Shramshakti (1988): Report of the National Commission on self employed women and women in the informal sector||
The demographic and economic statistics on women in the unorganized and self-employed sector present a rather dismal picture. The data available from various agencies like the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, the National Sample Survey Organisation, Departments of Health, Education, Industries and the Directorate General of Employment & Training, give some idea of the shocking deprivation of women. The gender discrimination is clearly evident from the comparative figures for males and females i.e. on sex ratios, birth and death rates, incidence of illness and malnutrition, child marriage, access to education, migration, urbanisation, work force participation rates and structure of work force.
2. The National Commission on Self-Employed Women, commissioned, inter alia, two studies viz. (i) "Macro Level Changes in Women's Economic Position" by Banerjee and (ii) "Women in the Labour Force: Analysis of NSS Data by Kalpagam," to identify the current status of labouring women. Kalpagam analysis of NSS Data are based on the first two Rounds of NSS. Banerjee submitted two studies viz. (i) "Macro Level Changes in Women's Economic Position", 1987, and (ii) "Some Recent Trends in the Economic Activities of Indian Women", 1988. Some salient features of these studies as well as either data as available from various official and non-official sources on the related aspects are presented as follows.
I. Demographic Profile
Gender Imbalances (Sex Ratio):
3. The first instance of gender imbalance is the sex ratio itself. The sex ratio—defined as the number of females per 1000 males—continues to be highly unfavourable to females. In the 1981 Census, the overall sex ratio works out to 933 (951 in rural areas and 878 in urban areas).
Table 1. Sex Ratio (number of females per 1000 males)
Source: Census of India 1981, Series-1, India, Part-ll-Special, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner for India p, 23.
4. It is disturbing to note that the age-specific sex ratio declines sharply with the increase in the age group. It may be noted that the sex ratio in the age group 0-4 years is 975. It declines to 940 in the age group 5-9 years and to 896 in the 10-14 years. The adverse sex ratio in these age groups is mainly because of the high incidence of mortality amongst females. Demographers and social scientists attribute this mainly to social discrimination and neglect of females in the matter of health care. The phenomenon of adverse sex ratio is peculiar to India and a few other developing countries. In most other countries the sex ratio is invariably favourable to females.
5. A highly pronounced rural-urban disparity in the sex ratio, as evident from the 1981 Census figures, also points to the differential attitudes and treatment to which women are subjected to. They are more confined to rural areas than the males. Rural-urban gender disparities get more pronounced in the upper age groups. In the age group of 0-4 years, the sex ratio for rural areas is 977 against 967 in urban areas. In the age group 20-24 years this widens to 1028 in rural areas, and 861 in urban areas. Again, in the age group 25-29 years the sex ratio is 1006 for rural areas, and 883 for urban areas. The existence of a very low sex ratio in metropolitan cities and urban areas on account of high incidence of male migration to urban areas and also due to sharp fall in death rates in urban areas clearly indicates relatively less access of women to urban areas. It is a pointer to their weak position in taking advantage of modernisation and development which is concentrated in urban areas.
Table 2. Sex Ratio by Broad Age Groups 1981 (females per 1000 males)
|Source: Based on Census of India 1981, Series-1, India, Part-ll-Special, p. 23.|
Incidence of Female Mortality:
6. The discrimination against females, is clearly borne out by the fact that though females are universally acknowledged to be biologically stronger than males, in India, female mortality rates are generally higher than that of males The infant mortality rate is overall 115 for females and 113 for males The figures for rural areas are 142 for females and 130 for males and in urban areas 71 for females and 69 for males1 As a UNICEF study observes "If female infants die at a faster rate than male infants, despite their biologically superior strength, the inference is that social neglect of female health is deeply entrenched"2' A study of attendance of patients at a Primary Health Centre, in Haryana lends support to this observation It was found that the percentage of male children receiving treatment was 76.8 as against 23.2 in the case of female children it was also observed that often in the case of daughters, parents abstained from taking medicines and visiting dispensaries as they commonly believed that their daughters would recover on their own. A doctor poignantly commented, "People neglect daughter's treatment For son, people take loan, sell land and spend thousands of rupees to save his life But for daughter, even Rs 50/ becomes too much "3
|Table 3: Infant Mortality Rate||Number of deaths per 1000 persons|
Source Seventh Five Year Plan, 1985, p 324
7. A study of the percentage distribution of deaths by broad age groups, as recorded in the Survey of Causes of Deaths (Rural-1985), indicates that nearly one sixth of the total female deaths occur in the age group of one year or less 4 The high incidence of infant mortality is attributed, inter alia, to factors like low rates of female literacy and early marriage The statistics show that the incidence of infant deaths drop significantly with the educational level of mother and with the increase in the age of marriage
Table 4: Percentage Distribution of Deaths by Broad Age Groups, 1985 (Rural)
|Below one year||15.9||16.9|
Source Survey of Causes of Death (Rural) Annual Report, 1985, Office of the Registrar General, India, 1987, p 22
8. Females in the age group 0-4 years, account for as many as 27 per cent of the total female deaths as against 23 per cent of deaths in the case of males The overall rural-urban combined female death rate in the age group of 0-4 years is as high as 43.5 as against 40.1 in the males. In rural areas, the female death rate in this age group is 48.1 as against 44.2 in the males.
