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Status of Rural Women in India

On the International Day of Rural Women 2019, we look at the status of Indian Rural Women.

There have been major transformations in the Indian economy during the past three decades and have reached a 5 -9% average growth rate. It is not just the open economy effect that drives this transformation but the rise in access to education for men and women, a decrease in fertility rates, infrastructure development, and improved access to electricity, gas and piped water. One of the positive effects of these changes is that women's time spends on domestic chores have reduced and had created more opportunity for paid work. 81% of the female workforce is from rural India.

Yet, the facts and figures on the status of Rural Women in India reflect a darker narrative. There is a substantial decline in women's work participation rates, low wages for those who engaged in employment, falling urban migration rates and continues increase in violence. Though access to education improves, it is those who are more educated among unemployed rural women. This is mainly because of the unavailability of formal jobs and low wages. And at the same time, there are considerable numbers of withdrawals from distress employment in the rural setting. With an increase in income levels of the households, a woman no longer prefers working as an unpaid worker or a helper or as a casual worker unless the work is remunerative. However, such opportunities are limited in rural India and as a result; women are not finding jobs matching their preference (regular part-time jobs close to their households). Furthermore, with low skill levels, jobs in the non-farm sector are also limited. These factors contribute to the withdrawal of women from the labor force.

On the International Day of Rural Women 2019, we look at the status of Indian Rural Women. This year’s theme, “Rural women and girls building climate resilience "Despite women and girls’ critical contributions to rural communities, rural women lag behind rural men and urban women on almost all global gender and development indicators for which data are available. Women are more likely to die during most climate-related disasters and face greater constraints in accessing natural resources like land and water. What’s more, climate change exacerbates existing inequalities, potentially leaving rural women and girls further behind.

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