Mar 28, 2005

Women, employment and Indian workforce

Halley Suitt posted about a HBS conference which focussed on the South Asian women's career growth in organizations, at Tom Peters' site.

Interestingly the comments veered to the weird when someone commented : "Amazing the way India and Islamic countries discriminate against women via a caste system. It is their loss to discount/humiliate over 50% of their talent."

Now, normally I would recognize a racist comment and not react without facts, but I commented anyway that:

"Women in India (as elsewhere I suppose) are discriminated , no matter what their caste...
In fact, in the "lower" castes they are more economically active and form a part of the workplace (even though it's unorganized and not taken into account as "corporate workplace")...
remember, in a country like India, more than 80% of the workforce is not organized and work as daily wage laborers, farmers...
So john, saying women are discriminated by the caste system is grossly incorrect. They are discriminated, for their gender, period!"

Then I decided to dig up some data and some interesting facts that a site called Neon Carrot had were:

  • domestic workers in India: 14 million
  • women employed in rural areas: 31 %
  • women employed in cities: 11 %
  • people registered as unemployed with 936 employment exchanges: 41.6 million (beginning '04)
  • employment in the unorganized sector: 91.39 % of work force
  • employed in agriculture: 50 % (2003)
  • India's working age population (15-60 years): 610 million (estimate 2003)
  • growth of India's labour force: 1.9 % per year [BBC Jul 04]
  • growth of job creation between 1994-2000: 1.07 % per annum
  • estimate of wage increase over the next four decades: 800 % (estimate by IMF) [BBC Jul 04]
Hmm, so the news about employment in the organized sector that one hears only affects 8.51% of the workforce !