ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gender Dimensions: Employment Trends in India, 1993-94 to 2009-10

The data from the National Sample Survey Office's 66th round survey highlight a steep fall in the female work participation rate between 2004-05 and 2009-10. Examining some of the explicit and not-so-explicit trends in women's work participation in India from 1993-94 to 2009-10, this paper argues that indications are that there is a crisis in women's employment under liberalisation-led growth. It shows how specific attention given to unpaid work in nss data can overturn standard assumptions on women's employment and that this is vitally important to discussions on employment growth in India.

T he report Key Indicators of Employment and Unemployment in India, 2009-10 (NSSO 2011) shows that the disturbing trend of a steep fall in the female work participation rate (FWPR) that began in 2007-08 has continued. With an increase of 22.3 million in the male workforce between 2004-05 and 2009-10 being virtually cancelled out by a fall of more than 21 million in the female workforce, the need to understand the gender dimensions of employment trends in India has acquired a new urgency.1 This paper examines some of the explicit as well as not-so-explicit trends in womens employment from 1993-94 to 2009-10 and argues that they indicate a continuing crisis in this domain under liberalisation-led growth. Trends in the distribution of male and female workers in terms of employment status and broad industrial categories for the same period are also outlined. The paper shows how specic attention to unpaid work in the National Sample Survey (NSS) data can overturn standard assumptions regarding womens employment, and is relevant to more general discussions on employment growth in India. It argues that the time has come to constantly and explicitly make a clearer distinction between income-earning or paid employment and unpaid work while analysing employment trends.

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