Shramshakti (1988): Report of the National Commission on self employed women and women in the informal sector||
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON SELF-EMPLOYED WOMEN Survey of Women Workers in Poverty— 1987
Recognising the paucity of basic information on the demographic, social and economic aspects of poor self-employed women, the Commission made an effort to generate some quick data in this regard. Accordingly, in consultation with experts, a questionnaire was devised to gather information on various aspects like age, work status, education, membership of different organisations, particulars of family members, their education, earnings, type of activities and nature of employment engaged in, problems faced by the poor working women in the course of their work and their perception of work. As many as ten lakh questionnaires were mailed to different States and Union Territories to gather the requisite information with the help of the Government, as well as voluntary agencies, social workers, activists, educational institutions and trade unions. The purpose was not to be confined within the laid down statistical parameters of research and formulate some generalisations but to reach out to as many poor working women as possible in a short span of two months or so, and supplement the efforts of the Members of the National Commission who had toured various States and Union Territories to get the first hand, on-the-spot information from the working women themselves. The Survey was, thus, one more effort to get some insight into the working and problems of poor women. The format of the questionnaire was purposely kept as simple as possible. A sample questionnaire, with an appeal and instructions for filing up the questionnaire is given at Annexure I.
The questionnaires were filled in by various agencies on a purely voluntary basis. The postage was paid by the concerned agencies/individuals themselves. There are reports of where some illiterate individuals even paid money (Rupee one) for getting the questionnaire read out to them. It has doubtlessly, been an exemplary exercise. Within a short span of three months or so, the Commission received back as many as 1.5 lakh questionnaires. The promptness, and active cooperation and service rendered by various agencies and individuals in the country reflects their deep concern for the cause of unprotected labouring women. Needless to say, the method of filling up questionnaires and some interpretations and assumptions did differ. Nonetheless, the response was spontaneous and the reporting does mark the honest contribution of the activists, for presenting a true profile of the poor labouring women. This is evident from the primary analysis of the data. The data lend support and confirm the reality as witnessed by the Members of the Commission during their field visits and as recorded by the various researchers and activists. Some salient features emerging from the analysis of the data are as under follows:
Average size of Family. The average size of a family works out to be 5.3 persons comprising 2. 6 males and 2.7 females.
Sex Ratio The picture obtained in respect of sex ratio is very different than what is reported in the National Census and NSS. The overall sex ratio works out to be 1020 females per thousand males (1017 in rural areas and 1041 in urban areas). The proportion of females in the age group 18 and above is higher i e 55.6 per cent as against 51.4 per cent in the case of males. The results are rather different from the prevailing pictures by the Census or the NSS.
where the interviewing is done mainly by men. One of the unique features of the present survey has been that the interview work was almost wholly done with the help of female interviewers.
Table 1. Sex Ratio By Broad Age Group, 1987
(Females per 1000 males)
|Above 18 Years||1100||1124||1104|
|Below 18 Years||928||957||932|
Table 2. Distribution of Literates and Earners By Broad Age Groups, 1987
|Age Group||Literacy Rate||Literacy Rate|
|Below 18 Year|
|18 Years and Above|
* Totals in all the tables include respondents who have not specified their rural-urban status.
Literacy The overall literacy rate works out to be 36.8 per cent. The literacy rate amongst females is 31.3 per cent as against 42.5 per cent amongst males. The gender disparity in literacy rate in urban areas is somewhat less marked than in the rural areas. In rural areas, the female literacy rate works out to be 30.6 per cent as against 42.4 per cent amongst males. The sex ratio for literates in rural areas is 734.
Workers : The sex ratio among workers as per our survey turns out to be rather favourable i e. 1009. This has to be interpreted with caution as it, by and large, probably represents the distress sale of labour compelled by the sheer urge to survive and manage a subsistence living.
