Swarajya Spec: Why A Jobs Quota For Women Is The Wrong Way To Correct Gender Imbalance At Work

Transcript:

Today, we discuss why Rahul Gandhi’s 33 per cent jobs quota for women is the wrong remedy.

After Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee said they would reserve tickets for women to contest for Lok Sabha 2019, Rahul Gandhi didn’t want to be left behind - he has announced a post-election jobs bonanza for women by proposing 33 per cent reservation in government and public sector jobs.

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While on the face of it, this might seem like a move that would empower women, it’s actually the wrong move to correct the lack of women’s representation in the workforce today. Here’s why.

One, the government is already struggling to fill job vacancies in the public sector. There are as many as 2.4 million job vacancies currently. When you cannot even find the resources to plug this shortfall, providing 33 per cent reservation for women in these jobs is a long shot.

Two, there is no shortage of qualified women for public or private sector jobs. The real problem is patriarchy and the non-congenial atmosphere for women workers at the workplace, public or private. It is this that needs fixing. Quotas are merely an offer of crutches for those who don’t need them.

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Third, we already have 49 per cent reservation for the scheduled communities and Other Backward Classes, and an additional 10 per cent non-caste quota for the 'economically backward' sections. By giving 33 per cent reservation to women, we would only be building quotas within quotas - which is a rabbit hole we’d rather avoid.

Fourth, legislation such as the offer of six months of paid leave for pregnancy have worked as a deterrent for private sector companies to recruit women. Overall, women will not gain if the government becomes a substitute for the private sector, while the latter continues discriminating against them. Ultimately, it is the private sector that must provide new jobs for men and women, and not just the government.

So, it’s important to get this right - it’s not that women don’t qualify for the jobs available or that they don’t want to do paid work. They are losing out because of societal factors like patriarchy. What they need are better workplaces and a more supportive environment, and any policy to empower women should look to address this. Quotas are not the way to go.

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That’s a wrap for this episode, this is Shivangi Uniyal signing off, see you in the next one.

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