Intersectionality of ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (SDG 5) and Business Responsibilities

Intersectionality of ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (SDG 5) and Business Responsibilities

Chapter 1: Outline challenges with regard to key SDG5 targets from the perspective of responsible business conduct

Introduction

The GoI reporting of key indicators reporting of SDG5 in the SDG India Dashboard include; sex ratio, average wage, crime against women rate, sexual rime against girl child, female labour force participation rate, the proportion of seats won by women at the legislative assembly and operational landholdings by women (NITI Aayog 2019). In the SDG India Dashboard, in the section on SDG1 poverty, there is a mention that only 36.4% of women who were eligible for maternal benefits actually received it. Other than these, there is no more mention of gender inequalities and business responsibility.

The VNR Voluntary National Review (VNR) that was submitted to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2017 reported even fewer SDG5 indicators. Gender equality was measured in the VNR by; the increase in female literacy, increase in women holding an independent bank account, increase in age at marriage and enhanced body mass index from 2005 to 2015. The VNR report mentions certain government programmes initiated to address these inequalities such as; Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana, increase in households using clean fuel and having sanitation, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and the initiatives taken to increase access to employment, improve FLFP and to strengthen social protection and security (VNR 2017).

While most of these indicators give valuable information on the status of gender inequality in India, it lacks dwelling into several other important manifestations of gender bias from the perspective of responsible business conduct. This policy brief aims to fill up the gap overlooked by these reports and furthermore looks at the intersectional inequalities of such core indicators. The intersectional approach will reveal interlocked layers of gender-based marginalisation in the context of business and the private sector.

Women as Paid Workers

Women’s participation in labour force (all ages) in India is merely 17.5 percent as compared to 55.5 percent of males (PLFS 2017-18). (LFPR includes those who are not working, but seeking/available for work) The work force participation rate (includes only paid workers of all ages) is 52.1% for males and 16.5% for females. Most women in worker force are self-employed[1] as helpers in household enterprise (31.7%), followed by workers as casual labour (27.0%) (PLFS 2017-18).

Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap for regular wage/salaried employees was higher in rural than in urban areas.

In rural areas, among regular wage/salaried employees in current weekly status, earnings ranged from Rs 13 to 14 thousand among males and it was around Rs. 8.5 to 10 thousand among females during July – June 2018. In urban areas, among regular wage/salaried employees in current weekly status, earnings ranged from Rs. 17 to 18 thousand among males and from Rs. 14 to 15 thousand among females during July – June 2018 (PLFS 2019).

Among casual labourers, the gender wage is higher in urban areas than rural areas.

Among casual labourers in rural areas, the average wage earnings per day by males engaged in works other than public works ranged between Rs. 253 to Rs. 282 and nearly Rs. 166 to Rs. 179 among females during July – June 2018. In urban areas, average wage earnings per day by casual labour engaged in works other than public works ranged between Rs. 314 to Rs. 335 among males and nearly Rs. 186 to Rs. 201 among females during this period (PLFS 2017-18).

Gender Gap in Hours of work and Double Burden of Domestic Work

In rural areas, in a week, a worker in the CWS (current weekly status) actually worked on an average of nearly 48 hours during July 2017 to June 2018 and in urban areas they worked for 56 hours, in a week, during this period.

Men worked on an average of 10 more hours per week as compared to women (50.0 & 40.8 hours male-female) in rural areas and similarly in urban areas men worked about 10 hours more than women (58.1 and 47.7 hours male-female work). But this doesn’t take into account women’s engagement in domestic duties. There are no systematic data on hours spent by women on domestic work.

Employment Benefits

One of the initiatives taken by the Government of India to increase women’s participation in the workforce was to provide maternal benefits provide 26 weeks’ paid leave to working women who are pregnant under the Maternity Benefit Bill. The objective of this policy was to empower women and provide them with legal and constitutional safeguards. However, according to the NFHS-4 data, only 36.4 per cent of the eligible beneficiaries receive social protection benefits under maternity benefits. The national target is full coverage by 2030 but no State or UT has achieved this target, as yet. Among the states, Odisha has the highest coverage with 72.6 per cent of eligible beneficiaries receiving maternity benefits.

Of the total women in regular wage and salary, 51.8% were not eligible for any salary social security benefit. Comparatively lesser men (49.0%) were working under such conditions. Of the total women in regular wage and salary, 66.8% had no written contract. More men (72.3%) were working without a written contract. Of the total women in regular wage and salary, half (50.4%) were not eligible for paid leave. Even more men (55.2%) were working without a paid leave provision.

Women as unskilled workers

Women in the workforce comprise largely of unskilled labour as compared to men. Among those employed, in the age group 15 to 59 years, 69.8% of the males have received formal vocational/technical training as compared to only 38% women. Among those women not in the workforce, 51.5% have received formal vocational/technical training as compared to 16.4% men. Most women who have received some kind of formal training are not in the workforce.