Work force participation rates turn out to be highly depressed, i.e 39.5 only. Even in the age group 18 and above, these are barely 68.3 per cent. The disparity in male and female work participation rates in both rural and urban areas is marginal as the work participation rates for females are almost the same as for males.
incidence of child labour amongst females is much higher than in males in the age group 18 years and below, the number of female earners is as high as 6.9 as against 3.6 per cent in the case of males. However, in the age group 18 years and above, the proportion of male earners is much higher i e 71.9 per cent as against female earners 65.1 per cent. Even amongst the respondents, it is significant to note that, as many as 3.1 per cent of female workers are below 15 years of age.
Age specific distribution of female workers (respondents) shows that the highest number of female workers are engaged in the reproductive age group of 25-34 years. The proportion of female workers to total workers increases from 14.2 per cent in the age group 15-24 years to 37.0 per cent in the age group 25-34 years and thereafter it records a steep fall for the subsequent age groups. The respective percentages for the age groups 35-44 and 45-54 years are 28.7 and 12.1 respectively. At the figures for all activity groups and nature of employment are similar. This is highly undesirable as women are at the pack of their work only for a period of 10 years i e the age group of 25-34 years. This is the age group, in which the burden of performing the reproductive functions is the highest and under normal conditions, women may like to devote themselves to look after the children rather than seeking employment. Thus, the process of aging, particular with reference to employment starts too early and grows too fast in the case of women.
Table 3. Distribution of Female Workers (Respondents) By Broad Age Group, 1987:-
Educational Levels of Workers' The female workers are characterised by a very low level of education. On the whole, 61.6 per cent of female workers (respondents) were illiterate 12.5 per cent were literate but below primary school level 10.3 per cent were educated up to the primary level, 7.5 per cent were up to middle level and only 1.1 per cent were graduates and above.
Table 4. Distribution of Female Workers (Respondents) By Educational Level, 1987.
|Literate but below Primary||12.1||14.6||12.5|
|Primary but not middle||10.4||11. 0||10.3|
|Middle but below high school||7.4||8.2||75|
|High school but below graduate||6.6||8.6||7.0|
|Graduate and above||0.7||2.4||1.1|
A study of occupation/employment status-wise distribution of female workers (respondents) by their educational level shows that the illiteracy rate is somewhat higher among the female workers engaged in construction work (83.3 per cent in rural areas and 81.5 per cent in urban areas), followed by those engaged in collection of goods like fuel and fodder (74.4 per cent), agriculture (72.8 per cent), vendors and hawkers (64.2 per cent). The Incidence of illiteracy amongst rural female workers is far higher in rural areas than in the urban areas. Over all, literacy rate is the highest amongst those engaged in services (50.7 per cent), followed by those in crafts and manufacturing (47.7 per cent).
The incidence of illiteracy if analysed by the employment status of females, indicates that it is the highest among those who are working for exchange of goods and services in kind (71.9 per cent), followed by those working as wage labourers. Outside home (68.2 per cent), and unpaid family work (63.7 per cent). The female workers engaged on contract/piece-rate and paid work at home and independent work had better literacy rate (42.5 per cent and 41.7 per cent (respectively and enjoyed relatively higher educational standard than others.
Table 5. Literacy Amongst Female Workers (Respondents) By Broad Activity Group and Number of Employment, 1987.
|Crafts (Processing &||45.3||50.5||47.7|
|Collection of goods||21.7||27.7||23.6|
|Nature of Employment|
|Unpaid family work||34.7||44.7||36.3|
|Wage labour outside home||28.2||40.3||31.8|
|work at home|
|Exchange of goods and||27.3||29.7||28.1|
|services in kind|
Activity Status: The activity profile of poor female workers presents driving them to diverse occupations and various sub-activities within the same occupation. Even classified by broad occupational groups, on an average, a female worker is engaged in 1.73 activities or more. This proportion in rural areas is much higher i.e. 1.96 activities than in the urban areas, i.e., 1.45 activities.
A percentage distribution of activity responses show that the primary sector i.e. agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry put together account for 52.3 per cent of total activities, followed by crafts (processing and manufacturing) accounting for 18.6 per cent and services accounting for (15.4 per cent).
