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Gender gap in youth labour market: 'Bias' in hiring, beliefs precede domestic duties

By Alisha Ralph, Akarsh Arora* 

Although India has made significant advancements toward achieving gender equality, there is still an enduring disparity between genders when it comes to employment opportunities for youth. The youth population for males and females is almost the same (nearly 26%) still there is a significant difference in their participation in the labour force.
Young women face multiple barriers to accessing employment, including discrimination, cultural attitudes, and lack of education and skills. The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship focuses on the promotion of skill development among women and their inclusion in the process to address the issue.

Gender gap explained

The Periodic Labour Force Survey 2021-22 reveals that the labour force participation rate for young men (aged 15-29 years) in India is 61.2%, compared to only 21.7% for young women. Likewise, while the workforce participation rate for men stands at 53.5%, the corresponding rate for women is just 19.1%.
This indicates that young women encounter significant obstacles in obtaining employment, including discrimination in hiring, inadequate availability of education and training opportunities, and cultural beliefs that prioritize their domestic duties over paid work. Almost half of the female youth are involved in domestic duties (45.1%), whereas among males, it is less than one percent (exactly 0.5%).
For vocational and technical training, males receive twice as much training as females, with 20% of males receiving training compared to only 10% of females. Similarly, males receive twice as much technical education as females, with 6% of males receiving education compared to only 3% of females.

Challenges faced by young women

Young women in India face a number of difficulties, including a lack of skills that prevents them from obtaining highly skilled and well-paying employment. Despite equal educational attainment among young men and women, female labour force participation is still much lower than that of males. This is partly because males continue to hold the majority of high-paying positions.
Another difficulty is the underrepresentation of women in self-employment, with only 12.1% of women participating compared to 25% of men. This is due to a number of factors, including restricted access to finance and commercial networks. Given that entrepreneurship plays a significant role in driving innovation and job development, the underrepresentation of women in this industry may be impeding their ability to grow.

Opportunities for promoting gender parity

Despite challenges, there are ways to close the gender gap in young people's employment. In the workplace, achieving gender parity results in more supportive and inclusive policies and procedures. This can involve putting policies like equal pay for equal labour and flexible work schedules into place.
The gender wage gap can be closed by fostering an environment at work that is more welcoming and inclusive for women, especially those who choose to work for themselves. Furthermore, efforts like mentorship programmes, skill-building and training programmes, and programmes for women entrepreneurs can help achieve gender parity by giving young women the tools and support they need to thrive in their chosen professions.
These programmes can assist women in overcoming some of the obstacles they encounter, such as limited access to capital or networks of business contacts, and can help them succeed as business owners or in professions that have historically been dominated by men.
In conclusion, young women in India continue to face numerous obstacles to finding job, contributing to the country's considerable gender disparity in youth employment. A multifaceted strategy will be needed to address these issues, including investments in education and skill development as well as laws and procedures that support gender equality in the workplace.
India can develop a more inclusive and equitable labour market for its young women and realise the full potential of its workforce with the appropriate investments and policies.
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*Alisha Ralph is Research Scholar, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida; Akarsh Arora is Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida

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