Men in India take 82% of labour income, says report

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Men in India take 82% of labour income, says report

  • Men in India capture 82% of labor income, while women earn just 18%, according to the first-ever estimates of the gender inequality in global earnings presented in the World Inequality Report 2022
  • Female labor income in India of 18.3% is lower than the average for Asia, which was at 27% in 2019.
  • Eleven countries in the region have values above 30%.
  • Among the neighbours that performed worse than India were Bhutan (17.5%), Bangladesh (16.9%), Pakistan (7.4%), and Afghanistan (4.2%); and those with a higher share were Nepal (23.2%), Sri Lanka (23.3%) and China (33.4%).

Reasons for this inequality

Women and men tend to do different jobs.

  • Women and men are differently distributed by industry (e.g., more men in heavy industry and more women in light manufacturing) and within the same industry (with women at the
  • low end of the responsibility and pay ladder).
  • This “occupational segregation” reflects both supply and demand factors, including women’s education and employer recruitment and promotion practices.

“Women’s work” and “women’s jobs” are undervalued in comparison to that done by men.

  • There is evidence that compensation for a particular type of job is more closely related to the sex of the workers generally performing that job than to factors such as education,
  • experience or unionization, which suggests that lower wages for women’s jobs reflects discriminatory attitudes.

Lower rates of unionization among women.

  • Women are less likely than men to work in unionized sectors and occupations and to benefit from union support to upgrade wages and working conditions.

  • Lower levels of education and training among women. Average levels of education and training of women are lower than men’s in most countries. This reflects gender biases in society, educational and vocational training systems and access to on-the-job training.

  • Unequal allocation of family responsibilities and the lack of support services.

  • The compromises required to fulfill both labour force and family responsibilities are mostly made by women, who are more likely to have employment breaks to care for family members, or to seek work that is located closer to home in order to accommodate family responsibilities.

Pandemic impact

  • After the pandemic, there was a worsening of female labour participation rate, which fell to 16.1% during the July-September 2020 quarter, according to the Ministry of Statistics.
  • Eastern Europe has the highest female labour income shares, with the average female share near 41%. Moldova has the highest female labour income in the world at 45%.
  • Overall, the share of women in total incomes from work neared 30% in 1990 and stands at 34% today.


Minimum wages:

  • Minimum wages are of particular importance to women because women predominate in lower-paid work where minimum wages are most relevant and because women are less likely to be in unionized sectors where wages are set through collective bargaining.

Equal pay:

  • Continued disparities between the wages of women and men underline the importance of
  • equal pay provisions in legislation. Experience has shown that “equal pay for the same work” provides only limited protection as men and women generally do different types of work and female-dominated work is generally undervalued. Current efforts (and international agreements) thus focus on equal pay for work of equal value.


  • Leave provisions of particular importance from an equality perspective are maternity leave (adequate leave for child-bearing) and parental/family leave (provisions available to men as well as women to enable them to fulfill family responsibilities).

Protective legislation:

  • Protective legislation has often banned work by women in particular areas (e.g., underground mining) or required certain working conditions for women but not for men (e.g., levels of exposure to toxic substances, limits on working hours and night work).
  • Such legislation is now under review in many countries for its impact in restricting women’s job opportunities.
  • Reviews can consider which standards are justified and should be extended to protect both men and women, which should be limited to specific circumstances (e.g., protection during pregnancy) and which should be abolished.

Non-standard work:

  • Part-time and temporary workers, homeworkers, and domestic workers—categories in which women predominate —- are particularly vulnerable in the labour market. It is important to review labour standards legislation in light of the protection given to these workers (e.g., in relation to minimum wages, hours of work, rights to unionize, etc.).


  • Specification of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex in employment (including recruitment, contracts, training, promotion, conditions of work and remuneration) is important in promoting the principle of equality in employment and providing a means of recourse.

Implementation & enforcement

  • Even where labour standards exist, implementation may be uneven. Increased knowledge among workers and unions of labour standards and workers’ rights is a means to support enforcement.

  • An emphasis on women’s employment rights and equality provisions in awareness activities is a means of enabling women to organize to claim their rights in relation to employers and to gain the attention and support of unions on these issues.


  1. Beijing Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women (1995)
  • Here paras. 165, 178, 179 particularly concerned with employment.
  • It is endorsed by 189 countries.
  1. UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • The article 11 addresses equality in employment.
  • This convention has 97 signatories.
  1. ILO Convention No. 111, Discrimination (employment and occupation) (1958)
  • It concerns equality of treatment and opportunity, including access to employment and conditions of work.
  • It is Ratified by 130 countries.
  1. ILO Convention No. 100, Equal remuneration(1951)
  • The convention establishes the principles of equal pay for women and men workers for work of equal value.
  • It is ratified by 137 countries.
  1. ILO Convention No. 156, Workers with family responsibilities (1981)
  • It concerned with the ability of both men and women to reconcile work and family responsibilities.
  • It is ratified by 27 countries.