Table 5. Age-specific Death Rates, 1982
Source: Vital Statistics of India. 1982, Office of the Registrar General, India, pp. 28-29.
9. The relative incidence of deaths amongst females continues to remain higher than of males in all the age groups up to the age of 34 years. Thereafter, it becomes lower for the females than for males. An interesting inference that can be drawn from the study of sex and age-specific death rates by rural and urban areas, is that while in rural areas, the death rates for the females continues to remain higher than of the males for all the age groups till the age of 34 years, in urban areas the female death rates remain higher than of the males only up to the age of 9 years. Thereafter, the age-specific females death rates are lower than of males. Urbanisation, thus, appears to have some positive impact in reducing female death rates.5
Maternal Mortality and Health Status:
10. Notwithstanding the sizeable expansion in health facilities in the country, particularly during the post independence period, the maternal mortality rate continues to be as high as 418 per lakh live births 6 as against a negligible figure in the advanced countries. Even today, in rural areas over 70 per cent births are attended by untrained dais. In states like Rajasthan, this figure is as high as 89.9 per cent. The crude birth rate is still as high as 35.3 in rural areas and 29.4 in urban areas.7 Other factors responsible for high incidence of maternal mortality include maternal ill health, malnutrition, anaemia and frequent births. There are over 140 million women suffering from malnutrition. The incidence of anaemia among rural women is as high as 80 per cent, leading to the low birth weight of babies.8 It is estimated that on an average a rural female gets pregnant about six to eight times in her lifetime, spends about sixteen years in pregnancies and lactation and gives birth to more than six children, of whom about four survive. About 70 per cent of births in rural areas take place in the age group of 20-29 years. The general fertility rate continues to be as high as 153.1 births (per 1000 women in the age group 15-59) In rural areas and 120.2 births in urban areas In a state like Rajasthan these figures are as high as 187 in rural areas and 152 in urban areas The total fertility rate (i.e. average number of children born alive to a woman in her reproductive span of 15-59 years) for all-India works out to be 4.8 births in rural areas and 3.5 births in urban areas in states like U P , Bihar, Rajasthan, the total fertility rate in rural areas exceeds an average of six births a woman 9
11. Life expectancy among women continues to remain lower than that of men, although in all the developed countries women outlive men. In 1980, the life expectancy among males was reported as 52.5 years and females as 52.1 years
Table 6: Expectation of life at Birth
Source (i) Central Statistical Organisation, Statistical Abstract, 1985, p 31
(ii) Census of India. Occasional Paper No 1 of 1985, SRS based Abridged Life Tables 1976-80, p 31
12 The incidence of child marriage amongst females, as revealed in the 1981 Census, is much higher than in the males. As many as 6.6 percent of the total females in the age group of 10-14 years are reported as married as against 2.6 per cent of males. Again this incidence is higher in rural areas (7.8 per cent in females and 3.1 per cent in males) than in urban areas (2.2 per cent in females and 1.0 per cent in males). In states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar
Table 7: Percentage Distribution of Population by Marital Status and Age Groups
|Currently married||widower||Currently married||widow|
|Source Census of India, 1981, Series-1 India, Part-ll-Special p 33|
Pradesh and Bihar the percentage of females married in the age group of 10-14 is more than 10 per cent. This proportion is negligible in Kerala and Tamil Nadu In the age group 15-44, the proportion of married females is 80.5 per cent. It again varies from 60.7 per cent in Kerala to 88 6 per cent in Bihar.10 In all the age groups, the percentage of the widowed is much higher among females than in the males. Upto the age of 29, the incidence of the widowed amongst females is nearly twice that of males in the subsequent age groups i.e. 30 years and above, the gender disparity in the incidence of the widowed becomes three-folds or more The mean age at marriage for females is much lower i.e., 18.3 years, than of the males that is 23.3 years. It is highest in Kerala that is 22.0 years for females and 27.2 years for males11
13. The high incidence of illiteracy amongst females constitutes one of the greatest barriers to their development it limits their scope of employment, training, utilisation of health facilities and exercise of legal and constitutional rights There are scores of studies which show the positive correlations of female literacy with socio-economic and demographic indices. In a recent study of the Census data, Sharma and Retherford (1987) have listed several such positive correlations. Some of these are (i) "female literacy is strongly and positively related with mean age at marriage", (ii) "female literacy rate is moderately and positively related with female employment in non-agricultural and non-household industry", (iii) "female literacy is strongly and negatively related with (a) infant mortality rate, (b) per cent married females aged 15-44, (c) crude birth rate, and (d) total fertility rate" (Occasional Paper No 1 of 1987, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India 44) Despite high priority attached to education in our plans, the study observes that the increase in literacy rate has not been "fast enough to keep illiterates from increasing in absolute number" The number of female illiterates has been increasing at a faster pace than of the males 12
14. The Seventh Plan document observes that "nearly 73 per cent total non-enrolled children in the 6-11 years age group were girls."13 The all-India female literacy rate, according to the 1981 Census is barely 248 per cent as against 46.9 per cent for males. During the post-independence period, the total number of illiterate women in absolute number has
|Table 8: Literacy in India, 1901-1981|
Percentage of Literates to total population
Source (i) Census of India 1981, Series-1, India Paper 2 of 1983, p 15
(ii) Sharma O P & Retherford Robert D, Recent Literacy Trends in India, Census of India, Occasional Paper No 1 of 1987, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, pp 7, 16
increased from 161.9 million in 1951 to a staggering figure of 241.6 million in 1981. The sex ratio of illiterates has gone up from 1138 in 1951 to 1322 in 1981.
