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Most Indian working women are married

Women power.
By Madhura Karnik
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Most Indian working women—76.7% of them, and across age groups—are married. The country’s total female workforce stood at 149 million, according to data from the Census 2011.

Of the 115 million married working women, 59.4% fall in the main worker category involving those who’ve worked for over six months in a year; the rest are marginal workers. Most of them in the main worker category are engaged in agriculture and cultivation.

Over 1.43 lakh married working women were aged under 15, flouting the marriage and working-age laws. In all, there are four million working women aged 15 years or less.

Here is a break-up of how the Indian married female workforce is scattered:

The data somewhat contradicts the long-held patriarchal notion that Indian women give up their jobs post-marriage to turn homemakers. One reason for most working women being married is that in India, women get married at a far younger age than in many western countries. In fact, the average age of marriage here is 22.2 years (for both males and females), among the world’s lowest.

Besides, Asia’s third-largest economy also has the world’s highest number of child brides.

Meanwhile, even though an increase in the share of married women in India’s workforce is encouraging, the absolute number of women with corporate and organised sector jobs is still low. This is evident in the massive concentration of working women in agriculture.

India still has one of the world’s lowest female labour force participation rates: 33% in 2012. Studies have suggested that job flexibility in the formal sector and increased social spending, mainly on infrastructure and education, could help India bridge this gap.

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