Women workforce by Religion/Caste

Work Participation Rate in usual status (ps+ss) was highest for Christianity (35.8 per cent) followed by Hindus (35.5), Sikhism (33.7) and lowest among Islam (28.9 per cent). Sikh women are least likely to be in the workforce as compared to male Sikhs. The gender gap in workforce participation is highest in Sikhism (43.6), followed by Islam (39.5), Hindus (34.9). The gender gap is least among Christians (31.4) (PLFS 2017-18).

The higher the caste, the greater is the workforce participation rate. Among the Scheduled Tribe, 53.4% of the males and 25.9% females are in the workforce, comparatively the least gender gap of 27.5. The gap increases with Scheduled Caste (35.1), OBC (35.2) and others (39.1) (PLFS 2017-18).

Women Workers in Broad Industrial Categories Among rural women workers, most women workers are employed in agriculture[2] (73.2%) followed by other services[3] (8.9%), manufacturing[4] (8.1%), construction[5] (5.3%) and others. A closer look at women’s involvement in the manufacturing sector reveals that they are working mainly in the ….

Among urban women workers, most women (44.4%) are employed in the other service, followed by manufacturing (25.2%), trade, hotel & restaurant (13.0%) and agriculture (9.1%) (PLFS 2017-18).

Women Workers by Occupational Division

In terms of occupational, rural women workers are majorly involved in; skilled agriculture and fisheries (47.1%), followed by elementary occupation (32.6%). Urban women workers are largely spread out in Elementary Occupations[6] (21.9%), followed by Craft and Related Trades Worker[7] (16.7%), Skilled Agricultural and Fisheries[8] (15.3%), Professionals[9] (13.1%), Technical and Associate Professionals[10] (11.7%), 

Picking from the top three industrial categories that women are involved in both in urban and rural areas, this policy brief looks at the intersectionalities of gender inequalities in the following Sectors; Agricultural and Fisheries, Other services and Manufacturing. In terms of occupational division, the policy brief will examine largely; Skilled Agricultural and Fisheries Workers, Elementary Occupations, Craft Related Trade Workers, and additionally Professionals and Technicians and Associate Professionals with specific relevance to women’s work involved in urban areas. These Sectors and Divisions include both formal and informal work.

  • What is this household enterprise?

In which industry are these workers (women and men) employed…

AGRICULTURE

Women as Farmers

In 2017-18, in rural areas, about 55 per cent of the male workers and 73.2 per cent of the female workers usual status (ps+ss[11]) were engaged in the agricultural sector (PLFS 2019).

Women landowners

Neither the PLFS nor the Census provides data on landholding. The IHDS data shows that in 2011-12, in rural India, of the landowning households, only 6.5% of the women were landowners as compared to 42.7% of men.

Data Dearth

There’s acute unavailability of data on actual ownership of assets in India; especially women’s ownership over land, livestock and housing. The Census of India collects data on land and asset ownership and indebtedness, only at the household level. The only closest gender disaggregation of data that the Census collects is; the sex of the head of the household. This data is of no use for knowing women’s land and asset ownership.

Women on Construction

The proportions of male and female workers in rural areas engaged in the ‘construction’ sector were 14.5 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.  The proportions of male and female workers in rural areas engaged in the ‘manufacturing’ sector were 7.7 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively.

  • Wage difference between men and women..
  • Difference in the hours of work between men and women..
  • Double burden
  • How many women are engaged in domestic duties as compared to men?
  • Women as farmers
  • Women as fisherwomen

This manifestation of gender bias and inequality in India begins before birth. The sex ratio at birth is abysmally lower than normal. The sex ratio at birth was 896 females per 1000 boys when the normal sex ratio at birth of 952 or more girls born per 1000 boys (Warade et al., 2014). The estimated number of missing girls at birth was 0.58 million girls annually during the period 2001-2006, and 0.33 million girls missing annually during 2007-12 (SRS 2001-13). This bias continues through her life course in the form of higher child mortality, lower education, higher rates crime against girl child experience of spousal violence

NIITI Aayog reporting of SDG5

The NITI Aayog published SDG India, Dashboard lists several indicators under gender equality; sex ratio at birth, Female/male ratio of the average wage, rates of crime against women, the proportion of sexual rime against girl child, female labour force participation rate, the proportion of seats won by women at the legislative assembly and operational landholdings by women.

The report talks about the strengthening of gender-disaggregated data systems, acute data

The sector that women are primarily involved in include;

Women as Farmers

A majority of women in rural areas are engaged in the agricultural labour force in the country, and yet a very less proportion of them are farm landowners.