Table 9: Literacy rate and Enrolment Ratios 1981
|Educational Level/ Age Group||Male||Female||Male||Female|
|Percentage of schoolgoing children|
|Age group 5-9||39.6||25.8||61.7||55.6|
|Age group 10-14||57.8||29.2||77.0||65.6|
|Source: Census of India, 1981 Series-1, India Part-ll-Special, PP. 78, 92|
15. In the rural areas gender disparities in the literacy rates, are greater than in the urban areas. It is also observed that the gender differences in literacy rates tend to diminish with urbanisation as inter and intra regional disparities in female literacy rates are far higher in rural areas than in urban areas, in rural areas, the female literacy rates range from 1.6 per cent in Jaisalmar district in Rajasthan to 79.0 per cent in Kottayam district in Kerala. There are several rural areas where the female literacy rate amongst the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is near zero. Nearly one-third of the total districts in the country have rural female literacy rates of around 10 per cent or less. In states like Rajasthan, all the 26 districts have rural female literacy rates around 5 per cent or less. In Madhya Pradesh 29 out of 45 districts (i.e. 64 per cent of total number of districts) have rural female literacy rates of less than 10 per cent. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, about 50 per cent of the districts have rural female literacy rates of less than 10 per cent. The percentage of non-enrolled female children in the age group of 5 to 14 years in rural areas is still as high as over 70 per cent.14
Table 10: Enrolment Ratio amongst Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 1985
Source: Based on Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, Selected Educational Statistics, pp. 42-49. 1985-86.
16. Both qualitatively and quantitatively, women's access to education is far less than men's. The crude enrolment ratios for females are much lower than the males. Their relative share falls sharply as one moves from the primary to the middle and higher levels of education. This sets up a chain effect, adversely influencing their status and opportunities for
|Table 11: Age Specific Literacy Rate. 1981|
|Age Group||Literacy Rate|
Source: Sharma O.P. & Retherford R.D., 1987, op. ct., p. 11.
employment and training in general.
17. The education specific gender disparities are more pronounced amongst the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The sex ratio at primary/middle and higher secondary levels amongst the Scheduled Castes are 595, 426 and 246 respectively and amongst the Scheduled Tribes as 576, 436 and 248 respectively15. For all communities, the sex ratio at the primary stage is 671. This declines to 455 at the high'and higher secondary stage and further to 331 at the degree and above levels.
18. The enrolment of women in vocational and professional courses continues to be very low. Although women are making some entry in this field, they are generally confined to the
Table 12: Sex-Ratio by Educational Level, 1985
|(Enrolment in '000)|
|Educational Level||Boys||Girls||Sex Ratio|
|Pre-University Intermediate Pre-degree||1382||482||349|
|Teachers Training School||47||51||1085|
|Technical and Industrial Arts and Craft School||217||66||304|
|B.Ed., B.Sc. (Engg.), B.Arch.||135||9||66|
Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, Selected Educational Statistics, 1985-86, pp. 16-30.
teacher training courses. The sex ratio in teacher training schools is as high as 1085. At B.Ed./B.T. level it is 771. The sex ratios in polytechniques and in M.Com. are barely 107 and 222 respectively. Female enrolment in technical and industrial arts and craft schools is rather low as is evident from the low sex ratio, i.e. 304.
