Pandemic puts more pressure on Indian women already in margin

Desperate to work, Savira Dafadar is a day laborer welcoming construction workers from a poor neighborhood hidden behind a tall glass and chrome building at Gurgaon’s business hub, 32 km from New Delhi. Walk every morning to a busy crossroads waiting for an upcoming contractor. ..

After moving from her village 10 years ago, she easily found a job as a housekeeper and as a cleaner in the office. Like millions of other women, she lost her job last year during a severe blockade due to a COVID-19 pandemic.

Indian businesses and factories have reopened, but it has been difficult for Dafadar to find a job because the economy is struggling to recover.

“I’ve only been able to work for 15 days in the last three months,” said a 35-year-old.

According to experts, women around the world are more affected by unemployment than men during the pandemic, but the impact on women in India is particularly severe.

Even before the pandemic, women made up only about 20% of India’s workforce. This is well below the world average and lower than in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Many of them work in India’s vast informal sector.

Today, especially for women in poor families, their space can shrink even further.

Sona Mitra, Chief Economist of the Initiative for Those Working to Advance Women and Girls in New Delhi’s Economy, said:

“Many of the people who worked or ran in small businesses such as beauty and tailoring services and small shops ran out of savings during the outage and couldn’t resume work when the economy resumed. It was concentrated in sectors such as the clothing industry and call centers, where workers’ safeguards were low and easy to hire and dismiss. “

This year’s Sustainable Employment Center at Aziz Premji University reported that more women and young workers were unemployed due to the severe blockade last year, and fewer women were able to return to work after their jobs recovered.

While women re-entered work, many had to look to low-paying, unsafe employment.

“For example, when a small private school in the city was closed, teachers returned to the village and joined the immature work,” said Amarjeet Kaur, secretary-general of the All-India Trades Union Congress, one of India’s largest trade unions. Said.

“Therefore, the direction of many women during and after COVID has changed from skilled workers to semi-skilled and unskilled workers,” she said.

“The opportunity is simply not there”

The formal sector is a much smaller share of India’s total women’s workforce, but again women are disproportionately affected as industries that employ more women, such as hospitality, tourism and retail, have been hit hardest. Received.

Six women were among the employees fired by a food delivery company in a New Delhi office last year. Women made up the majority of the staff.

“It was very difficult for them to find a job,” said a former manager who asked not to use her name.

“The opportunity is simply not there,” she said.

The unemployed women were not on the record.

According to experts, the pandemic highlighted the paradox that women had previously faced. Despite rising levels of education and an increasing pool of women with college degrees, workforce participation is steadily declining.

From just over 30% in 2011, it fell to about 20% of the workforce in 2019.

“The pandemic simply expanded what was already happening, said Sairee Sahal, founder of SHEROES, a portal for female job seekers.

“For example, what is growing in retail is e-commerce, which has few women and is not a physical retailer that employs many women,” she said.

The public health crisis, which had closed schools for the last half of last year, also exacerbated the situation.

“Indian social norms impose the main burden of housework and childcare on women and limit their movement,” Mitra said.

She called the reduction of women’s opportunities a wake-up call, and said policymakers must spur the expansion of labor-intensive sectors such as garment manufacturing, where women have more opportunities. ..

“While some work is coming back, we see it coming in the lower rungs of the economy,” she said.

For those working on women’s issues, shrinking space for women affects not only the economic status of women in countries struggling to break away from patriarchal norms, but also their social status. I say it will be.

“When they lose their income, they lose their independence and status. I’ve seen it happen during a pandemic,” Cowl said.

“And women who don’t have a support system find themselves struggling to achieve their goals,” she added.

Dafadar is aware of the situation.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve cut everything I can, including food, in half,” she said, looking at the road in anticipation of a day’s work.

Pandemic puts more pressure on Indian women already in margin

Source link Pandemic puts more pressure on Indian women already in margin

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