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Informality and Women’s Work

Informality and Women’s Work

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Informality and Women’s Work

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  1. Informality and Women’s Work Head, Dept of Economics, 4th Floor, Annexe Building, SNDT Women's University, Smt. Nathibai Road, Churchgate Campus, Mumbai 400020, India Mobile: +91-93210 40048 Email:

  2. Macro Policies • Dual Economy model • Unequal relations between dependent and dominant sector • Globalisation Triangles • SEZs, EPZs and FTZs • Role of State-complicity in perpetuating super exploitation, • subversion of protective labour standards • Labour reforms

  3. Dynamics of Informal labour Market The shift from a stable/organised labour force to a flexible workforce has meant hiring women part-time, and the substitution of better-paid male labour by cheap female labour. Sub-contracting, home-based production, the family labour system, all have become the norm. This is being called an increase in ‘efficiency' and ‘productivity'.   Informal rules and norms impact the transactions between women's productive activities and their environment, specifically the availability and costs to women of labor time, skills, productive assets, credit, organization, and marketing.

  4. Dr. Arjun Sengupta Committee • Dr. Arjun Sengupta Committee Report on Condition of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector, 2006 revealed that there are tendencies of a higher concentration of women workers in low productivity and declining industries, belying the impression that with economic reforms, employment opportunities in more modern sectors would grow. • The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008

  5. Urban Women in the Poverty Groups • The percentage of women living in poor households was 34% in 1993-94 and 25% in 2013-14 in urban areas. Out of all women in the urban areas, 25% are in the poverty groups as per NSS 68th round. • There has been lot of debate on inadequacy of income criteria as an indicator of poverty. Even the focus on per capita income/expenditure is based on a false premise that household is a harmonious unit where each and every members needs are taken care of judiciously and equitably.

  6. Women Headed Households As per 2011 Census, 27 million households, constituting 11 per cent of total households in the country, are headed by women. Several studies have pointed out that intra-household discrimination in education against girls, which results in girls possessing less skill than boys, contributes to fewer economic opportunities for women, resulting in higher poverty rates among women-headed households.

  7. Interstate and Rural-urban Migration Due to shrinking job opportunities in rural areas, mass of poor women have been migrating to urban areas with or without their family members. Here starts their de-skilling process as their skills of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, forest-based occupations and artisans become either redundant or rated as lowly. Occupations where poor women are employed have been dead-end jobs - domestic work, care of children, elderly and terminally ill people, and scavenging, vending and informal sector manufacturing jobs.

  8. Distress Driven Employment Growth in Informal Sector • The burden of supporting the family is increasingly falling on women as large proportion of poor men are becoming involuntarily or voluntarily unemployed in a fast-changing and technologically advancing economy. • sign of economic distress and sheer helplessness • The survival needs of the family often has its toll on women with household work and reproductive responsibilities still entirely seen as women’s work outside the sphere of production.

  9. Service Sector Work: Mostly Domestic Work Due to burgeoning middle class and thriving upper class that have enjoyed the fruits of iniquitous economic growth unleashed by policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization, the demand for paid domestic workers has been on the rise. Among women and girls, paid domestic workers are the most disadvantaged group of women who spend a significantly higher portion of the day on unpaid care work and degrading and unsafe paid work as domestic help.

  10. Need for Labour standards • Public Health and Reproductive Rights Concerns • Deplorable Quality of Life: Education, Health, Nutrition and Sanitation • Labour intensity • Occupational Health & Safety • Self Employed Poor Women in informal Sector • Women Vendors & Waste pickers • Sexual Harassment at Workplace • Special concerns of elderly women-Pension, night shelter, community based half way homes

  11. Social Security & Social Protection Social protection needs to be seen as a long term investment in the productive capacities of the present and future generation of workers. Decent and safe work should be a fundamental consideration of economic, trade, financial and social policies. Social protection provision should be seen as an inalienable right connected to work. Schemes and legislations concerning health insurance, maternity benefits, pension, crèches, and workplace safety need to look at context-specific ways of combining contributions from different stakeholders, and combining statutory with voluntary provision.

  12. Conclusion • Effective implementation of The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 must be the topmost priority for both the state and social movements. • The state should acknowledge private employers’ responsibility for eroding social protection as a serious concern and raise the awareness of employers of the productivity-lowering effects of poor employment practices. • Responsibility for social provision for informal workers needs to be shared by the state and employers; however at present the stakeholders with the least responsibility are the employers/ owners of capital. Thank you