19. The slow growth of literacy, rate particularly amongst females is a highly disturbing phenomenon. Sharma and Retherford have projected, at the existing rate, it may take about seven decades or more for the country to reach the goal of full literacy or universalisation of education in the age group of 5-14 years. Some states like Kerala may reach this goal in 1.5 decades while other like Rajasthan may require more than a century. Urban areas may take about 5.5 decades and rural areas over 9 decades to reach "full literacy". At the current rate, in the case of females, universal literacy is not likely to be reached before nine decades and states like Rajashtan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh may take anything from 14 to 25 decades16
20. Women's plight is further affected by migration which is often thrust upon them by a host of social and cultural factors. The incidence of migration among the females (within the country) is far greater than among the males. According to the 1981 Census, out of the total of 201.8 million migrants, the number of female migrants was as high as 141.8 million. The percentage of migrants among the males was only 180 per cent, as against 44.2 per cent amongst the females The migration amongst females is largely confined within the district whereas the proportion of males migrating outside the districts as well as the state is relatively much higher than the females. As many as 65.1 per cent of females migrated within the districts of their birth as against 46.0 per cent of males. The proportion of migrants who migrated to other districts of the state amongst males is 28.8 per cent as against 23 4 per cent amongst females. The main cause of migration amongst females is marriage (73.3 per cent) Only about three per cent of females have reported employment and education as the main cause of migration
2.1 The flow of migration consists of four streams, viz. rural to urban, urban to rural and
|Shifting of families||18.2||20.2||13.2||14.0||5.0||6.2|
Source- Census of India, 1981, Series-1, India, Part-ll, Special, op. cit., pp. 250-251.
urban to urban. Out of a total of 129.5 million female infra state migration, 76.6 per cent was rural to rural, 7.1 per cent urban to urban, 10.9 per cent rural to urban and 5.2 per cent urban to rural The inter state migration amongst females was of the order of 12.5 million Out of these 37.6 per cent migrated within the rural areas, 28.1 per cent urban to urban, 25.9 per cent rural to urban and 7.6 per cent urban to rural. During 1971-81 the rural migration declined, whereas, urban to urban and rural to urban gained significant increase. Thus during 1971-81, there has been a downward shift in the case of rural to rural migration and an upward shift in rural to urban and urban to urban migration
Table 14: Distribution of Migrants Reporting Employment as Reason for Migration by Worker status, 1981 (Figures in million)
|Main workers||19.0||17.8||1 .2|
|Marginal workers||0.2||0.1||0. 1|
|Seeking/Available for work||0.4||0.3||0.1|
Source Census of India, 1981, Series-l, India, Part-ll Special, op cit, pp 74
22. A study of the existing work status of migrants, who reported employment as the main reason for migration, shows that women are far worse placed than men Out of a total of 22.2 million persons reporting employment as the main reason for migration, only 2.7 million persons i.e., 12.6 per cent were females, the rest, i.e., 19.4 million, were males. Again among the female migrant workers reporting employment as the main reason for migration, only 43.9 per cent were main workers, 3.6 per cent were marginal workers and the rest i.e., 52.5 per cent were non-workers. The corresponding figures for male migrant workers are 91 3, 0 7 and 8.0 per cent respectively.
II. Economic Profile
Concepts and Data Base
23 The conceptual and data base pertaining to the economic profile of the socially unprotected workers forms the weakest link in labour Statistics. The conventional classification of workers and their contribution to the economy reduces the poor labouring women as marginal workers with little contribution to the national economy and thus reduces them into total invisibility.
24 Broadly speaking, the unprotected workers include all those who are outside the pale of the organised sector. By the nature of their activities, they can be classified under the following broad categories —
(i) Home-based producers including artisans and piece-rate workers, paid and unpaid family labourers,
(ii) Petty vendors and hawkers who do not hire labour but take the assistance of family members;
(iii) Contract labour and sub-contract labour;
(iv) Providers of services like washer-women, scavengers, domestic helpers;
(v) Women engaged in processing work in traditional and non-traditional areas;
(vi) Those doing manual work like construction labour and those working in agriculture and other primary sectors.
On the basis of the employment status, the aforesaid groups can be classified under three broad categories viz.:
(ii) Wage earners working outside homes (agricultural workers, construction workers, contract and sub-contract workers etc.) and inside homes (home based workers working on putting out basis), and
(iii) Unpaid family helpers.
25. The scanty data available on the unprotected worker is mainly drawn from the Census, the National Sample Survey Organisation, Central and State Government departments, various Boards/Commissions, the Handloom and Handicraft Board, the Fisheries Board, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, reports of semi government and semi official agencies and sectoral and micro level studies conducted by scholars.
26. The data on workers from various Central and State Government departments, semi-governments and official agencies is frequently incomplete and lacking in details. It also
As a plantation worker, her wages are low & discriminatory.