Table 6. Percentage Distribution of Responses on Activity Status of Female Workers (Respondents), 1987
|Rearing Live Stock||11.7||4.6||9.7|
|Crafts (Processing and|
|Collection of Goods||6.7||3.4||6.6|
Table 7. Proportion of Activity Responses to Total Female Workers (Respondents) 1987 Percentage of total female workers.
|Agriculture||Horticulture||Live Stock||Craft Processing and Manufacturing||Collection of Goods||Services||Vendor's
The extent of multiplicity of work performed by female workers can also be explained with the help of a comparative study of Tables 6 and 7. In Table 6, it can be seen that although agriculture claims only 38.3 per cent of the total responses, yet these responses as a percentage to total worker, swell to 65.9 per cent (Table 7). This percentage in rural areas is as high as 92.4 per cent. For other occupations this percentage gets inflated to 32.1 per cent in crafts processing and manufacturing (urban areas 42.7 and rural areas 25.1 per cent), 26.4 per cent in services (urban areas 41.2 and rural areas 22.6 per cent), 16.7 per cent in livestock/dairy (urban areas 6.7 per cent and rural areas 22.9 per cent), 6.2 per cent for vendors/hawkers (urban areas 11.2 per cent and rural areas 3.6 per cent) 6.1 per cent in construction work (urban areas 5.3 per cent and rural areas 6.7 per cent).
Information was also sought about the participation of female workers by minor activity group within the major categories of occupational classification. A large number of them have been engaged in more than one activity within the same occupational group. This was more common in agriculture. Within agriculture as a percentage to total responses in agriculture, the
proportion of female working in others' fields is as high as 41.3 per cent, followed by working in their own farm 38.6 per cent.
Among horticultural occupations, growing vegetables accounts for nearly 50 per cent responses recorded in horticulture followed by growing fruits by 25.4 per cent, growing flowers by 11.9 per cent.
Similarly, in rearing livestock, cattle/dairy accounts for 49.4 per cent of total responses recorded in livestock rearing, followed by poultry 23.2 per cent, piggary/goatary 18.0.
Among crafts (processing and manufacturing), food processing accounts for the largest number of responses claiming 26.3 per cent, followed by spinning and weaving 16.9 per cent, cane, bamboo and mat weaving 14.4 per cent.
Among collection of goods, fuel and fodder collection accounts for 78.4 per cent of total responses in this group of activities; followed by 11.5 per cent in collection of fruits, seeds, leaves etc.
Among female workers in services, domestic services accounts for 38.2 per cent to total female response in services occupations, followed by sweeping and scavenging (18.7 per cent) and washing (14.2 per cent).
Amongst vendors and hawkers, vegetable and fruit selling accounts for 37.8 per cent of responses in this group of occupation followed by selling of processed food, 11.9 per cent, selling of flowers 9.4 per cent and garments 8.8 per cent.
Amongst construction workers about 50 per cent of total responses are from building and road construction alone. Another 36.6 per cent are in quarrying and stone crushing. Brick-kiln accounts for 13.3 per cent of responses in this sector.
Table 8. Percentage Distribution of Activity Responses of Female Workers (Respondents) by Minor Activity Group, 1987
|Activity Group||Percentage Distribution|
|In other's field||41.3|
|Crafts (Processing & Manufacturing)|
|Paper and paper products||3.1|
|Embroidery/zari work/chikan/lace making/tailoring||2.1|
|Collection of Goods|
|Leaves (tendu, sal)||5.4|
|Other minor forest produce (gum, lace, katha, etc)||2.1|
|Paper and other waste material||1.9|
|Community health volunteers||3.0|
|Instructress (non-formal education)||9.2|
|Quarry workers/stone crusher||36.6|
Employment Status: The statistics relating to employment statistics of working females are startling. Under sheer force of compulsion and urge to survive, they are confronted with multiple employment status which varies from mainly unpaid family work to wage labour outside home and rendering of services in exchange of goods and services in kind. On the whole, wage labour constitutes the major source of employment. As a percentage to total responses on employment status, wage labour accounts for 33.6 per cent of total responses. It is followed by unpaid family work (29.8 per cent), independent work (24 4 per cent and contract and piece-rate work (88 per cent).
