Dhruvika Dhamija’s data crunch throws up several remarkable facts such as:

  • Seventy two percent of all women working in industries across India were employed in just four southern states – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala…
  • Additionally, there is a wide gender-wage gap. For every INR 100 a male industrial worker earned as wages in 2019-20, his female counterpart earned only INR 87.06” [Underlining is ours]

Ms Dhamija says that there are just 8mn people employed in India’s formal manufacturing sector. Of this modest figure, only 1.6mn (19.7%) of these workers are women. This share (of women in the formal manufacturing sector) has remained constant for over 20 years inspite of the skyrocketing educational attainment levels of Indian women.

“Puducherry, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu had the widest gender wage gaps in the country with women earning only INR 74.1, 75.5 and 78.4 respectively for every INR 100 a male worker earned. However, in some states, women workers earned better than male workers with Jammu and Kashmir leading the group followed by Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.”

So where are Indian women working? How are they earning a living? Work done by researchers at the LSE (see https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2020/04/30/dont-forget-the-informal-sector-reviving-the-manufacturing-sector-in-india/), shows that “approximately 80% of the manufacturing labour force in India, is employed in the informal economy and hence plays a dominant role in the manufacturing ecosystem in India”.

Going beyond manufacturing and looking at female employment across sector, research published by Krea University shows that of the 105mn women in employment in India, 96mn are in the informal sector (see https://www.indiaspend.com/uploads/2021/03/26/file_upload-446784.pdf).

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