NEW DELHI: Rural India appears to be under a grip of de-feminisation, with not less than 22 million women quitting the rural workforce during 2004-12 and the trend seeing no reversal, says a NITI Aayog report. NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, in the report he co-authored with agricultural economist SK Srivastava and NITI Aayog consultant Jaspal Singh, argued that education isn’t proving benign to women. The report also stated that “employment diversification towards non-farm sector was biased against women”.
According to the report, though de-feminisation was reported highest in agricultural households, non-farm households too witnessed the trend. “This is a puzzle as to why women of labour households, whose economic conditions aren’t very good, chose to withdraw from workforce and stay back in households,” it said.
Contrary to conventionally held views, the report states that one-third of the women withdrew from the workforce because of their enrolment in education. “Other reasons leading to reduction in women participation in the workforce could be manufacturing jobs away from the place of habitation discouraging females to go for it; lack of skill to get well-paid non-farm jobs; and rising tension between labour and employer in agriculture due to changing social relationships between them,” the report further explained de-feminisation.
The report captures the disturbing trend of women confining to domestic activities only. “It’s interesting to note that education accounted for one-third reduction in female workforce, while a large part of them confined themselves to household activities as evident in the increase in share of not-in-labour-force population,” the report stated.
The report said that out of 33 million workers who left agriculture (2004-05 to 2012-12), 27 million (81 per cent) were women and six million (19 per cent) were men. “Out of the 27 million female workers who left agriculture, only five million joined non-farm sectors and the rest withdrew from labour force itself. On the other hand, the entire six million male workers who left agriculture joined non-farm sectors,” it explained.