Table 9 Percentage Distribution of Responses on Employment Status, 1987
Nature of Employment
|Percentage Distribution of Responses|
|Unpaid family work||36.5||19.7||29.8|
|Wage labour outside home||30. 7||35.2||33.6|
|Contract/piece-rate paid work at home||6.1||16.2||8.8|
|Exchange of goods and services in kind||3.2||3.1||3.4|
There is a high degree of multiplicity in the nature of employment or employment status of female workers. Their employment varies from work (activity) to work and also within the same work (activity). A comparative study of Tables 9 and 10 clearly illustrate the incidence of multiplicity in the nature of employment of female workers. Although unpaid family work in rural areas claims 36.5 per cent to total responses, yet as percentage to total workers it increases to 71.6 per cent (Table 9). The incidence of unpaid family work in rural areas in much higher than in urban areas. As a percentage to total female -workers, the responses under unpaid family work accounts for 51.4 per cent of total female workers. In rural areas, this percentage is as high as 71.6 as against 28.6 in urban areas. The corresponding figures in wage labour outside home are 57.9 per cent (60.2 per cent rural areas and 50 0 per cent urban areas), followed by independent work 49.9 per cent.
The largest concentration of unpaid family workers have been found in agricultural groups followed by those in collection of goods, particularly fuel and fodder, followed by domestic services. As a percentage to total female workers, it can be seen that in rural areas over two-fifths of female workers are as unpaid family workers, about two-thirds are in wage labour outside the home Contract/piece-rate workers accounted for nearly one-sixth of the total female workers The incidence of contract/piece-rate workers is higher in urban areas (23.5 per cent) than rural areas (11.9 per cent). They are mostly engaged in food processing, spinning, weaving, tobacco processing, bidi-rolling, tanning, paper and paper products 49.9 per cent of the female workers are reported to be engaged as independent workers most of these are in
Table 10. Proportion of Responses on Employment Status to Total Female Workers, 1987
Nature of Employment
Percentage of total female workers (Respondents)
|Unpaid family work||71.6||28.6||51.4|
|Wage labour outside home||60.2||51.0||57.9|
|Contract/piece rate/paid work at home||11.9||23.5||15.1|
|Exchange of goods and services in kind||6.2||4.4||5.9|
Note: Percentage distribution exceeds 100 on account of multiplicity of responses.
fineries, sericulture, toy making and carpentry, food processing, collection of minor forest produce, rage-picking, vendors of utensils processed food, flowers and garments. Over 6 per cent of workers are engaged in exchange of goods and services of kind mainly in collection of fruits and seeds, tendu and sal leaves, etc. (The above proportions are with reference to total number of female workers and exceed 100 on account of the multiplicity of employment status of female workers).
Earnings: On average a female worker (respondent) earns Rs.1935 per annum (Rs. 1773 in rural areas and Rs. 2459 in urban areas) and the average annual income per family works out to be Rs. 4863 (Rs. 4638 in rural areas and Rs. 6268 in urban areas). The per capita income of family is thus, merely Rs. 916. In rural areas, it is as low as Rs. 866 and in urban areas as Rs. 1160. Rural urban differences in income are thus quite substantial.
A study of per capita income of family by nature of occupation reveals that the lowest per capita income is found among wage labourers working outside the home Rs. 836 (Rs. 738 in rural areas and Rs. 1089 in urban areas). The average per capita income of respondents engaged in independent work works out to be Rs. 920, and of those engaged in contract and piece-rate work at home as Rs. 975. On the whole, the per capita income among unprotected female workers in incredibly low. It works out to be considerably less than one third of the all India average figure of the per capita income.
