The Times of India, July 3, 2014
Subodh Varma, TNN
New Delhi: Nearly 160 million women in India, 88% of which are of working age - that is between 15 to 59 years - just remain at home doing "household duties", according to Census data that has just been released.
Note that these are women who reported themselves as 'not working'. All the other women who work, whether full time or part time, also do domestic work. But these 16 crore are the Great Invisible Workforce, primarily involved in care work and rearing families.
The total number of women in the age group 15-59, according to Census data released earlier, is just under 355 million. What the latest data shows is that about 45% of them, or nearly half, are confined solely to domestic duties.
The women confined to doing household duties has an interesting complement - men exclusively doing household duties. The ratio is, unsurprisingly, 28 to 1. That is, compared to 16 crore women doing only domestic duties, just 58 lakh men are exclusively involved in household duties.
The large proportion of working age group women who are confined to their home and hearth is partly because of social pressures, and partly the result of economic policies that have offered no opportunities to women. Either way, it is a shocking loss to the country, and to the women themselves.