Women in the workforce
Easily half the workforce that contributes to India's economy is the women and most often, their contribution in a smaller context is taken less than seriously. With respect to the larger picture, a major chunk of work performed regularly by women is unpaid. The empowerment of women in terms of job acquisition and performance has brought significant changes in how women have come to operate in manners different from how the normalised situation had been marked by oppression and social and gender inequality. Certainly, there is a much longer way to go but thus far, the economic importance of women has been brought to highlight in a more quantifiable way. The government-sponsored Mudra scheme was introduced with the objective to provide loans upto Rs 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small or micro enterprises. This essentially meant monetarily empowering the lowers rungs of the contributing society. Non–corporate small business segment of comprising numerous partnership firms operating as small manufacturing units, service sector units, shopkeepers, fruits or vegetable vendors, food-service units, repair shops, machine operators, small industries, artisans, etc. in rural and urban areas, are eligible for the scheme. What very interestingly turns out is that women get more Mudra jobs than men, albeit only in smallest loan group. Women have comprehensively edged out men by cornering 68.92 lakh extra jobs, i.e., 56.3 per cent of the total 1.12 crore additional employment generated with Mudra loans disbursed during 33 months between April 2015 and December 2017 over 90 per cent of these jobs come on account of Shishu loans which has the smallest ticket size of up to Rs 50,000, according to an Indian Express analysis. It is widely observed that this trend could be an indicator to the fact that while female workers tip the scales in terms of overall numbers, their employment is largely restricted to smaller units funded by loans under the Mudra scheme. There is also the socio-economic dynamics at play here as women are willing to work but are met with restricted options in nearly every stratum. Different from the traditional childcare occupations, Mudra Yojana, provided substantial impetus to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME sector). The MSME sector is critical for India's transformation. Undertaking necessary steps to facilitate further growth will better harness the tremendous potential of women in the workforce.