• Recently, the Union Minister for Labour and Employment has said that India is making collective efforts to reduce gender gaps in labour force participation.
  • He was delivering the Ministerial Address on Declaration and Employment Working Group Priorities at G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting.


  • It is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
  • Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.

Important points:

  • The Employment Working Group deliberated upon key issues, including women employment, social security and remote working.
  • In 2014, G20 Leaders pledged in Brisbane to reduce the gap in labour force participation rates between men and women by 25% by 2025, with the aim of bringing 100 million women into the labour market, increasing global and inclusive growth, and reducing poverty and inequality.
  • Women can now work even during night hours and the duration of paid maternity leave has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  • G20 Roadmap Towards and Beyond the Brisbane Target:
  • This has been developed for achieving equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men in the labour markets as well as societies in general.

The G20 Roadmap Towards and Beyond the Brisbane Target has been set as:

  1. Increasing the quantity and quality of women’s employment.
  2. Ensuring equal opportunities and achieving better outcomes in the labour market.
  3. Promoting a more even distribution of women and men across sectors and occupations.
  4. Tackling the gender pay gap.
  5. Promoting a more balanced distribution of paid and unpaid work between women and men.
  6. Addressing discrimination and gender stereotypes in the labour market.

Labour Force Participation

  • The labor force participation rate indicates the percentage of all people of working age who are employed or are actively seeking work.
  • India continues to struggle to provide its women with equal opportunity.
  • In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, female labor force participation in India was 23.5%, according to ILO estimates.
  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2018-19, the female labour force participation rates (LFPR) among women aged above 15 years are as low as 26.4% in rural areas and 20.4% in urban areas in India.

Constraints in Female Labor Force Participation

  • India’s societal norms are such that women are expected to take the responsibility of family care and childcare. This stereotype is a critical barrier to women’s labor force participation.
  • Due to this, women are in constant conflict over-allotment of time for work and life is a war of attrition for them.
  • In India in 2019, internet users were 67% male and 33% female, and this gap is even bigger in rural areas.
  • This divide can become a barrier for women to access critical education, health, and financial services, or to achieve success in activities or sectors that are becoming more digitized.
  • Women hold most of the administrative and data-processing roles that artificial intelligence and other technologies threaten to usurp.
  • As routine jobs become automated, the pressure on women will intensify and they will experience higher unemployment rates.
  • Globally, major gaps in gendered data and the lack of trend data make it hard to monitor progress.
  • In India, too, significant gaps in data on the girl child prevent a systematic longitudinal assessment of the lives of girls.
  • Owing to Covid-19, global female employment is 19% more at risk than male employment (ILO estimates).

Way Forward

  • Work opportunities for women are restricted to a few sectors. Policies are needed to promote access to employment across the spectrum of sectors and occupations, investments in diversified sectors and upgrade to high-end activities, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas along with infrastructural support like transport, housing, sanitation facilities, lights and so on.
  • Encouraging female entrepreneurship can promote a broader dynamic economy, elevate the economic role of women, and therefore distribute the benefits of growth more equitably.


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