Table 11. Average Earnings of Female Workers (Respondents) and Family, 1987
Average Income in Rs.
|Respondent||Family Share of Respondent Income in Family|
Table 12 Per Capita Income by Nature of Employment of Female Workers (Respondents) 1987
|Nature of Employment||Rural||Urban||Total|
|Unpaid family work||991||1063||957|
|Wage labour outside home||738||1092||806|
|Contract/piece rate/paid work at home||908||1062||975|
|Exchange of goods and services in kind||1005||1049||1018|
Share of Respondents income to Family Income. As many as 25 9 per cent of the female workers are the sole supporters of their families. Even with their low earning the contribution of an individual female workers to in the family income has been significant. About 36.7 per cent of female workers (respondents) have reported to be contributing over 50 per cent of the total family income and another 30 per cent contribute between 30 to 50 per cent of the family income. The average contribution of a single female workers (respondents) to the family income works out to be 40 per cent Per workers earnings in the case of females who sole supporters of a then families works out to Rs 3180 per annum.
Table 13. Share of Earnings of Female Workers (Respondents) in Family Income
|Contribution to Family Income||Percentage of Respondents|
|Average income of those contributing 100%||2991||3941||3180|
The study of percentage distribution of female workers (respondents) by broad income ranges presents an appalling picture. As many as 13 .5 per cent of female workers earned less than Rs 500 per annum. Another 27. 8 per cent earned below Rs 1000 per annum, i e, 41.3 per cent earned less than Rs 1000 per annum. About 85 per cent earned less than Rs 3000 per annum i e half of the existing ceiling prescribed for classifying a family below the poverty line. The situation improves only marginally by adding the earnings of all the family members, as 77.1 per cent of the families still earn below Rs 5000 per annum.
Table 14. Percentage Distribution of Female Workers (Respondents) by Broad Income Ranges, 1987
|Income Ranges||Respondents Income||Family Income|
|Upto Rs 500||15.2||8.6||13.5||2.7||2.0||2.9|
|Rs. 5000+ above||3.7||7.7||5.1||21.3||34.8||23.5|
Multiple Activity Status On account of high incidence of casualisation, intermittency of work and erratic availability of work, a sizeable number of female workers need to take up multiple occupation to be able to take out a living. The incidence of multiplicity of activities (takes into account the multiplicity of their employment status between and within various broad activity groups) works out to be as high as 4.2 per female worker, i.e on an average a female worker is engaged in 4 2 activities. The incidence is highest in rearing livestocks where average number of activities per worker works out to be 5.5. The corresponding figures for those engaged in agriculture and services are 4.7 and 4.4 respectively. This incidence of multiplicity of activities is rather low among those engaged in construction work (3.26) and vending (3.27).
Even considering the broad categories of activities, the incidence of multiplicity of work among female workers works out to be as high as 1.7 activities per worker it is significant to note that the multiplicity of activities status among female workers is much higher within the same broad activity group than between various activity groups. A study of incidence of multiplicity of activity by broad activity group reveals that as many as 33 per cent of females have reported to be engaged in multiple occupations ranging from two occupations to four or more. The percentage of females reported to be taking up more than four activities in their fight to support themselves and their families is 7.4. The incidence of multiplicity of activities is higher in rural areas than in urban areas in rural areas, as many as 40 per cent of female workers (respondents) were engaged in more than one activities. Nearly one-fifth of these were engaged in two main activities and another 11 per cent in more than four main activities.
Perception of Work: Over 71 per cent of respondents considered themselves as workers 14.4 per cent categorically described their status as non-workers and another 144 per cent abstained from expressing their views. Interestingly, the proportion of respondents perceiving themselves as workers was greater among the Scheduled Castes than in the other communities. Again, self perception of respondents as workers is much higher in urban areas than in the rural areas. Among the Scheduled Castes in urban areas, the number of respondents regarding themselves as workers is as high as 80.9 per cent.
Table 15. Incidence of Multiplicity of Activity By Broad Activity Groups, 1987.
|Activity Group||Average No of Activities per workers|
|Collection of Goods||3.58|
Table 16. Distribution of Female Workers (Respondents) by Multiple Activities, 1987.
