“Economic equity is enormous empowerment of women. Having jobs that provide income means that women can be a more effective force, a more equal force, in the political process. Women with income take themselves more seriously, and they are taken more seriously”. – Betty Friedan
Economic inclusion is a process of improving the terms of participation in the economy for people who are disadvantaged on the basis of age, sex, disability, race, religion, ethnicity, and their status through opportunities and access to resources.
It’s a well-known fact that gender equality and diversity in workforce boosts productivity, which further leads to the economic growth of the country. But economic inclusion often evades women.
Women’s choices are suppressed, and many constraints are imposed on their participation in the economy, which results in their economic exclusion.
Globally, women’s labor force participation is 49% compared to 76% for men, which calls for refinement in economic and social dimensions of each country to remove generalization, as all countries suffer some loss of human development due to gender inequality.
India’s female labor force participation rate is among the lowest in the world at 26% and has declined significantly over the last two decades.
1. Social Norms
Patriarchy plays a vital role in depriving women of their equal economic rights. Women in India are traditionally taught to be financially dependent, and independence acts as a threat to male dominance. Restrictions are imposed on them at an early stage of education itself. Which ultimately leads to no professional or job-based skills.
Women eventually lose their enthusiasm for participating in the workforce.
2. Gender Wage Gap
In India, women are paid 34% less than men on an average.
This discrimination discourages women from participating in economic activities. The gender wage gap causes a sense of inferiority.
As women have to struggle between paid work and unpaid work (family chores), the wage gap disparity does not award them with the status they deserve. Because of which, they are often forced to choose between workforce participation and unpaid work.
3. Poverty And Illiteracy
Poverty plays a huge role in economic inclusion.
Poverty at first stage snatches the educational rights from women, because of which they are unable to fulfill even basic job requirements in future. Only 65.46% are provided with primary education in India.
Poverty also forces women to do work, which offers merely food only enough to stay alive. This kind of employment is not a fair inclusion of women in the economy; instead, it takes a toll on their health.
Illiteracy leads to economic exclusion as well as social exclusion, which consequently widens the length and breadth of gender discrimination.
Empowering women ensures social progress and mobility. Equal footing with men in the economy helps women in practicing their social rights too.
Women who practice their right in the economy regardless of their caste, family background, religion, race, and other aspects are financially independent and do not depend on someone else for their survival. This independence drives acknowledgement of freedom to explore further opportunities and develop personally while contributing to the sustainable development of the country.
“Women with income take themselves more seriously and they are taken more seriously.” – Betty Friedan
Economic inclusion gives access to resources, enhancing opportunities, voice, and respect for the rights to women, who are generally intersected with different forms of socio-economic inequality. Social inclusion is the key to development.
Participation of women in the labor force also promotes employment of more women at different hierarchical levels of the company/organization. As the participation of women in the workforce increases, they work more productively, and unpaid work like child care and household chores are divided, which slaughters the gender roles prevailing in the society.
Social inclusion is a crucial element for the development of a country as social integration breaks the myopic vision of an all-male society. Financial independence removes the restriction of following gender norms. But still, India lags in integrating women in social and economic activities.
Labor workforce participation role for women in 2017 was 28.5% compared to 82% for men. A survey suggests that increasing women’s labor force participation by 10 percentage points can add $770 billion to India’s GDP by 2015.
This economic inclusion can make a significant impact on the gender pay gap and social equality. In 2011, out of the 11.7 million working women (in urban areas), only 43% were given regular wages and salary.
This leads to partial integration instead of complete integration.
Women constitute of 48.5% of the population of India; it makes social inclusion pivotal for a developed society. Absolute social inclusion would accelerate the practice and awareness of women’s rights and would also help to eradicate barriers like illiteracy, gender discrimination and more.
Social inclusion holds the capacity of bringing a huge change in the country and its position across the world.
Even Cargo scales up innovation and uses the power of spreading awareness and training to achieve women’s equal rights in the economy. Even Cargo works towards the growth of women in the labor force by training women who do not practice their right to economic inclusion.
Being India’s first women-only delivery personnel service, Even Cargo trains women in dimensions to attain their socio-economic rights.
Women who are employed as delivery girls at Even Cargo are trained in riding two-wheelers by Honda and are also given training in self-defense and soft skills. Not only this, but Even Cargo also helps women in developing relevant skills required for them to work in the logistics sector through a logistic-specific training. Negative social norms and economic barriers that prevent women from fully exploiting their potential are eradicated by Even Cargo.
Women who are involved in this process and work at Even cargo have seen a 100% increase in their annual household income which not only benefits their (women’s) position in society but also contributes to the sustainable development of the economy.
The contribution of Even Cargo also brings attention to the need for social inclusion of women by making them self-supporting.
Even Cargo works on the barriers like illiteracy, poverty, and the gender wage gap and is also fighting against social norms as they all emerge as a major reason for economic exclusion.
As women work in the informal sector with low wages and no social protection, Indian government and governments across the world are working towards the economic inclusion of women.
An ICRW publication stated, “Economically empowering women is essential both to realize women’s right and to achieve broader development goals of economic growth.”
According to The Beijing platform for action,“There is a need to promote women’s economic independence ensuring equal access to resources for all the women .
India, with a low rate of women participation in the workforce, has launched several schemes to encourage women and provide them economical as well as social inclusion.
Some of the schemes are:
This includes wage laborers, unpaid workers, and family below the poverty line.
And many other schemes are being launched for women to reap the benefits of prosperity and enjoy socio-economic rights.
Various steps are being taken to break the blocked women capacity to enjoy economic inclusion.
We can say that myopic vision for economic inclusion is broken, and the involvement of women is also in the list now. But the world has miles to go to achieve gender equality in the economy.