Knowledge Center

Population, Education, Labour Force, Management and Government



  • Currently there are over 1,236,344,631 people living in India, which makes it the second most populous country in the world, following China.1
  • Women are 48.5% of the general population of India. Across India that percentage fluctuates. In the state of  Daman & Diu for example, women are 38.2% of the population.2
  • The gender gap starts at birth. For every 100 girls born nationally, there are 112 boys born.3 But for all ages, the gender gap closes to 100 females for every 108 males.4
  • India has the largest Gen Y population in the World.5
    • The median age in India is 27 years (compared to 37.6 years in the United States).6
      • Almost half the population is under 25 years old.7 
  • ​Three major population trends will impact economic growth: 
    • the population of working age people is growing.  
    • people are moving from rural areas to the cities. 
    • a rising middle class is increasing overall wealth.8



  • India’s religions play a strong role in its culture and people, and the large majority of Indians are Hindu.9
  • The Caste System (Jati) goes back thousands of years, and continues to influence choices and access. The castes, from highest to lowest status, include:
    • Brahmin10
    • Kshatriya11
    • Vaisyas12
    • Sudras13
    • The Dalits/Untouchables (considered outside the caste)14

Educational Achievement

  • Less than half of Indians in their twenties have completed secondary education.15
  • In 2011, 77% of men (over 15) and 55% of women were literate.16
    • Literacy rates vary between urban and rural populations. In 2011, 80% of urban women were literate compared to 59% of rural women.17
  • Men dominate the numbers of those enrolled in higher educational degrees.18
  • In 2011-2012 the percentage of women enrolled in specific undergraduate degree programs included:  
    • 29%  Engineering/Technology 
    • 37% Computer Science/Computer Application
    • 32% Management
    • 32% Law  19

Women in the Labour Force

  • In 2009-2010, women were 26.1% of all rural workers, and 13.8% of all urban workers.20


  • Women are an estimated 30% of all economically active individuals.21  The participation rate for women is falling: from 37% in 2004-05 to 29% in 2009-10.22


  • Women earn 62% of men’s salary for equal work.23


Labour Force Trends and Legislation

  • For women's economic participation, India ranked 124th, (towards the bottom of the 136 countries listed in the 2013 Global Gender Gap Index) , and for women's educational opportunity a ranking of 120.24*


  • Women received 12 weeks paid maternity leave.25


  • In the next 40 years, India is projected to add 424 million working-age adults.26


  • India has a young workforce and population. In the next ten years, with both younger people and women entering the workforce, India expects to add an additional 110 million people to its labour force.27


  • In 2013, India passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act to provide protection against sexual harassment in the workplace.28



  • Women are just 3% of legislative, management, and senior official positions.29


  • In 2010, Women held only 5.3% of board directorships of BSE-100 companies.30


  • 22.6% of women are employed in business31 and they make up 14% of senior management roles.32


  • According to Gender Diversity Benchmark, 2011, India has the lowest national female labour force and the worst leaking pipeline for junior to middle level position women.
    • 28.71% of those at the junior level of the workplace,33
    • 14.9% of those at the middle level,34
    • 9.32% of those at the senior level.35


  • Out of 323 total executive directorship positions (generally considered to be prerequisites to holding the CEO position) on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100, just eight (2.5%) are held by women.36
    • 54% of companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100 have no women board directors.37


  • Despite occupying small percentages of leadership positions, 97.2% of women (compared to 95.6% of men) aspire to jobs with increased responsibility.38

Women in Government

  • In June 2014, India was ranked 116 out of 189 countries ranked in descending order for percentage of women in Parliaments.† 39


  • In the Panchayati Raj system, a new bill has been proposed that gives at least 50% of seats to women, raising from a previous quota of 33%.40
  • Five states already offer 50% reservations to women:
    • Bihar41
    • Uttarakhand42
    • Himachal Pradesh43
    • Madhya Pradesh44
    • Chaattisgarh45


* The Global Gender Gap Index is measured by the World Economic Forum. It ranked 136 countries in 2013 on the size of their gender gap between women and men in four areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.
† Data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments.189 countries are classified by descending order of the percentage of women in the lower or single House.



How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in the Labour Force in India. New York: Catalyst, 2014.