does not give separate information about female workers The micro level studies do throw some useful light on the working and living conditions of female workers but these studies are seldom carried out on a regular basis
27. Both the major sources of data, the Census of India and the NSSO differ in their approach in measuring the work force in the Census enquiries of 1971 and 1981, a person who has worked for major part of the year (not less than 183 days) is regarded as a main worker, and if the person has worked for a fewer number of days, he/she is regarded as a marginal worker The NSSO, on the other hand, has a more elaborate categorisation It defines three distinct working statuses viz, usual status, current weekly status and current daily status comprising 22 activity categories (from 01 to 99), where 01-71 are for workers (01-51 for usual status and 61-71 for current status), 81-82 are for those seeking and/or available for work (unemployed), and 91-99 are for those not in labour force The NSS categorisation makes it possible to assess the employment status of workers in various categories like self-employed casual workers, family helpers, regular salaried workers, and unemployed 17
28. Under usual status the reference period of ascertaining one's working status covers 365 days preceding the date of survey whereas under the current weekly status the reference period covers seven days preceding the date of survey and the current daily status is with reference to each day of the seven days preceding the date of survey The disparity between the usual and current daily status gives an idea about the intensity of employment in the present analysis the concepts and terms as adopted by the official agencies like the Census and the NSSO have been retained
Women as Workers
29. Poor women are invisible workers The invisibility is thrust upon them by confining them to the so called subordinate roles The statistics thus collected, even by the official agencies, largely categorizes them as non-workers They are classed as the weaker sex, confined to strenuous and monotonous work and withdraw voluntarily from the labour force as and when the situation so demands18
30. The accounting of females as workers in the Census and the NSSO suffers from serious enumerational and reporting drawbacks According to Mitra,9 the under-reporting of female work force participation rates in the Census varies from 30 to 40 per cent He estimates that the participation of females in the informal sector is as high as 49 per cent as against 15 to 17 per cent in the case of males Jain and Chand20 find that the measurement of female labour force participation and analysis suffer from gross "under enumeration, inadequate attention to unpaid family labour, own production and household work and relationship between them "There are poor conceptualizations of female work styles, mistaken perception of females economic roles by respondents and interviewers ." The statistical information is generally collected through male interviewers
31. In the 1981 Census, the work force participation rate amongst females' was barely 14.0 per cent (main workers) as against 51.6 per cent amongst males The NSSO Thirty Eighth Round (1983) records female work force participation rate on a higher side i.e., as 21.9 percent in the case of main workers and 29.6 per cent with main and marginal workers
32. The activity profile of poor female workers presents a complex picture Poor female workers, on account of the high incidence of casualisation, intermittency of work and erratic availability of work are generally engaged in a multiplicity of activities Along with the multiplicity of activities, they are confronted with multiple employment status which varies from unpaid family work to wage labour outside the home, contract/piece rate work, independent work and rendering of services in exchange of goods and services
33. There are a number of studies to show that women work for longer hours and contribute more than men in terms of total labour energy spent by the household members On account of deeply entrenched social customs, taboos and prejudices, women's work continues to be invisible and confined more to non-monetary activities "It has been observed that the average hours of unpaid work done by married women outside the home varied from 6 13 to 7 53 hours per day, some of them working more than 10 hours each day Apart from domestic duties, women engaged in agricultural operations work on an average about 12 hours on the farm and in taking care of cattle at home "21
34. The female labour force is further characterised by poor occupational diversification According to the 1981 Census as many as 79 4 per cent of female workers are engaged in agricultural activities mainly as agricultural labourers in rural areas other activities in which women are mainly concentrated include livestock production, fisheries, forestry and in household industries in urban areas, the household industries and other service sector account for the largest proportion of women workers They are mainly concentrated in traditional occupations
35. Again as workers, an overwhelming proportion of women i.e., 93 per cent or more, are engaged in the unorganised informal sector mainly as self-employed, wage garners, non-wage or casual workers Female workers suffer from high incidence of casualisation The incidence of casual wage earners in agricultural and construction work amongst females, ranges, from 75 per cent to 96 per cent of the total female wage earners The wage offered to them for the same work is generally one half or less than that of males 22 As a self-employed worker they work for longer hours with little or no fixed capital or working capital having no fixed place to work, vending in open space with no protection from existing labour legislations
Contribution to Family income
36. There are a host of conceptual and methodological problems involved in measuring the economic contribution of women The data in this sphere is inadequate and grossly under-estimate their contribution to family income Poor women are mainly engaged as self-employed workers largely in home-based activities where their work at home intermixes with their household duties and the productivity of their work as well as their status as worker is invisible Women are undoubtedly engaged in several activities which add to household incomes but are totally outside the sphere of the market economy There are numerous activities like free collection of fodder and fuel, maintaining of dairy, poultry and animals, vegetable growing, food processing, sewing, weaving etc in which women are engaged and increase the "household's command over the necessities" The household would have to spend a lot of money in procuring these services, if they were not rendered by women
37. The NSSO activity code 93 enumerates persons who are outside the conventional labour force and work on operations which increase the household command over necessities The activities include domestic duties along with free collection of goods like vegetables, roots, firewood and cattle feed, sewing, tailoring, weaving for household use and fetching water, poultry, maintenance of kitchen garden if the proportion of women engaged in these activities is added to the conventional workforce participation rate, the extended workforce participation rate of women increases markedly and gets much closer to that of males Unfortunately, there is hardly any exercise to measure the monetary contribution of various activities carried out by females in activity category 93
38. An analysis of variables influencing women's participation in domestic duties along with free collection of goods for household as made by Geeta and Charanjeet Singh is highly revealing23 They find that women's involvement in these activities is positively related to their access to assets. The overall relationship between possession of land and proportion of women participating in activity category 93 is somewhat inverted 'U' shaped. The participation of women in these home-based activities increases as the size of land holding increases and it is only when the size of land holdings exceeds 7.5 acres, it starts flagging. The participation of women engaged in free collection of goods like firewood, fodder declines sharply as the size of family land holdings increases and the participation in activities like dairying, poultry, sewing increases as the household asset level increases.