Numbers of Activities Engaged in
|One Activity only||Two Activities||Three Activities||Four Activities||More than four activities||Total|
Table 17 Perception of Work by Respondent by Caste
|Scheduled Castes||Scheduled Tribes||Other Backward Classes||Others||Total|
Participation in Local Organisations: The participation of poor female workers in organisations like Mahila Mandals, Cooperative Societies, Panchayats, Labour Unions is rather commendable. As many as 63.7 per cent of female workers are members of some other organisations. The proportion of female workers availing of such membership is the highest amongst those engaged in construction work (73.7 per cent), followed by those engaged in collection of goods (70.8 per cent) and services (66.8 per cent). As for employment status, females engaged in or wage labour outside home, appears to be more willing to become member of local organisations. The total number of females availing of such facilities in this group was 68.4 per cent followed by those engaged in exchange of goods (67.0 per cent) and contract/piece-rate paid work at home (66.9 per cent). The high responses recorded in availing of membership of some or the other organisation in the survey can be attributed to the fact that the interviewers were largely drawn from voluntary organisations and for reasons of expediency they profound to approach to the members of their organisation.
Table 18. Participation of Female Workers (Respondents) in Local and Other Organisations by Broad Activity Group and Nature of Employment, 1987.
|Percentage of Female Workers (Respondents)|
|Nature of Activity|
|3. Rearing Livestock||65.3||63.0||65.9|
|4. Crafts (Processing & Manufacturing)||62.9||72.2||66.1|
|5. Collection of Goods||66.9||71.6||70.8|
|8. Construction Workers||70.3||78.9||73.5|
|Nature of Employment|
|1. Unpaid Family Work||65.5||74.8||66.7|
|2. Wage Labour Outside Home||69.5||70.1||68.4|
|3. Contract/Piece-rate/Paid Work at Home||61.0||71.2||66.9|
|4. Independent Work||58.9||71.9||64.6|
|5. Exchange of Goods and Services in Kind||63.2||75.2||67.0|
The problems the poor female workers are socially and economically unprotected in their varying work situations. They are confronted with a wide range of problems from various groups and vested interests. Classifying these problems in broad groups, from an open ended questionnaire particularly when the respondents have listed numerous issues and problems running into several pages, has not been an easy task. To cluster these into water-tight categories can hardly do justice to the sensitivity of the responses and represent the reality in
its true spirit. The Present analysis of the problems faced by the poor women suffers from this limitation.
On the basis of the responses received (from the respondents), the problems faced by the female workers during the cause of their work, are grouped under three major heads viz., (i) problems specific to wage employment, (ii) problems relating to women employed in non-wage sector, (iii) general problems common to both the wage and non-wage sector.
Problems Specific to Wage Employment: Out of a total of 61,039 responses recorded as many as 50.7 per cent to low wages (below subsistence level). This is followed by irregular employment/uncertainty/seasonal or discretionary employment (41.2 per cent), and malpractices in payment (9.1 per cent). The various forms in which malpractices have been reported include non-payment of wages on time, signatures on false amount, commission charged while making payment and even while providing employment and payment in kind (only subsistence and inferior goods are made available).
The relative incidence of irregular employment was found highest in agriculture (49.5 per cent), followed by construction work (46.1 per cent), and collection of goods (42.7 per cent).
Table 19 Percentage Distribution of Problems Faced by Female Workers (Respondents) by Nature of Activity 1987
|Agriculture||Horticulture||Rearing live stock||Crafts processing and manufacturing||Collection of goods||Services||Vendors Hawker||Construction workers||Total|
|Lack of access to raw material & capital goods||63.6||57.5||568||48.5||58.9||51.6||25.4||41.7||52.3|
|Credit from official sources|
|Credit from non-official sources||0.7||0.4||0.5||0.6||60.6||0.8||1.7||1.7||0.7|
|Personal & health||39.5||36.2||36.3||37.9||43.4||44.4||38.5||45.0||38.7|
|Exploitation & harassment by family/husband/- employer||16.2||9.5||8.0||16.5||13.9||19.0||15.0||21.0||16.1|
|Lack of educational guidance and training facilities||11.3||13.5||14.0||13.0||8.4||7.4||4.2||3.5||10.9|
|Alcoholism tack of access on earnings||3.1||2.4||2.9||2.3||4.0||3.9||4.6||3.3||4.2|
|Lack of social security||2.7||5.9||3.2||2.3||2.5||4.0||2.7||2.9||2.8|
Problems Specific to Non-Wage Employment: Out of a total number of 41.305 responses recorded, as many as 52.3 per cent pertain to lack of access to raw material and capital goods including poor quality/insufficient/non-availability/irregular supply of raw materials, exorbitant prices and lack of storage facilities. This is followed by the problems relating to marketing (26.8 per cent) and problems relating to credit (18 per cent). Problems relating to marketing include lack of proper storage facilities, problems relating to transportation and distance, harassment; non-availability of markets or saturated markets, low and uneconomic selling price, cheating by middlemen/contractors, in weighing, measurement and counting, irregular/seasonal market, lack of facilities for product design, difficulties in obtaining license and space for vending at market centres, high rent for hiring space or shops for vending/selling etc.
