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Migrant workers and their families gather at a checkpoint during a government lockdown in New Delhi, March 2020.

Migrant workers and their families gather at a checkpoint during a government lockdown in New Delhi, March 2020.

Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg
Business
Economics

The Virus Has Made India’s Devastating Gender Gap Even Worse

Indian women already faced a wide gender gap in employment and education. Now, the lockdown has set many even further back.

Women around the world have been hurt financially by the coronavirus outbreak, but the situation in India is more precarious for them than almost anywhere else. For women in India already suffer from a wide gender gap in employment, wages and education.

Less than a quarter of women in India are in the labor force — among the poorest standings in the world — and they earn 35% less on average than men, compared to the global average of a 16% gap. Women represent 49% of India’s population yet contribute only 18% to its economic output, about half the global average. And when Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25 imposed a lockdown on this nation of 1.3 billion people, many women were set back even further.