The low participation of women in India's labour force is largely due to gender discrimination in terms of wages and opportunities, a report by charity organisation Oxfam said on Wednesday.
To close the gap in women's labour participation, the Indian government would have to offer incentives for better pay, training, skills acquisition and job quotas to prospective employers to encourage the hiring of women, said the report, titled India Discrimination Report 2022, and based on government data as well as Oxfam's own research.
India's female work participation rate was just 25% for 2021, according to federal government data, among the lowest for emerging economies.
"What the report finds is if a man and woman starts on an equal footing, the woman will be discriminated in the economic sphere where she will lag behind in regular/salaried, casual and self-employment," Amitabh Behar, chief executive of Oxfam India said in a statement.
For every woman, 98% of the inequality she faces would be caused by discrimination because of gender. The remaining 2% would be because of education or work experience, the report said.
Other groups faced discrimination as well, the report said.
"Apart from women, historically oppressed communities such as Dalits and Adivasis along with religious minorities such as Muslims also continue to face discrimination in accessing jobs, livelihoods, and agricultural credits," it said.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked states to use systems like flexible working hours to retain women in the labour force, saying the country could achieve its economic goals faster if it made use of "women power".
The Oxfam report found that a sizeable segment of qualified women were unwilling to join the labour market because of "family responsibilities" and the need to conform to social norms.