Editorial Simplified: The Missing Women | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III

Theme of the Article

The number of young women who are not in education, employment and training in India is very high.

Why has this Issue Cropped up?

India’s employment generation in the last five years has remained weak. 64 per 1,000 persons appear to be unemployed in the working age group of 15-59. The problem of unemployment has become more acute for youth and women.

Women’s Economic Situation

  • Sustainable Development Goal 8 (Target 8.6) mentions that by 2020 there should be a substantial reduction in the proportion of youth in the category of ‘Not in Education, Employment and Training’.
  • As per ILO estimates, 27.5% in India are in this category, of which 8% are men and 49.3% are women.
  • The narratives on the missing half of the female population vary. One is that the majority of women work under the category of “housewives”.
  • Unfortunately, in India’s economy, neither their contribution nor their presence gets counted in the GDP.
  • Another is that women have a low enrolment rate in secondary and higher education.

Way Forward

  • To date, most discussions on this subject get stuck on questions of unemployment and labour force participation. Only if the causes and consequences of not being in education, employment and training are understood will affirmative actions follow.
  • For example, to promote girls’ education, the major schemes which function at the pan-India level are Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. While the efficacy of these schemes is a matter of debate, it is the focus on recognising the contributions of the youth, particularly the younger cohort of women, that matters from a policy perspective.
  • If the problem is thus analysed correctly and appropriate policy actions are taken, this could pave the way for genuine progress towards Sustainable Development Goals.