Is India’s post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan Excluding Women?

Slowly but surely, things are returning back to “normal”, well, as normal as can be during a global pandemic, and the fact that the economy is opening up is good news for all those looking for work. Let’s be honest, countless people lost their jobs this year, and to say this year has been anything less than tough is quite an understatement. Although jobs are returning as part of India’s post-COVID recovery plan, the truth is, for whom? From rural to urban areas, an Indian economics professor is revealing that women are being left out of the post-COVID workforce more than ever before.

Women with young children are struggling the most in terms of employment

Ashwini Deshpande, professor of Economics at Ashoka University analyzed data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and found that women were 9.5 percentage points less likely to be hired than men as compared to before the pandemic. Also, women who had no children had the best return to work rate than those with girls, particularly very young children. Therefore, women with young children have been hit the hardest due to COVID. On the other hand, men have not been affected as badly as working women, ”pre- and post-lockdowns, men with very young children remained the most likely to be employed. When the lockdown first hit in April 2020, their employment rates saw the biggest decline, … But their employment rates have recovered since.’

Working from home finally brought to the forefront the number of hours women spend doing unpaid work

Also, highly educated women also fared a little better and did not face a drastic drop in employment after April 2020, however, their employment rate was definitely affected. “This is likely to be both due to supply-side factors, i.e. due to an increase in hours spent on household work as well as due to the specific nature of recovery,” added Deshpande in her paper. Working from home finally brought to the forefront the number of hours women spend doing unpaid work, whether they are employed in paid work or not. Although many men have contributed to unpaid work at home, there are countless who still need to step up in order to share the load. While the rest of the world did face their own share of gendered work issues in this post-COVID era, like the US and the UK for example, they were not lagging behind in terms of participation of women in the workforce.

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