Problems relating to credit from official sources include highly time consuming/ procedural formalities, difficulties in arranging, surety and security, malpractices and corruption in granting credit, insufficient and non-availability of credit and even lack of information about the availability of credit from various sources. Problems relating to credit from non-official sources are mainly exorbitant rates of interest charged and malpractices while providing credit and realising the payments.
In agriculture, lack of access to raw materials, tools and implements accounts for a high percentage, i.e. 63.6 per cent of the total problems recorded in the case of activities under collection of goods, this percentage is as high as 58.9, and in horticulture it is 57.5 per cent.
Relatively speaking, problems related to marketing have been more acute amongst vendors and hawkers In their case, marketing accounts for 55.2 per cent of the total problems recorded. Their marketing problems mainly include non-availability of space/shop for selling and the insecurity associated with this rather than lack of demand for their products. In crafts (processing and manufacturing) the problems relating to marketing account for 35.3 per cent of the total problems recorded.
General Problems: General problems common both to wage and non-wage employment include (a) exploitation and harassment by family members, employers, contractors, officials and the community during the course of their work, (b) child care, health and allied problems including non-availability of creches, improper working conditions, lack of sanitation, lack of medical facilities, (c) lack of education, training, organisation and guidance facilities, (d) lack of access to own earnings and misuse of earnings by husbands, alcoholism of husband, absence of maternity benefits, medical benefits' compensation for injury, absence of provident fund, pension and insurance etc.
Out of a total of 1, 41, 260 responses recorded as general problems the problems relating to health, sanitation and child care account for the largest share (38.7 per cent). This is followed by problems relating to exploitation and harassment by family members including the husband and employer (16.1 per cent), problems of lack of education, training and guidance facilities (10.9 per cent), problems of alcoholism of husband and lack of access to their own earnings (4.2 per cent). The incidence of alcoholism among vendors and hawkers appears to be the highest.
In construction work, the percentage share of total responses recorded under personal and health problems is the highest, i.e 45.0 per cent.
It may be noted that the responses recorded under lack of social security benefits like maternity benefits and sick leave etc. are low, accounting for only 2.9 per cent of total responses. This probably shows lack of awareness amongst the poor labouring women about the availability or necessity of such facilities for them.
Other problems constituting about 26.4 per cent of the total responses recorded under the general group include mainly absence of assets including land and housing, continued drought and famine situations and occupational health hazards.
The problems faced by the poor working women are thus the reflection of their socio-economic milieu which generates all kinds of odds against them in their struggle for a living. The longer this situation persists, the longer will it take the nation to break the shackles of poverty and under-development.
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON SELF-EMPLOYED WOMEN
The Commission intends to generate as much data as possible regarding work status of poor women. Hence please obtain the information, as required in the enclosed questionnaire, from as many poor women as possible in your neighbourhood, village, town or city.
The Commission hopes to receive active cooperation and support from the voluntary agencies, educational institutions, trade unions, social workers, media personnel and individuals in both governmental and nongovernmental organisations in its national effort to generate this important data.
The agencies/individuals collecting this information are also requested to bring to the notice of the poor women, particularly the respondents of the questionnaire, that this Commission has been set up to look into the problems of poor working women.
Filled in Questionnaires should be sent to Smt. Ela R. Bhatt. M.P; Chairperson, National Commission on Self-Employed Women New Delhi 110001. 365