Wednesday June 07, 2023

Minorities, women in India face financial discrimination

September 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Women, religious minorities — including Muslims — and historically oppressed communities, such as Dalits and Adivasis continue to face discrimination in getting jobs, livelihoods, and agricultural credit, reveals the Oxfam India report – “India Discrimination Report 2022.”

In rural areas, the sharpest increase of 17 percent in unemployment was for Muslims as compared to non-Muslims during the first quarter of the Covid-19 pandemic making rural Muslim unemployment rate 31.4 percent.

15.6 percent of the urban Muslims population aged 15 and above were engaged in regular salaried jobs whereas 23.3 percent of non-Muslims are in regular salaried jobs in 2019-20, states the report.

In addition, the lower employment for urban Muslims attributes 68.3 percent to discrimination in 2019-20. The report shows that the discrimination faced by Muslims in 2004-05 was 59.3 percent, indicating an increase in discrimination by 09 percent over the last 16 years.

“Regular-salaried non-Muslims in urban areas earn INR 20,346 on average which is 1.5 times higher than Muslims who earn INR 13,672. This means non-Muslims are earning 49 percent more than Muslims in regular employment, the report noted. Self-employed non-Muslims earn INR 15,878 on average while self-employed Muslims earn INR 11,421 despite the overrepresentation of Muslims in urban self-employment. This means non-Muslims are earning a third more than Muslims in self-employment”, notes Oxfam.

The report also points out that women in India despite their same educational qualification and work experience as men will be discriminated in the labour market due to societal and employers’ prejudices. The academically recognised statistical model applied in the India Discrimination Report is now able to quantify the discrimination women face in the labour market. The lower wages for salaried women are due to 67 percent of discrimination and 33 percent due to lack of education and work experience.

”Oxfam India calls on the government of India to actively enforce effective measures for the protection and right to equal wages and work for all women. It should also incentivise the participation of women in workforce, including enhancements in pay, upskilling, job reservations and easy return-to-work options after maternity”, adds the report.

“Discrimination in the labour market is when people with identical capabilities are treated differently because of their identity or social backgrounds. There have been very limited attempts made to measure the extent of discrimination and its impact on the lives of marginalised communities in India so far. Oxfam India conducted extensive analysis of government data from 2004 to 2020 to understand the inequality and discrimination when it comes to access to jobs, income, health and agricultural credits across the country. What the report finds is if a man and woman starts on an equal footing, the woman will be discriminated in the economic sphere where she will lag behind in regular/salaried, casual and self-employment. The inequality in the labour market for gender and other social categories, the report finds is not just due to poor access to education or work experience but because of discrimination”, said Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India.