Economic Empowerment of Women in 11th Five year plan

There is increasing recognition that empowering women economically is essential, both to realize women’s rights and to achieve broader development goals such as economic growth, poverty reduction, health, education and welfare. The empowered women contribute more to their family, society and nation. According to International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), a woman is economically empowered when she has both the ability to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions.

Nearly 48% of our population comprises women, so for the growth of the nation we have to be inclusive, we have to ensure their equal right, opportunity, well-being, development, empowerment and participation in economic activities. The 11th plan approaches the economic empowerment of women by ensuring social security and tries to cover the issues of leave, wages, work conditions, pension, housing, childcare, health benefits, maternity benefits, safety and occupational health, and complaints committee for sexual harassment. For agricultural women, there is a plan for ensuring effective and independent land rights for women, and strengthening women’s agricultural capacities.

Although women are decent contributors to our growing economy but double burden of work (unrecognized household work and low pay in recognized work) and some social norms have led to decline in their educational and technical skills, resulting in low work participation rate and men have started migrating from agriculture due to various push and pull factors and this migration has caused an increasing ‘feminization of agriculture’.

In 2004–05, 66.5% rural males were involved in agricultural activities while 83.3 % rural females were involved in agricultural activities. Here we can see the huge gap between rural male and female participation in agricultural sector. After much effort of the government, at the eve of 11th five year plan (2011–12), 74.9 % rural females were in agricultural activities but it was 15.5% higher than rural male participation in agricultural activities.

As far as sectorial distribution of women workforce is concerned, as per Census of India, 2011, 41.1% females (main and marginal workers) are agricultural labourer, 24.8% are cultivators, 5.7% are household industry workers and 29.2% are engaged in other work. A total of 20.5% women were employed in organized sector in 2011 with 18.1% working in public sector and 24.3% working in the private sector. [National Sample Survey Organization 68th Round 2011–12].

With 9.7 lakh employees, manufacturing sector occupies the first place for women employment in organized sector. The second and third places are held by community, social and private services (0.85 million women employees) and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (0.43 million women employees). From 2004–05 to 2011–12, women’s participation in labour force has decreased substantially from 33.3% to 25.3 % in rural areas and from 17.8% to 15.5 % in urban areas, as indicated by NSSO data.

In 2011–12, the average wage/salary received by regular wage/salaried female employees of age 15–59 years was at Rs. 201.56 per day and the rural male was earning 322.289 per day. For urban females it was Rs. 366.15 and for urban males it was at Rs. 469.87 per NSSO data. [NSSO-68th Round].

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