The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the employment of women in India primarily because female labour in India forms a major part of the informal sector, and some of the most vulnerable sectors such as healthcare and education. The nation-wide lockdown imposed in India on 25 March 2020 exacerbated the already high unemployment rate amongst women in both urban and rural regions. This week’s Chart of the Week presents quarterly data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, to depict the gender disparity in labour force participation rate and unemployment rate in India before and after the lockdown period.
- 10 percent of women in rural and urban India participate in the labour force, as opposed to approximately 70 percent of men in rural and urban areas.
- Post lock-down, the labour force participation rate for women in rural areas fell from 11 percent to 9 percent while the labour force participation rate for women in urban areas fell from 10 percent to 8 percent.
- The unemployment rate for urban women, which stood at a massive 24 percent, further increased to 28 percent after the lockdown. This demonstrates that not only do a small number of women form a part of the urban labour force, but almost a quarter of those who do participate are unable to find suitable jobs.
- The unemployment rate for rural women was much lower than that for urban women both pre- and post-lockdown. However, there has been a precipitous rise in the unemployment rate for rural women from around 14 percent to 23 percent.