Budget in India Gives Women Workers a Boost
The final budget of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has provided a number of incentives for women to join the formal workforce.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley announced that women’s mandatory contributions to the Employees Provident Fund – the national retirement benefits scheme – would drop from 12 percent to 8 percent.
The move is designed to increase women’s take-home pay and encourage workforce participation. India has some of the lowest rates of women’s employment in the world, at 24 percent.
The budget also included measures to promote organic farming among women via self-help groups, increasing loans to such groups by 37 percent, and to provide free electricity and gas connections for underprivileged women.
Economic Survey Finds 21 Million Unwanted Girls in India
A pre-budget annual economic survey has found there are 21 million unwanted girls in India.
A desire for sons has led to more girls being born as couples tried for sons. Meanwhile, son preference has skewed the country’s overall gender ratio: There are 63 million fewer women in India than there should be, largely due to sex-selective abortion and poorer nutrition and healthcare for girls.
“The lives of women are improving,” the report states, “but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born.”
The pre-budget report raised eyebrows for its pink cover, which was intended to represent women’s rights. For the first time, it contained a chapter on women in the economy, which also showed that women’s employment has fallen from 36 percent to 24 percent in the past 10 years.
Ethiopia Lifts Ban on Domestic Workers’ Travel
The Ethiopian government has raised its prohibition on domestic workers traveling overseas to work.
The government has signed agreements with Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar, and launched training programs for low-skilled workers to prevent its citizens from being abused or denied pay while working abroad.
Abuse of women domestic workers under the kefala system, which ties work visas to individual families, is rampant in the Middle East and has caused a number of countries to ban traveling there for work. The Ethiopian consulate stated that 10 of its citizens – seven of whom were women – committed suicide in the United Arab Emirates last year.
Uganda and Kenya have both recently lifted similar bans on travel to the Gulf states for work, citing new standards intended to protect domestic workers’ rights. Indonesia maintains its ban on citizens working in 21 Middle Eastern countries, which has not stopped women traveling there, and risking abuse, to work in homes.
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