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  • Author: Farzana Afridi, Amrita Dhillon, Sanchari Roy
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper studies the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the gendered dimensions of employment and mental health among urban informal-sector workers in India. First, we find that men’s employment declined by 84 percentage points post-pandemic relative to pre-pandemic, while their monthly earnings fell by 89 per cent relative to the baseline mean. In contrast, women did not experience any significant impact on employment post pandemic, as reported by their husbands. Second, we document very high levels of pandemic-induced mental stress, with wives reporting greater stress than husbands. Third, this gendered pattern in pandemic-induced mental stress is partly explained by men’s employment losses, which affected wives more than husbands. In contrast, staying employed during the pandemic is associated with worse mental health for women and their (unemployed) husbands. Fourth, pre-existing social networks are associated with higher mental stress for women relative to men, possibly due to the ‘home-based’ nature of women’s networks.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Employment, Mental Health, COVID-19, Informal Economy, Social Networks
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Marie Hyland, Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: reater legal equality between men and women is associated with a narrower gender gap in opportunities and outcomes, fewer female workers in positions of vulnerable employment, and greater political representation for women. While legal equality is on average associated with better outcomes for women, the experience of individual countries may differ significantly from this average trend, depending on the countries’ stage of development (as proxied by per capita GDP). Case studies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Spain demonstrate this deviation. Especially in developing countries, legislative measures may not necessarily translate into actual empowerment, due mainly to deeply entrenched social norms, which render legal reforms ineffective. Women are more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in low- and lower-middle-income economies but less likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in upper-middle- and high-income economies. Analysis of a 50-year panel of gendered laws in 190 countries reveals that country attributes that do not vary or change only slowly over time—such as a country’s legal origin, form of government, geographic characteristics, and dominant religion—explain a very large portion of the variation across countries. This finding suggests that the path to legal equality between men and women may be a long and arduous one. Nevertheless, the data also show that the past five decades have seen considerable progress toward legal gender equality. Gendered laws do evolve, suggesting a role for legal reforms in women’s economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Law, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, South Asia, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain
  • Author: Alex Tammaro, Alex Katz
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Despite India’s strong economic growth, women’s labor force participation in India has decreased—from 33 percent in 2005, to 27 percent in 2010, to 24 percent in 2019. Even with increased investment in women’s access to education and professional opportunity, women are leaving the labor market, dampening economic productivity and innovation. So why are women opting out? Bhavani Arabandi offered answers in a presentation to Urban Institute staff titled Karma and the Myth of the Indian Superwoman. Arabandi spoke to highly skilled, highly educated Indian women as part of an ethnographic study to determine why they step away from lucrative, fulfilling careers. She examined how structural barriers—the disadvantages, constraints, and discouragement women face—are “treated as normal by society and often internalized.”
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Economic Growth, Participation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Shamindra Nath Roy, Partha Mukhopadhyay
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India is one of the lowest globally in terms of female labour force participation (FLFP), ranking only better than Pakistan in South Asia. While the decline in FLFP in rural areas is starkly visible, the urban FLFP has been consistently low since the 1980s despite higher economic growth and increasing level of education among females. The economic cost of such low FLFP (16.8%) is huge and if, for instance, it could be raised to the level of FLFP in China (61.5%), it has the potential to raise India’s GDP up to 27%. This paper attempts to investigate the structural deficiencies behind this consistently low urban FLFP through a variety of perspectives, ranging from measuring the complexity of women’s work to the implications of caste, location and family structure. It finds factors like presence of female-friendly industries, provision of regular salaried jobs and policies that cater to women’s needs to work near home like availability of part-time work, can improve the situation, though prejudices arising from patriarchy require to be addressed to make these measures truly transformative and not palliative.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Meghna Paul, Avani Kapur
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Poshan Abhiyaan earlier known as the National Nutrition Mission is Government of India’s (GoI’s) flagship scheme that aims to holistically address the prevalence of malnutrition in India through the use of technology, convergence, behavioural change, training, and capacity building. This brief uses government data to report on the following: Trends in GoI allocations, releases and expenditures; Trends in expenditure of selected individual components of Poshan Abhiyaan; Trends in participation by gender and activities conducted under the Mission.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Budget, Food Security, Economy, Capacity
