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Gender Wage gap: Women are Paid Much Less Than Men in Rural and Urban India, Shows NSO Survey

Nationally, the average rural wage for men is Rs 393/day whereas a woman worker's wage is Rs 265/day.
Women Workers

Representational use only.Image Courtesy: Flickr

Delhi: There is a significant gender gap in wages in both rural and urban areas of India, according to a recent survey report titled "Women and Men In India 2022" by the National Statistical Office. The report states that the market-determined wages for women performing similar work are considerably lower than those of men. Moreover, the gender wage gap has widened in rural areas over the past decade, although it has narrowed in towns, according to a Times of India news report.

The report reveals that during April-June 2022, the female wage rate in rural India ranged from just over half to 93.7% of male wages, while in cities, it ranged from just under half to 100.8% of male wages. 

As per national figures, the average rural wage for men is Rs 393/day whereas a woman worker's wage is Rs 265/day. Similarly, the urban wage for men is Rs 483/day against Rs 333/day for women.

The three states with the highest daily wage rates for rural males, namely Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, also have the widest gender gap in wages, with female wages averaging less than 60% of male wages.

The gender wage gap in Kerala is the widest among large states, with both rural and urban regions experiencing the highest disparity in wages for similar work between men and women. The average daily wage rate for rural males in Kerala is the country's highest at Rs 842, while female workers in rural areas of the state receive Rs 434 a day, which is only 51.5% of men's wages.

In other large states such as Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Odisha, female rural wage rates were less than 70% of male workers' wages, the TOI report citing the NSO publication said.

Except for Karnataka, which has one of the highest male wage rates, daily wages are less than Rs 400 in the other five states. Uttarakhand is a standout among all states with women earning slightly more than men in urban areas. 

In four states, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, the male wage rate is more than Rs 400 per day and the gender divide is among the lowest. The female wages in these states are over 85% of male wages. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand also have a lower gender divide. however, a reason behind this is that male workers are also being paid very low rates rather than women getting decent wages.

For many states, urban areas show a similar pattern as a higher wage rate for men seems to increase the gender divide while the divide is narrower in low-wage states. Thus, the gender gap in urban wages is the highest in Kerala since it has the highest wage rate for men. Similarly, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also have high wage rates for men and large gender disparities in wages. 

Conversely, states such as Gujarat, Odisha, and Jharkhand have some of the lowest overall wage rates, resulting in a smaller gender pay gap. Notably, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh's urban areas have higher overall wages and a smaller gender pay gap. A comparison of wage data from 2011-12 reveals that the gender pay gap has widened in 11 of the 19 large states' rural areas, with West Bengal, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh seeing a rise of more than 10 percentage points, the TOI report said.

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