Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gender Equality: The Untouched Goal of Indian Workforce

Gender equality is yet to be a reality for the Indian workforce. If women’s participation in top management is to be seen, it is pathetically low, with just 3% of the senior positions in the private sector being filled by them. In the public sector, 5-6% is occupied by women, according to an ICICI Bank presentation made at an Aima conference for ‘Women In Leadership Roles’, in New Delhi last week.

Globally, women’s presence in boardrooms has improved. Poonam Barua, regional director, The Conference Board, a US-based research firm, said: “The number of Fortune 500 companies with 25% or more women on their boards has increased from 11-64% from 1995-2005.”

Overall, in India, women’s participation in the workforce has grown to 31% in 2005 from 26% in 2000. The growth has been more in the rural areas with 34% compared to 26% urban participation, according to Roopa Purushothaman, chief economist of the Future Group.

Given the talent crunch and the need for creating a quality resource pool, firms are hiring a number of women. It was the need of the hour that was helping reduce gender inequality, experts said.

“The services sector has been the growth engine for the Indian economy. Its share of GDP has grown to about 52% in 2004-05 from 41% in 1990-91. Of the existing base of 85 lakh workers in the organised sector, 30% will retire within five years,” said Madhabi Puri Buch, head (operations), ICICI Bank.

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