84% women need permission from men to work!

85% of trained women have been trained in sewing, beauty/makeup services, mehendi application and so on, which are gendered areas of work

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While it feels good to see India assuming the G20 presidency for 2023, it remains to be seen how much effort it will put to accelerate women-led development and empower its women. Some statistics from a recent ‘Women and Work: How India fared in 2022’ report by IWWAGE, reveal less encouraging facts.

The report cites some rather disappointing findings of a survey by FSG, wherein 6,600 working-age women were interviewed, from low-income households in 16 cities across 14 states in India.

It is alarming to see that women still have to seek permission from men to go out and take up a job or work. A whopping 84 per cent women identified a male family member without whose permission they cannot decide to go out and work. Only over 30 per cent of women have had some level of vocational training, while a good majority (85 per cent) of the trained women have been trained in gendered areas of work that is, stitching/tailoring (62 per cent), beautician or makeup services (16 per cent), and Mehendi application (7 per cent).

While most women begin working to earn money, they wish to continue working whether they need the money or not. What seems to motivate them, according to a majority (90 per cent) is the fact that they are able to take care of their own and their family’s expenses. For 40 per cent of working women, the ability to pay for their children’s education is the main driving force. Only about 20 per cent of working women admit that they would stop working if they had no financial needs to fulfil. A significant 78 per cent intend to work until their health allows them to or till the age of retirement.

Women have a strong preference for fixed-location jobs, with 72 per cent willing to work from an office and about 52 per cent ready to work from a mall or store. They’d rather avoid jobs that require field work or daily travel. Only about 22 per cent of the women interviewed were keen to take up a job that requires them to go door to door.

While women feel that mothers should take up work outside the house, men do not share the same opinion. About 88 per cent of women feel that women can go out and work even after becoming mothers. About 52 per cent of women believe that mothers of children below six years of age can work outside of their house, about 61 per cent of the key decision-makers, primarily men, believe that women with small kids, below six years of age, should not take up work that requires them to step out.

Interestingly, women are not keen to migrate for a job. A majority (86 per cent) will not migrate even within their own state for a job even if it offers them Rs 12,000 – 15,000 per month.

However, it is heartening to see that one in two women is either working in a job or looking for a job. Only about 15 per cent of women wish to never take up a job. Of these, 29 per cent are above 44 years of age.

An encouraging 64 per cent of women are of the strong belief that work is important to make them self-reliant. About 52 per cent of working women enjoy working, while an overwhelming 90 per cent of working women admit that that working is the right thing to do.

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