When it comes to Indian cities with the best quality of life, Delhi tends to figure in the top five across various surveys, in the company of metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. With its infrastructure and economy and being the cultural melting pot that it is, Delhi attracts a lot of migrants each year seeking jobs and a better life.

However, it might not be the best place for women, demonstrated by government data that shows a high rate of crimes against women. Now, another study has confirmed that the Capital is actually the worst place for women to work in.

Because of its seemingly worsening law and order situation and low workforce participation among women, Delhi took the bottom spot among all Indian states in a study conducted by the American think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Nathan Associates. Sikkim topped the table with a score of 29.9 points out of 40 while Delhi managed just 8.5 points.

The study considered four major factors while ranking states: law and order, incentives for women entrepreneurs, legal restrictions on women’s working hours, and the share of women in the total workforce. While the northeastern state of Sikkim came out on top, northern states like Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh languished at the bottom of the table.

The study comes at a time the Central government is trying to promote greater female participation in its flagship Make In India campaign to boost manufacturing in the country, even as the economy deals with the lowest job creation rates since 2009.

Moreover, multiple studies have stressed upon the importance of including women in the workforce as well as literacy programmes since that achieves a multiplier effect of distributing economic and social gains more widely in the populace. Earlier this month, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said India’s gross domestic product can rise 27% if the number of women in the workforce is brought on par with that of men.

“For example, we have estimates that if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, the GDP in the United States would expand by 5%, by 9% in Japan, and by 27% in India,” Lagarde said.

The study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, hence, provides a good picture of the situation in Indian states, at least from an overall perspective on authorities creating conducive work conditions and laws for women.

Source: CSIS
Source: CSIS

“Many states have laws limiting women’s working hours, and Indian women face harassment in the workplace and while commuting,” the report said. “On the other end of the spectrum, nine states and Union Territories do not formally allow women to work at night in any sector. Fifteen states and Union Territories did not offer women entrepreneurs any special incentives in their business-promotion policies.”

The situation, however, is somewhat better in states like Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have removed all restrictions on working hours for women, according to the study. It said that women can now work even at night in factories, information technology firms and retail establishments.

The study claimed that it was “surprising” to see the national capital come last because of its restrictions on working hours and job creation incentives for women.

“Delhi came last in our index due to its relatively low justice and workforce participation scores, its continued formal restrictions on women working at night in a wide range of sectors, and its lack of any incentives for female entrepreneurs in its industrial policies,” the study concluded.