Women Contribute Only 18% To India's GDP: How Can We Bridge The Gap?

A recent National Family Health Survey report showed that women's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is only 18% despite making up almost half of the country's population.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
women contribution to gdp. Image:  REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Image: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

A recent National Family Health Survey report revealed striking data about women's contribution to the economy and the gender disparity in the workforce. Although women make up almost half of the country's population, their contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is only 18%. The report states that bridging the gender gap in the workforce can make a remarkable difference to the country's economy, with at least 30% more growth. 


These statistics open critical conversations about women's participation in the workforce and the barriers that are keeping them from being active contributors to the country's economy. 

Barriers For Women In Economic Contribution

The gender gap in economic contribution and labour participation continues to be a burning issue worldwide. In 2023, women made up 53% of the employable population, yet studies revealed that they made up less than 25% of the Indian workforce. The NFHS report showed that women's contribution to the GDP is only 18%, revealing a striking gender disparity in the workforce.

A 2023 study by the McKinsey Institute revealed that expanding women's participation in the workforce could mean a $28 trillion expansion in the global economy. For India, this could mean a $770 billion boost by 2025. However, there are significant barriers that women face in occupational opportunities that pose a threat to tapping that potential.

According to gender pay gap statistics, women, on average, earn less than men across various sectors, contributing to the economic disparity. Studies have shown that women earn merely a third of global labour income and own less than 15% of agricultural landholders globally.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report further states that globally, women encounter barriers with 65% facing challenges accessing formal banking due to sociocultural hurdles, a higher percentage compared to men. Additionally, an International Labour Organization (ILO) report showed that 88% of women working in industries operate in the informal sector and 7% of women employed in services also belong to the informal workforce.  

A PwC UK's Women in Work 2024 report highlights that it would take over 50 years to achieve gender pay equity if these issues are treated in a business-as-usual way. There is a serious need to expedite the closing of the gender gap and this requires active efforts to address the root causes.

These root causes include educational gaps, societal disparities, healthcare (including menstrual, maternity, and childcare) issues, and access to financial assistance. "Women's issues are central to every global issue," Elizabeth Allen, the United States Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs told SheThePeople in a recent interview, highlighting how empowering women in the economy and healthcare can drive holistic growth in the economy of the entire world. 

National Family Health Survey women's participation in the workforce global economy indian workforce