You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.
– Jawaharlal Nehru

Women workforce constitutes an integral part of total workforce in India. On 31st march 2004, women constituted 19 per cent of the total workforce. The participation of women in the labor force has always been lower than that of men, in the rural as well as urban areas. The work participation rate for women has increased significantly. In 1981, work participation rate for women was only 19.67 per cent which increased up to 22.73 per cent in 1991 and 26.68 per cent in 2001. In the women workforce, women from rural areas are greater in number as compared to the

women-employment-1urban women. Amongst rural women workers, a majority is employed in agriculture and some are employed in cottage industries. In the urban areas, women workers are primarily employed in the unorganized sectors. As on the 31st March, 2005 a total number of 50.16 Lacs women employees were engaged in the organized sector, out of which 29.21 lacs (58per cent) in the public sector and 20.95 lacs (42per cent) in the Private Sector. Employment of women in public sector increased by 1.1 percent and by 2.5 percent in the private sector during 2004-2005. The zone wise analysis showed an increase of 8 percent in North-Eastern Zone, followed by Western Zone (5.3per cent), Eastern Zone (3per cent) and Central Zone (1.3per cent) and Northern Zone (1.2per cent). Only Southern Zone registered a marginal dip of 0.8 percent.

Some Vital Statistics

    • The number of women job seekers has increased from 99.3 lacs in 1999 to 106.1 lacs in 2004. Thus the percentage of women job seekers to the total job-seekers has also increased from 24.6per cent in 1999 to 26.2per cent in 2004.
Number of Women Job Seekers
Banks and Financial Institutions
Year Number of Women (in lacs) Percentage to total
1999 99.3 24.6
2000 104.5 25.3
2001 108.8 25.9
2002 106 25.9
2003 107.5 26
2004 106.1 26
      • Number of Educated Women Job Seekers as on December 2004 was 7537.7 thousand. Educated Women at the end of 2004 accounted for 25.8per cent of the total educated job-seekers.
Number of Educated Women Job Seekers
Banks and Financial Institutions
Year Number of Women Percentage to total
2000 7,912 27.1
2001 8,526 28.1
2002 7,921 26.8
2003 8,032 26.6
2004 7,538 25.8
      • The state wise analysis reflects that Kerala has the maximum (21.1 lacs) women job-seekers followed by West Bengal (19.3 lacs) and Tamil Nadu (15.3 lacs) while minimum number of women job-seekers are in Rajasthan (1.0 lacs).
      • The percentage of educated women job seekers among the total women job seekers has gone down from 73.3per cent to 70.4per cent in 2004.


  • The work participation rate for women was 25.68 per cent in 2001. This shows an improvement over 22.73 per cent in 1991 and 19.67 per cent in 1981.
  • Women workers constituted 19 per cent of the total organized sector employment in the country, as compared to 18.4 per cent in the previous year. As on 31st March, 2004, there were about 49.34 lacs women workers employed in the organized sector (Public and Private Sector).



  • As far as industries are concerned, in 2005, the manufacturing industry faced a dip of 1.1per cent in women employment. On the other hand, other industries reflected an increase in women employment. An increase of 7.8 per cent was registered in Wholesale and Retail Trade followed by 5.6 per cent in Mining and Quarrying, 5.5 per cent in Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing, 5.2 per cent in Financing, Insurance Real Estate & Business Services, 1.7 per cent in Electricity, Gas & Water, 1.5 per cent in Construction, 1.4 per cent in Community, Social and Personal Services and 1.2 per cent in Transport, Storage & Communications.

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