July 25, 2024

Unlocking Potential: How India’s Women Hold the Key to Economic Supremacy

With an eye on surpassing China as an economic powerhouse, India faces a pivotal challenge: unlocking the potential of its female workforce. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in his third term, India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy by the decade’s end. However, achieving this ambitious goal is hampered by social and structural barriers that keep women, who make up a significant portion of the population, out of the workforce.

India boasts over 460 million working-age women, more than the entire population of the European Union. Despite their increasing educational attainment and aspirations, many women like Gunasri Tamilselvan, a 22-year-old engineering graduate, struggle against cultural norms and workplace biases. Employment of women in India remains staggeringly low, with only one-third of eligible women participating, compared to a global average of 50%. This underutilization contributes significantly to India’s economic underperformance; the World Bank suggests that equal female participation could accelerate India’s growth to 9% annually.

The Modi administration has made some headway, with India climbing to the world’s fifth-largest economy. Yet, women’s contribution to the GDP stands at a mere 18%, starkly lower than in China, where women have been integral to the country’s economic rise. The current economic strategy includes enhancing women’s role in the labor market, which is crucial as Western companies seek to diversify their supply chains from China amidst geopolitical tensions.

Moreover, initiatives in Tamil Nadu exemplify progressive steps toward this goal. Companies like Foxconn and Tata are actively hiring women, with the latter’s new solar cell factory employing 80% female staff. These efforts are supported by state policies providing safer, more accommodating work environments for women, highlighting a move towards a more inclusive and decentralized economic model.

Key Takeaways:

  1. India’s economic ambition is hindered by its underutilization of women in the workforce.
  2. Cultural norms and structural challenges persist, despite higher education and aspirations among women.
  3. Equal employment of women could significantly boost India’s economic growth rate.
  4. Government and private sector initiatives are beginning to address these challenges, aiming to make India a favorable alternative to China for global manufacturers.

Conclusion: For India to achieve its goal of economic superpower status, it is essential to harness the potential of its entire workforce, especially women. The government and corporate India are laying the groundwork for a more inclusive economy. Continued focus on empowering women will not only help India reach its economic targets but also set a global example of gender parity in the workforce.

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