Discrimination in India causes 100 per cent of the employment inequality faced by women in rural areas in the labour market and 98 per cent in urban areas, according to the latest Oxfam India report.
Aside from women, historically oppressed communities such as Dalits and Adivasis, along with religious minorities such as Muslims, also continue to face discrimination in access to jobs, livelihoods and agricultural credit, according to the India Discrimination Report of 2022.
According to the report’s findings, 67% of female wage earners face lower wages due to discrimination. Only 33% of lower wages for women are due to lack of education and work experience.
The Oxfam report’s findings highlight the extent to which discrimination is a driving factor behind the country’s low Female Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR). The LFPR for women in India has rapidly declined from 42.7% in 2004-05 to just 25.1% in 2021, showing the withdrawal of women from the labor force despite rapid economic growth during the same period. In 2019-20, 60% of all men aged 15 and over are in regular salaried and self-employment jobs compared to just 19% of all women of a similar age.
In 2019-20, 60% of all men age 15 and older were in regular salaried and self-employment jobs, while 19% of all women of a similar age were in regular and self-employment jobs.
There is also a significant gap in earnings between men and women in the case of regular and self-employment in urban areas.
The report further said that 93 percent of the earnings gap between men and women is due to discrimination.
“Rural self-employed men earn twice as much as women in rural areas. Male casual workers earn ₹3,000 per month more than women, 96 percent of which is attributed to discrimination,” he said.
Up to 91.1% of the difference in income between men and women is explained by discrimination.
The academically recognized statistical model applied in the report can now quantify the discrimination women face in the labor market. Lower wages for female wage earners are 67 percent due to discrimination and 33 percent due to lack of education and work experience, according to the report.
Muslims continue to face multidimensional challenges in accessing salaried jobs and income through self-employment compared to non-Muslims.
15.6 percent of the urban Muslim population aged 15 and over had regular salaried jobs, while 23.3 percent of non-Muslims had regular salaried jobs in 2019-20, the report added.
In rural areas, however, discrimination against Muslims in employment is relatively low. While 5.8% of Muslims over the age of 15 can find regular employment, this figure for non-Muslims is 6.9%; a difference of only 1.1 percentage points. This highlights that religious identity is not an important factor in access to rural jobs. However, these figures are for 2019-20; in 2004-05, discrimination accounted for 29% of the employment gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.
While the decline in rural discrimination against Muslims in employment is certainly positive, part of this decline is explained by lower levels of improvement in community educational attainment in the intervening years. This, in turn, caused endowments to fall and thus contributed to the reduction in the discrimination measure.
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