Former President of FLO, the women’s wing of FICCI, Pinky Reddy commends the finding of the latest NSO survey on employment.
In July 2021, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation published its Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for the period of 2019-20. The PLFS survey, conducted by National Statistical Office (NSO), reported that the unemployment rate for women fell from 5.1% in the last survey to 4.2%. Pinky Reddy, who’s a philanthropist and entrepreneur, labelled the findings as “a positive indication of steps being taken in the right direction.”
On the PLFS report, she said, “the significant drop in the unemployment rate for women corroborates with the increment in the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) from 24.5% during the period of 2018-19 to 30% for 2019-20. This is worth commendation as we move towards increased participation of women in our workforce.”
As every sector is still recovering from the onslaught of the COVID19 pandemic, the PLFS report indeed points towards encouraging developments with regard to women empowerment in the workforce. The credit, according to Pinky Reddy, goes in part to several initiatives taken up by the government to enhance women’s employment.
She stated, “The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 had increased the duration of paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. For working mothers, this step ensured that there is no conflict or dilemma in the love and care they need to provide to their newborn and their desire to work.”
She also highlighted the enforcement of the Code on Social Security in 2020, which she praises as, “it provides an inclusive safety net of social welfare schemes including life insurance, disability insurance and skill upgradation to not only those involved in the organized sector but also in the unorganized sectors where the majority of working women are employed”.
Pinky Reddy has led the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry) Ladies Organization – FLO – in the past as its President, where she actively worked for the cause of women empowerment by undertaking various initiatives. Her endeavors include collaborating with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and US-India Business Council to represent the understated issue of Women Entrepreneurship on the international stage.
In 2018, she signed an MoU with Shivaji College’s Women Development Cell to give the students a bigger platform to work towards raising awareness about gender equality and women empowerment.
She also ruminated about her other initiatives during her time as the FICCI FLO President. “Being an entrepreneur myself, I have always been a strong supporter of women entering this space. In this endeavour, I curated the FICCI-FLO-SCWEC exhibition in 2018 to build a platform for women entrepreneurs from India as well as the SAARC nations.”
Looking at the road ahead, Pinky Reddy underscored certain challenges that are yet to be negotiated in the path towards optimal women’s participation in India’s workforce. “Inflexibility in working hours in many major firms, lack of creches for working parents, workplace safety and other concerns are major deterrents which prohibit women from partaking in employment activities”, she said.
She recommended, “The governments at central and state levels must work towards gender-sensitive legislations and policies to promote suitable and safe workplace conditions for women. We must look at models in countries like Finland which maintains a Gender Equality Unit specially for this objective and look for ways to implement them in our country”.
“Schemes like PMEGP (Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme) and MNREGS must be expanded to include more women within the ambit of consistent and stable employment and facilitate their upward social mobility. 2020-21 already saw women’s share in employment under MNREGS increase up to 207 crore person days. It is crucial to uphold this momentum through National Skill Training Institutes and Skill India mission under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship”, she exclaimed with an energetic vision for the future.