39. It is clear that the high proportion of women engaged in activity category 93 is mainly because these activities provide the opportunity for combining household duties with productive work. Under the present socio-cultural pressures women are burdened with heavy domestic duties and child care. A large majority of them try to add something to the family's real income by engaging themselves in market oriented or non-market oriented household activities. The heavy burden on women in self-employment under activity category 93 is a convenient way of coping with the shortage of job opportunities and mounting household duties.
40. The quantitative contribution of poor females to their family income is not only highly significant but the qualitative contribution is also of immense value to their families. Unlike the males who spend a portion of their earnings on themselves, the poor female workers hardly spend anything on themselves. Their entire earnings are spend on the up-bringing and the betterment of the family members.24
Contribution to National Income:
41. The National Income Statistics of the CSO do not provide information on factor income in terms of average compensation paid to employees in different sectors of economy
She is involved in various processes of fishing industry.
for males and females separately. Some estimates about the contribution of females to the national income can be arrived at on the basis of the estimates of female workers in different sectors and the average daily earnings of workers as available with the NSSO The information as available on factor income generated from various sectors of working populations i.e., wage and salary earners in the organized and unorganized sectors and self-employed workers, does throw some light on the contribution of the unprotected workers in the unorganized sector to national income
42. By and large almost all the female workers belong to the unprotected, self-employed and unorganized sector, where earnings are extremely low There are glaring differences in average earnings per worker in the organized and unorganized sectors The per woman earnings of workers in organized sector in 1981 has been estimated at Rs 11555 (963 per month), as against Rs 2720 (227 per month) for workers in unorganized sector (Mehta 1987)25 The earnings of workers in unprotected unorganized sectors are thus one fourth of earnings of the workers in the organized sector The earnings of self-employed workers are estimated at Rs 3062 per annum (Rs 255 per month). It is a common knowledge that the unprotected female workers in the unorganised sector receive wages which are less than half of the wages of males, and the earnings of self employed females are still more depressed The proportion of females constituting the work-force even by the NSS definition does not exceed 30 per cent of total female population it is, therefore, no wonder that the contribution of females, in the national income works out to be barely 10 to 15 per cent
43. Banerjee (1988) attempted to assess factor income of female workers by the nature of their employment on the basis of the data available in the Thirty Eighth Round of NSS (1983) with two sets of assumptions. 26 One assumption is that all the female workers worked on all the days of the year and their earnings are computed on the basis of the earning structure as prevailing for the regular wage and salaried workers in specific industrial categories The other assumption is that the opportunity cost of the self employed workers is the same as the average earnings of the casual labourer in a given locality/industry and if self-employment is
Table 15: Factor income of Female Workers by Activity Status and Sector, 1983
(Rupees in crores)
|Sector||Self Employed||Regular Salaries||Casual Labour||All Sectors|
Source: Banerjee N, Some Recent Trends in the Economic Activities of Indian Women, NCSEW, 1988
not possible, the casual labour is the other alternative available to poor female workers for making a living. The first assumption leads to over-estimation of the contribution of women to the national income whereas the second assumption sets somewhat lower limit of the assessment of the contribution of women in national income. On the basis of both these assumptions, the share of women in national income works out to be 16.9 per cent and 14.4 per cent respectively. The national income at factor cost in 1983 is estimated at Rs. 1,35,000 crores.
44. Even the low estimates according to Banerjee are an over-estimation of the contribution of women to national income as the earnings of home-based, self-employed female workers are lower than the casual labourers. It is high time to harness the potential of poor labouring women and work relentlessly to give them dignity and equality in the economic sphere.
Activity Status: Emerging Trends
45. Female Workforce Participation Rate: The measurement of female workforce participation rate is a difficult exercise Changes in definitions and concepts makes comparison of data from the different official sources and even from the same official sources, over a period of time, and difficult. The female workforce participation rate as estimated in the 1981 Census, even taking into consideration the marginal workers, appears to be highly depressed. According to the 1981 Census, out of a total of 222.5 million main workers and 22.1 million marginal workers, the share of female main worker was 20.2 per cent (45.0 million) and of marginal workers as 84.0 per cent (18.6 million). Thus female workers constituted about one fourth of total work force in the economy. The workforce participation rate (WFPR) for females (main + marginal workers) works out to be 20.3 per cent (23.2 per cent rural areas and 8.3 per cent in urban areas).
