It’s something that you’d have suspected, but a new report has backed it up – Delhi is the worst state for women to work. This was brought out in a recent study that has ranked Indian states based on an index to determine the conduciveness of policies and working conditions for women. Four main factors were considered for the study: legal restrictions on women’s working hours; the responsiveness of the state’s criminal justice system to crimes affecting working women; the number of women workers in the state as a percentage of total workers; and the incentives the state’s startup and industrial policies offered women entrepreneurs.
What is notable from the rankings is that five southern states of Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry all occupy positions among the top ten. Besides Delhi at the bottom are Assam, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir. Sikkim was the best state for women to work.
The report has been released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Nathan Associates. Data in the report has brought out that four states (Sikkim, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu) have removed all restrictions on women working at night in factories, retail establishments, and the IT sector. On the other hand, there were fifteen states which did not offer women entrepreneurs any special incentives in their business-promotion policies. Delhi came in at the last position due to its relatively low justice and workforce participation scores, its continued restrictions on women working at night and lack of any incentives for female entrepreneurs. Out of a maximum possible score of 40 on the index, Sikkim received 29.9 while Delhi had just 8.5.
At just 24%, India has one of the world’s lowest rates of female workforce participation. A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that India could add 16% to its GDP in ten years if women participated in the workforce at the same rate as men. But many states have laws limiting women’s working hours, and Indian women face several types of harassment in the workplace.