By Blassy Boben and Rupam Jain
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Indian government introduced a bill to reserve a third of seats in the lower house of parliament and state assemblies for women, raising hopes in a nation with a female workforce of about 25%, the lowest among emerging economies.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), doubling the percentage of women in the workforce could boost India’s growth rate from 7.5% to 9% and raise the country’s GDP to $700 billion by 2025.
Here’s a look at women’s participation in the Indian workforce:
India has had one woman prime minister and two female presidents since independence in 1947. Fifteen women have served as chief ministers so far.
The percentage of women lawmakers elected to parliament stood at 14.94% for the lower house, 14.05% for the upper house, and about 10% of state legislatures.
Around 1.4 million of India’s 3.1 million village body representatives are women.
India’s Supreme Court has not had a single female chief justice so far. As of August 2023, there were three women judges in the apex court of a sanctioned strength of 34, 106 women judges out of 788 in the 25 high courts and 7,199 in the lower courts.
DEFENCE AND POLICE
As of March 2023, there were 6,993 women officers in the Indian army, 748 in the navy. The strength of women officers in the Indian Air Force stood at 1,636, excluding medical staff. Women constitute 11.7% of the 2.1 million strong police force.
India has the highest proportion of female pilots to males in the world, making up 15% out of a total of about 10,000 pilots in the South Asian country, against 5% globally.
With 62.9% female participation, agriculture has the highest percentage of women workers, followed by manufacturing, at 11.2% in 2022.
Millions of Indian women are employed in unorganised sectors such as domestic and daily wage labourers.
Women accounted for 18.2% of board seats at NIFTY 500 companies in 2023, with the life sciences sector reporting the highest female representation on boards at 24%.
The tech industry has a high representation of women in the workforce at 34% but lags behind other industries when it comes to women in executive positions. There are 8.9% of firms with women in top managerial posts.
Women’s labour force participation was reduced to 22.3% due to impact of COVID-19, according to a 2022 report on Diversity in the Boardroom from Ernst & Young.
(Sources: Indian Press Information Bureau, Bureau of Police Research & Development and ILO)
(Reporting by Blassy Boben, Rupam Jain; Editing by Bernadette Baum)