46. The female workforce participation rates (main workers) in both rural and urban areas are much lower than the males. On the whole, female workforce participation rate (main workers) as recorded in the 1981 Census is 3.25 times less than that of the males. In urban areas male workforce participation rate (main workers) is about seven times higher than that of the females. The data collected by NSSO surveys are on the other hand conceptually superior and are also more or less comparable over the last three quinquennial surveys. The WFPR for females according to 1983 NSSO survey are higher than those shown by the Census for females and the disparities between male and female rates are also much less (Table 16)
Table 16. Workforce Participation rate (Main workers) 1981 Census and Thirty Eighth Round of NSS 1983.
|Thirty Eighth Round of NSS (1983)|
Source: Based on (i) Census of India, Series-1, India Part-lI-Special, op.cit., p. 2.
(ii) NSSO Thirty Eighth Round (Jan-Dec., 1983), No. 341, p. 16.
Incidence of Intermittency of Work:
47. The estimated number of workers (usual status, main+marginal) by the Thirty Eighth Round of NSSO (1983), works out to be 287.3 million workers of whom 98.4 million are females. The work participation rate (all ages) for males and females are 53.8 and 29.6 respectively. There is a marked disparity in the work participation rate of females estimated in usual status and current day status basis by the NSSO. This is because all those recorded as workers on usual status basis may not find work on an average day, whereas the work participation rates (main+marginal workers of age 5 years and above) in rural areas for females as 39.3 on usual status basis and 22.9 on daily status basis. The comparative figures for males are 63.5 and 55.9. (Table 17).
Table 17. Work Participation Rate (Principal + Subsidiary Status) Age 5 years and above, 1983
|Category of worker||
Source: NSSO, op. cit., pp. 36-55.
Participation in Domestic Duties and Free Collection of Goods for Household Use (NSS activity Code Status-93):
48. The proportion of females engaged in domestic duties along with the free collection of goods (vegetables, roots, firewood, cattle food), sewing, tailoring, weaving for households use, is several times more than males. In rural areas, about 12.2 per cent of female population over five years is engaged in these activities as against barely 0.6 per cent in the case of males. This represents a sizeable section of the population and their absolute number is nearly half of the total female work force. If this category of population is added to the work force, the work force participation rates becomes much closer to males. Again this percentage varies markedly from State to State. It ranges from 0.8 per cent in Goa, Daman and Diu to around 30 per cent in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram. It is worth noting that States having higher work force participation rates (above national average) have a lower percentage of population engaged in these activities
49 Activity code status 92 i.e. persons attending domestic duties only, accounts for over 30 per cent of the females in rural areas (Table 18). In urban areas the proportion of females participating in activity code 92 (i.e. attending domestic duties only) and activity code 93 (i.e. attending domestic duties along with free collection of goods) is far higher (i.e 50.5 per cent) than in the rural areas (42.0 per cent). Some prominent activities in which females attending household duties in rural areas are engaged in include: (i) fetching water from outside household premises (63 per cent), (ii) preparation of cowdung cakes for use as fuel (49.9 per cent), (iii) grinding of foodgrains (36.8 per cent), (iv) household dairy (31.8 per cent), (v) sewing and tailoring (17.4 per cent), (vi) household poultry (14.5 per cent), (vii) maintenance of kitchen garden, orchards (14.4 per cent), in urban areas, the corresponding figures are: (i) bringing water from outside household premises (38.4 per cent), (ii) sewing and tailoring (20.8 per cent), and (iii) grinding of foodgrains (13.5 per cent).
Table 18: Percentage of Females 5 years and above, engaged in Household Duties and also Participated in Specified Activities to total Females engaged in Household Duties, 1983
|1||Maintenance of kitchen garden, orchards, etc||144||46|
|2||Work in household poultry||145||39|
|3||Work in household dairy||31 8||60|
|4||Any of the activity 1 3||437||11 7|
|5||Free collection of fish. Small game, etc||241||31|
|6||Free collection of firewood, cattle feed, etc||435||80|
|7||Any of the activity 1 5||65 1||172|
|9||Preparation of gur||22||02|
|10||Grinding of foodgrains||388||135|
|11||Preparation of cow dung cakes for use as fuel||499||91|
|13||Tutoring of children||34||100|
|14||Bringing water from outside the household premise||630||348|
|15||Bringing water from outside the village||33||—|
|16||Percentage of persons engaged in||420||505|
|household duties to total persons (5+)|
|Source: NSSO, 1987 op cit, p 93|
50. Self-employment, by and large, constitutes the dominant sector of employment in our economy This sector is characterised by "easy entry" and "less waiting time", where choice of activity is mainly guided by association of other members of the family in a particular activity or their "previous experiences" and "acquaintances" Most of the activities involve no capital or little capital The capital requirement, either of fixed or working capital, is almost
Table 19. Self-Employed Workers (Principal + Subsidiary) Usual Status, 1983.
