Youth and Women: India’s Quest for True Independence

Youth and Women: India’s Quest for True Independence

Youth and women empowerment holds the key to a brighter future in India. However, despite 76 years of independence, the extent of true independence experienced by the Indian youth and women remains a topic of discussion. This article explores India’s ongoing quest for achieving genuine independence for these segments of society.

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India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule in 1947 marked a watershed moment in its history. Seventy-six years have passed since that momentous occasion, yet the question of whether the youth and women of India enjoy true independence in making their own choices remains pertinent. While significant strides have been made in empowering these segments of society, numerous challenges persist, requiring continued efforts to create an inclusive, egalitarian, and progressive nation. This article aims to explore the progress made, the obstacles faced, and the path forward toward ensuring the independence of the youth and women of India.

Youth and Women Stats and Facts

In 2022, employment for individuals aged 18-25 in India witnessed a significant growth of 13.4% compared to the previous year (Business Standard Report,2023 ). Furthermore, the share of employment opportunities for this age group reached a five-year high, accounting for 56% of the jobs created in 2022. However, despite this positive trend, a considerable proportion of India’s youth, particularly women, continue to face challenges in accessing employment, education, or training opportunities. Approximately 33% of the country’s youth falls into this category (The Print Report, 2023).

When compared to other countries globally, India’s overall unemployment rate is not notably high. The youth unemployment rate in India is below the global average. In a comparison of unemployment rates among countries in the Asia-Pacific region, India falls somewhere in the middle (Statista, 2023). For instance, Cambodia boasts an estimated unemployment rate of less than 1%, while Afghanistan faces the highest unemployment rate in the region at 8.8%.

These statistics highlight the progress made in employment opportunities for Indian youth, particularly in the 18-25 age group. However, the presence of a significant proportion of unemployed and underutilized youth, particularly women, underscores the need for continued efforts to bridge the gap and provide equitable access to education and employment opportunities. By addressing gender disparities, investing in skill development programs, and fostering an environment conducive to job creation, India can further empower its youth and reduce unemployment rates, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

The declining engagement of women in the Indian labor force is a troubling trend, considering the country’s strong economic growth, rising wages, and increasing incomes. The female participation rate has significantly dropped from 34.1% in 1999-00 to 27.2% in 2011-12, highlighting persistent gender disparities in labor force participation (Verick, 2014). Rural women experienced a decrease in their participation rate from 26.5% in 2009-10 to 25.3% in 2011-12, while urban women saw a slight increase from 14.6% to 15.5% during the same period (ILO Report, 2014; World Bank data). These statistics shed light on the challenges and barriers that hinder women’s access to and sustained involvement in the labor force. Cultural norms, social expectations, limited educational opportunities, inadequate skills training, and insufficient support for work-life balance contribute to this decline.

Youth and women empowerment

Empowering the Youth

India’s youth, comprising a significant proportion of its population, holds the key to the country’s future. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of their potential and a concerted effort to empower them. The government has launched initiatives such as Skill India and Start-Up India to nurture entrepreneurship and skill development. These initiatives aim to provide young individuals with the tools and opportunities to shape their destinies.

However, challenges remain. Issues like unemployment, limited access to quality education, and social biases continue to hinder the true independence of the youth. Disparities in educational opportunities and inadequate career guidance restrict the ability of young people to make informed choices. Additionally, societal pressures and expectations can impose limitations on their freedom to pursue unconventional paths or express their individuality. To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to invest in comprehensive educational reforms, provide mentorship programs, and foster an environment that encourages innovation and critical thinking. Moreover, the youth should be actively involved in decision-making processes at all levels, ensuring their voices are heard and their perspectives considered.

Empowering Women

Gender equality and women’s empowerment have been significant focal points for India since gaining independence. Progressive legislation, such as the Constitution of India and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, have sought to safeguard women’s rights and promote gender equality. Women have made notable advancements in various spheres, including education, politics, and entrepreneurship.

However, despite these achievements, gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence persist. Issues such as unequal access to education, limited employment opportunities, and cultural biases impede women’s independence. Traditional gender roles and societal expectations often curtail their freedom to make choices regarding education, marriage, and careers. To empower women, it is imperative to address these challenges holistically. Gender sensitization programs, legal reforms, and affirmative action policies can help bridge the gender gap. Encouraging women’s participation in decision-making bodies, supporting women-owned businesses, and promoting women’s leadership can foster a more inclusive and egalitarian society. Furthermore, investing in healthcare, providing access to reproductive rights, and combating violence against women are crucial steps toward empowering women and ensuring their independence.


India’s journey towards empowering its youth and women in making independent choices has witnessed both progress and challenges. While strides have been made in education, entrepreneurship, and legislative reforms, societal norms, cultural biases, and economic disparities continue to hinder true independence. Achieving youth and women empowerment requires a comprehensive approach involving education reforms, inclusive policies, and cultural shifts. To build a nation where the youth and women can exercise their independence, it is vital to provide quality education, promote critical thinking, and encourage creativity.

Additionally, eradicating gender-based violence, challenging traditional gender roles, and creating a supportive ecosystem for women’s advancement are key components of this journey. The path towards true independence for the youth and women of India necessitates collective efforts from the government, civil society, and individuals alike. By embracing inclusivity, equal opportunities, and respect for individual choices, India can progress towards a brighter future where all its citizens can exercise their independence and contribute to the nation’s development.


Ms. Shreya Roy

Ms. Shreya Roy is the Founder and Director of Ecofunomics LLP. Alongside her role as an entrepreneur, she is a dedicated Ph.D. research scholar at the prestigious Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, focusing on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Foreign Trade. With 7 years of invaluable experience in research and teaching, she brings a wealth of knowledge to her endeavors.

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