The top 10 per cent of Indian population hold as much as 77.4 per cent of the total national wealth, an OXFAM study on inequality said on Monday.
The report, released by the international rights group before the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, said the wealth of top nine billionaires in India is equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent of the population while 60 per cent or the majority of the population own merely 4.8 per cent of the national wealth.”
Indian women are hardest hit by this rising income inequality as they continue to receive less wages as compared to their male counterparts for the same work, the report found.
Women Are Paid Less Than Man
The report said, in the workplace, women still receive 34% less wages than their male peers for the same amount of work.
Underlining that only 9 women feature in country’s 119-member billionaires club, the report also said that women are the hardest hit as we go down the social ladder.
Burden of Poverty Lies Heavier On Women
“When governments reduce their expenditures on essential public services such as education and healthcare, women and girls are the first ones to lose out on these services,” according to the report.
In India, girls belonging to families in the top 20% get nine years of education on average, while girls from families in the bottom 20% get none at all. Even those who make it to school are often pulled out when money is tight, the report said. In addition, more than 23 million girls drop out of school annually because of a lack of toilets in school and proper menstrual hygiene management facilities.
Women Spend Nearly 5 Hrs on Unpaid Care Work
In India, the unpaid work done by women looking after their homes and children is worth 3.1% of the country’s GDP. Women spend 312 minutes per day in urban areas and 291 minutes per day in rural areas on such unpaid care work, it said. In comparison, men spend only 29 minutes in urban and 32 minutes in rural areas on unpaid care work.
“This disproportionate burden of unpaid care work by women means they lose out on opportunities to participate in paid labour or are forced to undertake paid labour leading to their time poverty and loss in well-being,” the report said.
Women Discouraged From Taking Up Paid Work
Citing a 1,000-household survey undertaken in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, OXFAM said 53 percent of those surveyed said it was acceptable to harshly criticise a woman if she failed to care well for the children and 33 percent felt it was acceptable to even beat a woman for this reason.
Observing that these issues put severe restrictions on women’s ability to go out and undertake paid work, OXFAM said women’s ability to undertake paid work is not merely determined by economic considerations but also by social norms.