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Avani Kapur, Tenzin Yangki
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This brief reports on two schemes: a) The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Government of India’s (GoI’s) maternity benefit scheme aimed at providing partial compensation for wage loss and improving health seeking behaviour of pregnant women and lactating mothers, and b) the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) aimed at incentivising institutional and safe delivery to reduce infant and maternal mortality. Using government data, this brief reports on: Trends in allocations, releases, and utilisation; Coverage and payments; and Outputs and outcomes.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Government, Health, Health Care Policy, Budget, Women, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Joachim Betz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite being a consolidated democracy with free and fair elections and having a political system with intense party competition, a relatively vibrant civil society, and a functioning federal set-up, India still ranks poorly in terms of the coverage, generosity, efficiency, and quality of its social protection. This is difficult to explain based on the factors usually advanced for the implementation of generous social policies. A second puzzle is the predominantly protective nature of welfare policies in India in the current era of globalisation, which should necessitate policies enabling workers to participate successfully in a more demanding economic environment. These puzzles may be explained partly by (a) the long-term insulation of the Indian economy from international competition, (b) the low share of industry and modern services in GDP until recently, (c) the precedence of identity policies, (d) the fragmentation of the political sphere, and (e) the meagre empowerment of women in India. We should, however, acknowledge that change is underway and that the picture is not bleak across India as a whole – being supported by economic reforms and growth, a greater degree of decentralisation and party competition within the country, increasingly discerning voters, and progress on female education and employment opportunities.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Reform, Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Ritwik Shukla, Avani Kapur
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This brief reports on two maternity benefits schemes, offering conditional cash transfers to pregnant women and mothers: a) The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Government of India’s (GoI’s) scheme aimed at providing partial compensation for wage loss and improving health seeking behaviour of pregnant women and lactating mothers, and b) the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) aimed at incentivising institutional and safe delivery for reducing infant and maternal mortality. Using government data, this brief reports on: Trends in allocations, releases, and utilisation, Coverage and payments, and Outputs and outcomes.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Government, Health, Budget, Women, Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Globally, research has shown that, there is a high correlation between the level of per capita income and the rate of female labour force participation. At the same time the agency and autonomy of women in a country improve with the level of female labour force participation. Sen (2000) has argued that the autonomy and agency of women in a society and their empowerment is enabled by four conditions in their lives. First the higher the education level of women, the more empowered they are likely to feel. Second, if they are working outside the home, they are likely to feel a sense of autonomy and empowerment. Third, they should also have an independent source of income from that of the significant other in their household. Finally, their empowerment can be usually enhanced if they own assets and have access to them. One can see from this analysis that the first three requirements for women’s’ empowerment are related to each other and to some extent co-dependent. We will keep these considerations in mind as we analyse labour markets and how women engaged with them in different parts of the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment, Inequality
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra, Sharmistha Sinha
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: A continuous and sharp decline in the already depressed female labour force participation rate in India post 2005, particularly in the face of its rapid economic growth raises questions about the inclusiveness of the growth process. The paper recommends a set of policies based on the analysis of the nature and trends of female work participation and a brief analysis of the underlying reasons behind such trends. Women are moving out of the low productivity agricultural sector, which necessitates an increase in employment opportunities in the nonagricultural sector, particularly in rural and in semi-urban locations. Improving skills for employability, especially in manufacturing clusters (which is where the jobs are) located close to young girls’ rural homes, would help the females to join the labour force if non-agricultural jobs are growing. To release women from unpaid work in the household to join the paid labour force, it is essential to improve child care facilities and other basic service facilities, which again calls for raising the share of public expenditure in some sectors and specific facilities. For instance, increasing single working women’s housing, making public transport safer, and modifying public programmes to cater to women’s needs can pave the way for more women to engage and remain in the labour force, become active participants in the growth process, and thus achieve greater economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment
  • Political Geography: India