April 04, 2016

India: Muslim participation lowest among women in workforce - Report

The Indian Express

Muslim participation lowest among women in workforce: Report
Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: April 3, 2016 4:51 am

Pune-based Dr Razia Patel, who was part of a high-level committee that recommended a complete ban on oral, unilateral and triple talaq (divorce), said that a bleak picture persists on the overall status of Muslim women in the country. Among all communities studied, Muslim women are the lowest on labour force participation rate.

Dr Patel was part of the 14-member committee chaired by Dr Pam Rajput, which was appointed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2013 to assess the status of women in the country since 1989 and to evolve policy interventions. The committee, which completed its surveys in 2015, paid special attention to women in marginalised communities. Razia Patel, who is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Education in Pune, told The Indian Express that the central committee had strongly recommended a complete ban on oral, unilateral and triple talaq. “We have also recommended that justice through courts should be accessible and fast so that women are not required to go to unconstitutional arbitration courts,” she said.

“It makes wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status,” said Patel. These women experience high levels of violence at home and outside, she said. When it comes to customary practices and personal laws, Adivasi, Muslim and Dalit women are far from being equal to their male counterparts and these laws and practices are actively used against them by their community, she added. Muslim women lag behind in almost all key socio-economic indicators of development. They are economically and educationally marginalised, have low social status, experience domestic abuse as well as “communal violence spurred by identity politics”, Patel said.
The report states that Dalit, Muslim, Adivasi, elderly and differently-abled women have low levels of educational attainment. While Adivasi and Dalit women have a relatively large workforce share, Muslim women have the lowest participation rates.

According to the 2011 census, the total number of women workers in India is 149.8 million. Though most women make an economic contribution in one form or another, much of it is not documented. Only 25 per cent of women are working, less that half per cent are seeking work and the total women labour force is a mere 25.3 per cent, and there has been a steady decline in the last decade.

Only 15.5 per cent of urban women are in the workforce compared to 30 per cent in rural India. Within this, the share of Muslim women in the workforce is less than 10 per cent, Patel said. According to the 66th round of the National Sample Survey Organisation (2009-10), out of every 1,000 women in the labour force, only 101 were Muslims.

Appoint Commission on Muslim women

We have strongly recommended the appointment of a Commission on Muslim Women that will map and suggest actions on issues related to them, Patel said. There is a need to review and update current schemes for Muslim women to assess their effectiveness in terms of social indicators apart from introducing special schemes in collaboration with the Mahila Bank and nationalised banks for availability of credit to them, the committee has said. Improve accessibility to girls schools, hostels and implement RTE provisions in letter, review the curriculum to add the latest vocational life skills and make it more friendly and flexible for “migratory communities like Muslims” and monitor healthcare schemes for Muslim women’s participation, are some of the recommendations of the committee. Programmes such as Mahila Samkhya be introduced in areas with high Muslim concentration so that they can develop leadership and socialisation skills among women, apart from the speedy rehabilitation of women in relief camps, have also been recommended.