According to the PLFS data, during 2017-18, in rural areas, about 55 per cent of the total male workers in usual status (ps+ss) and 73.2 per cent of the female workers were engaged in the agricultural sector (PLFS 2019).

According to OXFAM 2018, the agriculture sector employs 80% of all economically active women in India, they comprise 33% of the agriculture labour force and 48% of the self-employed farmers.

Women Land Owners

IHDS data shows that in 2011-12, in rural India, of the landowning households, only 6.5% of the women were landowners compared to 42.7% men. The central region shows the highest gender gap with a 40 percentage point difference in ownership incidence between men and women. According to the Agriculture Census, the percentage share of women landholders was 12.79 per cent in 2010-11 and increased to 13.96 per cent in 2015-16 (Agricultural Census 2015-16).

Data Difference and Lacuna

There’s acute unavailability of data on actual ownership of assets in India; especially women’s ownership over land, livestock and housing. The Census of India collects data on land and asset ownership and indebtedness, only at the household level. The only closest gender disaggregation of data that the Census collects is; the sex of the head of the household. This data is of no use for knowing women’s land and asset ownership.

IHDS,

The incidence of land ownership in rural India reveals a vast gender gap.

In spite of their large contribution women continue to remain invisible in the rural economy of India.

Reference:

Agriculture Census 2015-16. Agriculture Census Division, Department of Agriculture, Co-operation & Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India 2019.

PLFS 2019. Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, National Statistical Office, Government of India: New Delhi.

VNR 2017. ‘Voluntary National Review Report (VNR) on the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Government of India: New Delhi.

Economic Survey 2018-19 Volume 2. Government of India Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, Economic Division: New Delhi.

NITI Aaayog 2019. SDG India: Index and Dashboard


[1] Self-employed includes own account workers, employers and helper in the household enterprise.

[2] The agricultural sector also includes forestry and fishing; Div 1) crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities, Div 2) Forestry and logging, Div 3) Fishing and Aquaculture.

[3] Section I to U; I – Accommodation and food service activities; Section J: Information and communication; Section K: Financial and insurance activities; Section L: Real estate activities; Section M: Professional, scientific and technical activities; Section N: Administrative and support service activities; Section O: Public administration and defence; compulsory social security; Section P: Education; Section Q: Human health and social work activities; Section R: Arts, entertainment and recreation; Section S: Other service activities; Section T: Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods and services-producing activities of households for own use; Section U: Activities of extraterritorial organizations and bodies:

[4] Section C: Manufacturing; Division 10: Manufacture of food products Division 11: Manufacture of beverages Division 12: Manufacture of tobacco products Division 13: Manufacture of textiles Division 14: Manufacture of wearing apparel Division 15: Manufacture of leather and related products Division 16: Manufacture of wood and products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials Division 17: Manufacture of paper and paper products Division 18: Printing and reproduction of recorded media Division 19: Manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products Division 20: Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products Division 21: Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products Division 22: Manufacture of rubber and plastics products Division 23: Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products Division 24: Manufacture of basic metals Division 25: Manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment Division 26: Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products Division 27: Manufacture of electrical equipment Division 28: Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c. Division 29: Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers Division 30: Manufacture of other transport equipment Division 31: Manufacture of furniture Division 32: Other manufacturing Division 33: Repair and installation of machinery and equipment

[5] Section F: Construction; Division 41: Construction of buildings Division 42: Civil engineering Division 43: Specialized construction activities

[6] Division 9: Elementary Occupations –  91 Sales and Service Elementary Occupations;  92 Agricultural, Fishery and Related Labourers;  93 Labourers in Mining, Construction, Manufacturing and Transport.

[7] Division 7: Craft and Related Trades Workers – 71 Extraction and Building Trades Workers; 72 Metal, Machinery and Related Trades Workers;  73 Precision, Handicraft, Printing and Related Trades Workers; 74 Other Craft and Related Trades Workers.

[8] Division 6: Skilled Agricultural and Fishery Workers –  61 Market Oriented Skilled Agricultural and Fishery Workers; 62 Subsistence Agricultural and Fishery Workers.

[9]  Division 2: Professionals – 21 Physical, Mathematical and Engineering Science Professionals; 22 Life Science and Health Professionals; 23 Teaching Professionals; 24 Other Professionals.

[10]  Division 3: Technicians and Associate Professionals – 31 Physical and Engineering Science Associate Professionals;  32 Life Science and Health Associate Professionals;  33 Teaching Associate Professionals; 34 Other Associate Professionals.

[11] The workforce in the usual status (ps+ss) is obtained by considering the usual principal status and the subsidiary status together. The workforce in the usual status (ps+ss) includes (a) the persons who worked for a relatively long part of the 365 days preceding the date of the survey and (b) the persons from among the remaining population who had worked at least for 30 days during the reference period of 365 days preceding the date of the survey.

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