Regional Disparities and the Peril of Unemployment

The report doesn't stop at gender inequalities; it also highlights regional disparities in women's employment rates. Muslim women, in particular, face a dire situation with a dismal Workforce Population Rate (WPR) of a mere 16.3% in 2020. These numbers reflect the harsh realities of limited mobility, restricted opportunities, and the looming spectre of gender, caste, and religious discrimination perpetuated by employers.


Despite India's economic growth, the link between prosperity and job creation remains fragile. The report demonstrates that policies aimed at fueling economic growth often fail to translate into more employment opportunities. The pandemic has further exacerbated the issue, leading to a surge in distressed employment. The unemployment rate, while showing a decline, remains a looming concern, especially for graduates under 25, where it skyrockets to a staggering 42%. This alarming statistic underscores the persistent influence of caste, gender, and religion in dictating access to employment opportunities and workforce participation.

The 'State of Working India 2023' report casts a harsh light on India's labour market. Despite economic strides, inequalities based on caste, religion, and gender endure. Achieving a more equitable labour market necessitates a multifaceted approach that dismantles societal norms and structures perpetuating these disparities. It's a call to action for policymakers, businesses, and society at large to forge meaningful change.

Suggested reading: Bridging Digital Gender Divide For Equal Educational Development

gender divide State of Working India