Skip to main content

Pandemic: Unpaid work by women has made them 'as vulnerable as the unemployed'

By Our Representative 

Speaking at a webinar organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, and Counterview, on the State of Earnings in India: The Crisis of Inequality Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic, Dr Anjana Thampi, assistant professor, Jindal Global Law School, Sonepat, talking about the today’s “worst downward spiral”, has regretted, the years leading up to the pandemic have shown a sinking in wages.
The workforce of India being an extensively heterogeneous lot, the majority of the salaried or the daily wage segment earn less than the median income that is 10,000. Caste and gender also play a pivotal role in demonstrating the earning of an individual, Dr Thampi said.
As a considerable section of women who are a part of the workforce and work in their family fields are not paid, and thus do not participate in the decision-making process. In addition to this, the female segment in the workforce is very less. That is 18-19% and has been declining significantly since the 1980s.
Workers from the disadvantaged castes also represent more in the jobs that pay less and can be replaced by automation but are not. The years leading up to the pandemic have shown a sinking in wages. The workers in the bottom have been hit the worst since they already had very little savings.
During the lockdown the unemployment peaked. Delayed payment of wages and nonwage has also been seen at a large scale. Issues like food and nutritional security also surfaced majorly due to the absence of income sources for many.
Keeping the status of economic inequality, 2020 was a good year for the wealthiest people of the country. The combined net worth of these billionaires increased by a staggering 35%. While 1.7 lakh people lost their jobs every hour in April 2020, according to Oxfam.
Economic inequalities are combined with the stark disparities in access to essentials. 905 million people did not have access to piped water and 287 million did not have access to toilets. One-fourth of the population lived in single-room dwellings while 5% of the population lived in dwellings with more than 5 rooms. Disparities in access to online education and economic distress can increase the number of dropouts and worsen access to employment opportunities.
Dr Priyanka Chatterjee, assistant professor, Department of Economics and International Business, School of Business Studies, Sharda University, taking the discussion ahead, said that the status of employment in India was already not in a good shape prior to the pandemic. The gender lens to the access of paid work was also discussed. A majority of unpaid work being done by women, makes them as vulnerable as the unemployed.
The surveys conducted to study the status of employment, have all stated that the ratio of unemployed women working at home has increased considerably in the pandemic. The workforce had been hit worse in the first wave of the pandemic than the rural. 
Women in independent sector earn as much as one-third of men's pay and are unable to access basic infrastructure to run and hold small scale business
The construction and manufacturing sector being hit the worst in the pandemic, the recovery has not been as well as anticipated, since the third wave has hit the rural areas also, along with the urban. Unemployment from the construction sector has been the most, along with the manufacturing sector, with the service sector having to through the least unemployment.
According to a Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report,13.3 million people lost jobs in the construction sector, 8 million in the manufacturing sector, and contrastingly 20 million in the service sector that has a sizably small share in the labour market. The reason for this situation in the service sector is the nature of the unorganized service sector.
The construction industry being shut from the day of the commencement of the lockdown, has led to the unemployed men and women from the industry to shift to independent work. But statistics have shown that self earners are equally economically vulnerable if not more. Women in the independent sector earn as much as one-third of the men's pay and are unable to access basic infrastructure to run and hold small scale businesses.
Answering questions from Dr Simi Mehta, CEO, IMPRI, regarding the gender roles and how and when can we expect a paradigm shift in the areas of divided unequal income, Dr Thampi said that the acknowledgement and active concern that these issues have been and are receiving is a move towards change.
As compared to the previous times when these issues were not a part of the public dialogue. In addition, to accelerate the process towards more equitable income and access, better policy frameworks need to be implemented. Concerns regarding the working status of the ASHA workers and their honorarium were also discussed. The need to institutionalize the credit facilities by the banks was also mentioned.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”