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Over 50% Indian women labour on without being paid

Labourers try to keep warm on a building site in Greater Noida, Greater Noida, India. Over 51 per cent of work done by women in India is unpaid and not counted in national statistics, with some estimates even putting this proportion at 85-92 per cent, says a report by the high-level panel set up by the UN Secretary General. It called for greater government, business and civil society partnership to meet the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030. “Hundreds of millions of women work informally without social and labour protection in law or in practice. In India, for example, some 120 million women (around 95 per cent of women in paid work) work informally.

“Expanding opportunities for women in informal work is integral to realising the SDGs,” says the global report ‘Leave No One Behind’, released here on Tuesday. Mentioning the 22 per cent decline in female labour participation rate in India, the report called for concerted action by all stakeholders to remove systemic constraints, such as adverse social norms, gaps in legal protection, failure to recognise and redistribute unpaid work as well as gender gaps in digital access. “If women are made equal in the labour force, India’s GDP will go up by 60 per cent and world GDP by 20 per cent,” said Renana Jhabvala (SEWA), citing a McKinsey report, adding that this was the “first time that women were being seen as economic actors”.

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