Opportunities and Challenges for Women Workforce

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Debjani and Madhuparna take a hard look into the opportunities and challenges for women workforce in this research article of theirs, exclusively in Different Truths.

In India, the emphasis is always on general education than vocational education at the receiving end. This has resulted in a large number of educated but unemployed people. According to Annual Employment and Unemployment survey Report (2013-14), In India, workforce participation for women is estimated to be 25.8%. Among the whole women workforce, 93.7% of rural and 88.8% of urban women are unskilled whereas 58 % of rural and 30 % of urban women workers are illiterate. The government has developed an ambitious scheme of increasing the proportion of formal and informal skilled workers in its total workforce from a mere 2% now to 50% by 2022 to a 500 million strong resource pool.

The state governments have implemented the vocational education at the +2 stage. More than 150 courses are offered in six major disciplines: agriculture, business and commerce, engineering and technology, health and para medical services, home sciences and humanities. Polytechnic education in India offers three years generalised diploma course after class X in civil, mechanical, electrical, electronics, computer science, medical lab technology, hospital engineering etc. Polytechnic Institutes that are especially for women offer courses in garment technology, beauty culture, textile design, library science, etc. To provide training facilities to women so as to enhance their participation in the industry as skilled workers, there is a network of 231 ITIs exclusively for women, besides 534 special wings for women in general ITIs. To help women in acquiring skills for taking up income-generating activities, training programmes, exclusively for them, are being provided through the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) and 10 Regional Vocational Training Institutes for Women (RVTI).

The Department of Women and Child Development, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) under MHRD provide vocational education and training to women and other prioritised groups.Ministry of Rural Development administers schemes including Jawahar Rozgar Yojona, Integrated Rural Development Programme, Employment Assurance Scheme, Training of Rural Youth for Self- Employment and the programme for Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas. Ministry of Khadi & Village Industry Commission has several training centres. Entrepreneurship Development Institutes also provide training based on resource endowment of a particular area. Ministry of Agriculture’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra imparts training to farm women, farmers and rural youth. Several initiatives like, Swalamban, empowering women through Self Help Group, Kishori Shakti Yojana, Anganwadi Scheme, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh etc. are also been implemented.


There are several socio-economic barriers towards the participation of women in vocational education and training programmes.

  1. Lack of basic education, awareness and positive attitude of the family.
  2. Narrow range of female-dominated sectors.
  3. High cost of learning.
  4. Lack of ladies hostel, scholarships, loan and transport facilities.
  5. Lower remuneration for a female worker than men.
  6. Lack of flexible curriculum according to the changing technologies.
  7. Lack of female trainer and gender sensitive delivery mechanism.
  8. Inadequate industry- institute involvement that results lack of absorption of students according to the requirement of local industries.


Awareness training on issues related to health and nutrition, confidence building, negotiation, leadership skills, sexual harassment and gender stereotypes in households and in the workplace should be provided to the women trainees. Equal remuneration of women and men worker should be ensured by implementing policies. Involvement of all parents and communities to support, design and deliver gender-responsive need-based skill training are necessary. Convergence of schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Adult Education, and Vocational Education Programme to ensure numeracy and literacy are required. Safe and female-friendly accommodation, transport, childcare services, easily accessible loan, increased no of female trainer, mobile training units, distance learning using mobile phones, radio and internet, updated, demand based, flexible, curriculum and linkage between research institutes and local industries will be beneficial to increase women participation.


Anuradha, R. Vijaya & Reddy, G. Lokanadha. (2013). Empowerment of Rural Women through          Vocational Education and Training, Conflux journal of Education, 1(2), 6-12.

Batra, S. (2009). Strengthening human capital for knowledge economy needs: an Indian Perspective, Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(5), 345 – 358.

National Policy on Skill Development. (2009). Directorate General of Employment and Training,          Ministry of Labour, India. Retrieved from          http://labour.gov.in/policy/NationalSkillDevelopmentPolicyMar09.pdf…on March 20, 2017

Reporting of the Working Group on Technical Education for the XIIth Five Year Plan, Retrieved from http://planningcommission.gov.in….on March 20, 2017

©Dr. Debjani Guha & Madhuparna Bhattacharya

Co-writer: Madhuparna Bhattacharya: Research Scholar, Department of Education, University of Kalyani, Kalyani, WB


Dr. Debjani Guha: Associate Professor, Department of Education and Director-in-Charge, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of Kalyani, Kalyani, WB,India, Area of Research Interest: Women’s Education, International & Comparative Education