… trend shows they are taking jobs with money and higher positions

Yangyel Lhaden

In Bumthang, Yuden looks after her kids and works in the field when time permits. She also grows potatoes in her one-acre field while her husband is away working as a paid worker in other sectors. Her husband is also in charge of marketing their farm produce.

Yuden is one of the many employed women in the agriculture sector which employs the highest number of individuals where women’s employment number exceeds compared with men. However, women’s engagement in the agriculture sector has not resulted in gainful employment.

She is considered employed under the employment status ‘contributing family worker in agriculture’.

The contributing family worker is defined as a household member who is engaged in a family business or farming activity without any payment, according to the definition from Labour Force Survey Reports (LFSR).

In the agriculture sector, the trend over the years in 2018, 2020, and 2022 from LFSR shows that women are highest employed in the agriculture sector under contributing family members.

Out of 135,649 employed women, agriculture employed about 85,700 women which is 63 percent of total employed women, from which 39.1 percent of women in agriculture are contributing family members, according to LFSR 2018. Men in agriculture representation are lower than women at about 76,400 but their employment status as contributing family members is at 20.5 percent in 2018.

There is a slightly positive trend indicating a decline in women’s employment in agriculture and their role as contributing family members in the agricultural sector over the years. There is also a slight increase in women’s employment status as regular and casual paid employees, and their representation in other major sectors is also on the rise.

According to the LFSR 2020 report, out of the total employed women, which numbered 151,900, approximately 89,300 were engaged in agriculture. This represented an increase of about 4,000 women compared to the figures in 2018. However, the proportion of women employed as contributing members in agriculture declined to 36.8 percent in 2020 and further dropped to 29.6 percent in 2022. In 2022, the number of women employed in agriculture was approximately 66,000.

Based on the data from LFSR 2018, 2020, and 2022, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of regular women employees in rural areas. The figures rose from approximately 7,000 in 2018 to about 9,300 in 2020 and further to more than 9,600 in 2022. Similarly, in urban areas, the number of women employees experienced growth, starting at about 17,000 in 2018, then reaching around 20,500 in 2020, and finally settling at about 21,000 in 2022.

The employment of women in major occupations, such as Managers and Professionals, has demonstrated consistent growth since 2018. According to the data from LFSR 2018, 2020, and 2022, women’s representation among Managers was 24.1 percent in 2018, which increased to 33.1 percent in 2020, and saw a significant rise to 37.1 percent in 2022. The number of women in managerial positions was approximately 2,500, 4,200, and 5,800 in 2018, 2020, and 2022, respectively.

The definition of Manager from LFSR is:  A manager in the occupation category includes parliamentarians, executives, local government leaders, and working proprietors. In the professional category, women’s representation was 31.9 percent in 2018 which increased to 32.5 percent in 2020 and 40.8 percent in 2022. The number of women in professional positions was approximately 6,600, 7,600, and 9,800 in 2018, 2020, and 2022, respectively.

However, there has been a noticeable decrease in women’s representation among skilled agricultural and forestry workers, with figures dropping from around 89,000 in 2020 to 65,700 in 2022.

The overall women’s employment has also decreased over the years from 135,649 employed women in 2018 to only 103,453 employed women in 2022, according to LFSR.