The female labour force participation rate has gone down from 49.7 per cent in 2004-05 to 26.7 per cent in 2015-16 in rural areas, according to a new NITI Aayog report, which termed the drop a "worrying trend". This was stated in the National Strategy for New India report unveiled by the NITI Aayog on Wednesday.
The strategy is a detailed exposition across 41 crucial areas, including gender issues, and suggests ways of achieving objectives for 2022-23 in these areas. The report said the objective is to enhance the female labour force participation rate (LFPR) to at least 30 per cent by 2022-23 which in 2015-16 was recorded at 26.7 per cent.
It said a declining LFPR despite "increasing levels of education and declining fertility rates has emerged as a worrying trend".
The current female LFPR is 23.7 per cent, 26.7 per cent in rural areas and 16.2 per cent in urban areas. The declining trend is particularly strong in rural areas, where it has gone down from 49.7 per cent in 2004-05 to 26.7 per cent in 2015-16, it said.
The report said at the all India level, women are confined mainly to the large informal sector.
"It is estimated that if women did as much formal work as men, India would experience an additional 1.4 per cent GDP growth. On an average, 66 per cent of the women's work in India is unpaid, compared to 12 per cent of men," it said.
It also listed the constraints such as distance workplace from home, inflexibility in working hours and lack of availability of creches.
The report said a lack of safety can also deter women from participating in economic activities.
"The absence of opportunities for part-time work and challenges surrounding re-entry into the workforce further worsens the situation and women's work comprises mostly of invisible or unpaid work," the report said, listing out other constraints.
It said there is a need to ensure gender-sensitive thinking for legislation and policies keeping in view the challenges faced by women in different life stages.
The stage includes single women, married women, young mothers and women re-entering the workforce after a break, the report said.
The other recommendations include strengthening of legal frameworks to eliminate discrimination against women and promote gender equity.
Generating gender-disaggregated data and rank states on key indicators, encouraging women's participation in industry and enterprise, improving asset ownership and economic security and security and safety for all women were among other recommendations.
(With inputs from agencies.)