Indiaspend Launches Women@Work 2.0

Women@Work is a contemporary compendium of evidence-based visual and long-form narratives on India’s women labour force.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Indian women’s workforce participation rates–already among the world’s lowest–fall further. In November 2020, 2% fewer men but 13% fewer women were employed or looking for jobs than a year ago, data show. Urban women were the worst hit. As numerous development agencies have warned, and we have reported, the pandemic and the resultant economic downturn threaten to worsen women’s already precarious standing in the job market and the economy. Yet, improving women’s workforce participation could be key to economic recovery–in the pre-COVID world, one estimate had shown, getting even 50% of Indian women into paid work could boost GDP by 1.5 percentage points per year.

This economic potential is surpassed by the social and political benefits that women’s paid work makes towards creating a richer society. Women’s economic empowerment and independence in decision-making are vital for poverty reduction–research has demonstrated that women leaders invest more in communities, and that women’s education has knock-on effects such as on their children’s nutrition and health. Above all, and beyond these economic and societal arguments, lie women’s own inalienable rights, agency and volition. This second part of our Women@Work series seeks to peel back these layers of realities, experiences and motivations to explore how more Indian women can be empowered to join the workforce so as to unleash their economic and social potential.

Women@Work, an ongoing initiative at IndiaSpend, deep dives into factors that hinder and affect women’s participation in economic activities. This seminal body of data-backed and evidence-based ground reports tracks the declining female labour force participation and aims to understand the constraints that inhibit employment opportunities and meaningful participation in India’s economy. Women@Work is a contemporary compendium of evidence-based visual and long-form narratives on India’s women labour force.

In partnership with Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), Women@Work 2.0 will examine the impact of the pandemic on women’s employment. The IndiaSpend newsroom will apply a solutions journalism lens to find new pathways for women’s economic participation in a post-COVID world. With this initiative, IndiaSpend aims to create a compendium of contemporary narratives that highlight the dynamics of women’s workforce participation in India. This includes, but is not limited to, women in invisible labour roles, women as unpaid labourers, women in public sector employment, women creating employment opportunities, and women in leadership positions.

As part of this Women@Work 2.0, IndiaSpend published its first story titled “Women Hold Up Economy Yet Continue To Disappear From Workforce” written by Namita Bhandare and its first video interview on ‘Indian Women Out Of Jobs: Covid19 Lockdown Impact’ with Soumya Kapoor Mehta, head of IWWAGE. Photographer and Padma Shri awardee Sudharak Olwe is the mentor and visual director of Women@Work 2.0.

About IndiaSpend:

IndiaSpend is India’s first and only data journalism initiative. Founded in 2011, IndiaSpend utilizes open data to analyze a range of issues with the broader objective of fostering better governance, transparency, and accountability on issues such as education, health, gender, youth and employment, climate change and environment, rule of law and governance. IndiaSpend is a non-profit and a project of The Spending & Policy Research Foundation and registered as a Charitable Trust with the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai.