Empowering Women: Strategies for Bringing Them Back to Work

In the realm of economic empowerment, the issue of low female labour force participation rates (LFPR) remains a significant challenge across the globe. Despite strides in gender equality, women still encounter barriers that hinder their full participation in the workforce. However, addressing this issue is not just a matter of equality; it’s also a smart economic move. Increasing the LFPR of women can lead to significant economic growth and development. In this article, we’ll explore strategies to bring women back to work and boost their LFPR.

Understanding the Challenge

Low LFPR among women is a complex issue influenced by various factors such as cultural norms, societal expectations, lack of accessible childcare, inadequate support systems, and workplace biases. While progress has been made in some areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges, leading to setbacks in women’s workforce participation.

Data on Labor Force Participation Rates

Recent data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicates that as of 2023, the global LFPR for women stood at 47.1%, representing a slight increase from the previous year. However, this figure still lags behind the LFPR for men, which was 74.8%.

In the United States, the LFPR for women aged 25 to 54 was 73.4% in 2023, up from 72.3% in the previous year. Despite this improvement, there remains a notable gap compared to men, whose LFPR in the same age group was 87.5%.

In the European Union, the LFPR for women was 65.5% in 2023, showing a marginal increase from the previous year. However, significant variations exist among EU member states, with LFPR ranging from around 50% to over 75%.

As of the most recent available data, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women in India has exhibited a complex trajectory. While there has been a noticeable increase in female LFPR over the past few decades, the rate remains comparatively low. According to statistics from the World Bank, as of 2020, the LFPR for women in India stood at around 21.2%. This figure indicates a persistent gender gap in the labour force, with women being significantly underrepresented compared to men. Various factors contribute to this disparity, including cultural norms, limited access to education and skills training, as well as barriers to employment opportunities such as childcare responsibilities and societal expectations. Efforts to address these challenges and promote gender equality in the workforce continue, with initiatives aimed at improving access to education, increasing job opportunities, and challenging gender stereotypes playing a crucial role in shaping the future landscape of female labour force participation in India.

Flexible Work Arrangements

One effective strategy to encourage women to re-enter the workforce is by offering flexible work arrangements. Flexible schedules, remote work options, and job-sharing arrangements provide women with the flexibility they need to balance work and family responsibilities. Employers who embrace flexible work arrangements not only attract talented women but also benefit from increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

Affordable Childcare Services

Access to affordable and reliable childcare is crucial for enabling women to pursue employment opportunities. Governments and businesses can collaborate to establish childcare facilities or subsidise childcare costs, making it easier for women to work without worrying about childcare responsibilities. Investing in early childhood education not only supports women in the workforce but also yields long-term benefits for children’s development and future economic prosperity.

Mentorship and Networking Programs

Mentorship and networking programs play a vital role in supporting women’s career advancement. By connecting women with mentors who can offer guidance, support, and opportunities for skill development, organisations can empower women to overcome barriers and achieve their professional goals. Additionally, networking events provide women with valuable connections and access to potential job opportunities, helping them re-enter the workforce with confidence.

Addressing Gender Bias and Discrimination

Gender bias and discrimination continue to hinder women’s advancement in the workplace. Employers must implement policies and practices that promote gender equality and create an inclusive work environment where women feel valued and respected. Training programs on unconscious bias and diversity awareness can help organisations identify and address discriminatory behaviours, fostering a culture of equality and fairness.

Supportive Policies and Legislation

Government policies and legislation play a crucial role in promoting women’s participation in the workforce. Measures such as paid parental leave, equal pay for equal work, and anti-discrimination laws help level the playing field for women and create an enabling environment for their economic empowerment. By advocating for supportive policies and implementing gender-sensitive initiatives, policymakers can contribute to increasing the LFPR of women and driving sustainable economic growth.

Economic Value of Women’s Inclusion

Studies have shown that closing the gender gap in LFPR could lead to substantial economic gains. According to McKinsey Global Institute, advancing gender equality in the workforce could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. This increase in GDP would result from various factors, including increased productivity, higher earnings for women, and improved allocation of talent.

Moreover, the World Bank estimates that increasing women’s LFPR to match that of men could boost GDP by an average of 35% across OECD countries. This economic growth stems from the expansion of the labour force, enhanced productivity through diverse perspectives, and increased consumer spending resulting from higher household incomes.

Bringing women back to the workforce and increasing their LFPR requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the underlying barriers and challenges they face. By implementing strategies such as flexible work arrangements, affordable childcare services, mentorship programs, and supportive policies, businesses and governments can create opportunities for women to thrive in the workforce. Empowering women economically not only benefits individuals and families but also contributes to broader societal development and prosperity. As we strive for a more inclusive and equitable future, investing in women’s workforce participation is essential for building a stronger and more resilient economy.


  • Ten Tips On How To Empower Other Women At Work | Forbes | Jun 2019
  • Empowering Women in the Workplace | Strategy Business | Oct 2022
  • Empowering to bring ‘Her’ back in the workforce | Economic Times | Mar 2021

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