(figures in million)
Source: NSSO, 1987, op. cit., pp. 16, 294, 295.
Table 20: Percentage Distribution of usually Employed Persons of Age 5 years and above by Category of Employment, 1983
|Principal Usual Status|
|Principal + Subsidiary Status|
Note: Figures in parentheses refer to Twenty Seventh Round (1972-73).
Source: Servekshana, 1986, Vol. IX, No. 4. S. 112.
NSSO: 38th Round, January—December, 1983. No. 341, 1987, pp. 50/6.
52. It is observed that the incidence of self-employment amongst the female marginal (subsidiary status) workers, in both the rural and the urban areas, is far higher than amongst the main workers, i.e. 85.5 per cent in rural areas and 82.2 per cent in urban areas. The rural-urban disparities in the proportion of self-employed workers (subsidiary status) is, much less than in the case of main workers. A comparison of the percentage distribution of female workers by the nature of employment during the twenty seventh Round (1972-73) and thirty eighth Round (1983) of the NSSO reveals that during this decade the proportion of self-employed workers, as well as the workers in regular wage occupation registered a noticeable decline a trend seen in the case of males too. The total percentage of self-employed workers to total workers in the household enterprises in the case of males, is 46.1 as against 18.7 per cent in the case of females. On the other hand, the proportion of male workers working as helpers in household enterprises is 13.4 percent as against 36.1 per cent
in the case of females
53. Incidence of Wage Labour and Casualization The proportion of female wage labour in the work force is far lower than that of males. Only 38 per cent of female workers in rural areas are wage earners. In urban areas, however, the percentage of female wage workers to total workers is 53.3 per cent. The percentage of female wage labour in female work force, engaged in agriculture is slightly higher (36.5 per cent in rural areas) than the males (35.0 per cent in rural areas) in the wage sector women are mostly engaged as casual labourers. The incidence of casual labour amongst female wage earners is much higher than in the males, in both the rural and urban areas, as well as in agriculture and non-agriculture occupations In rural areas, this incidence is rather alarming It is as high as 92.1 per cent amongst females as against 74.1 per cent amongst males A study of the NSSO data for 1972-83 shows that during this period, in rural areas, the incidence of casual labour among females increased by about 4 percentage points i.e. from 88.5 per cent in 1972-73 to 92.1 per cent in 1983 Again the state-wise variation in the incidence of casual labour are more pronounced amongst female workers than amongst males The percentage of casual labour in female work force varies from 14.5 per cent in Mizoram to 97.1 per cent in Maharashtra followed by 96.5 per cent in Bihar, 95.9 per cent in Karnataka, 94.4 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and 93.8 per cent in Uttar Pradesh For women workers engaged in agriculture, this percentage in some states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Mizoram is as high as 98 per cent or more 27
Table 21: Incidence of Casual Labour (Usual Status), 1983
|Rural/Urban||Percentage of Casual Wage earners to total wage earners|
|Total Rural||74 1||921|
|Total Urban||249||51 1|
Source Kalpagam U, Womens' in Labour Force, Analysis of NSS Data, 1987, pp 94,111, 123, 201, 220
54. The gender disparities in earnings as revealed in the NSSO or Rural Labour Enquiry Reports, are glaring One may draw the following inferences from the study of wage tables of Thirty Eighth Round of NSSO
(i) The average earnings of female casual labourers are highly depressed The disparity in the earnings of regular wage/salaried employees and casual wage labourers in the case of females are far more pronounced than of the males in both the rural and urban areas in the urban areas, the average earning of regular wage/salaried female employees is about three times higher than of the female casual labourers
(ii) The gender disparities in earnings are more pronounced in rural areas than in the urban areas
(iii) The gender disparities iii earnings are far greater amongst the casual wage labourers,
where female earnings are less than half of the males earnings. In rural areas, the earnings of female casual wage labourers, average around Rs. 4.49 as against 10.27 in the case of males. The corresponding figures for regular wage/salaried employees are Rs. 10.11 for the females and Rs. 15.04 for the males.
(iv) In both the rural and urban areas, and amongst regular wage earners as well as casual wage earners, the gender disparities in earnings increase with the age group of the workers. In the age group 60+, the average earnings record a steep fall. The fall is much more severe in the case of female workers than in the males. In the case of female workers the average wage earnings become almost equal to the average wage earnings of the child workers.
(v) A child worker in regular wage/salaried employment receives nearly one fourth of the average adult wages. Amongst casual workers this disparity is much less. It may also be noted that the disparities in the wages of female child workers in both regular and casual wage sectors, in the rural and urban areas is less pronounced than the male child workers.
Table 22: Average Wage Salary Earnings Per Day, 1983
|Regular Wage/Salaried Employees|
|Casual Wage Labourer|
Source: NSSO, 1987, op. cit., pp. 337, 338.
55. There is another aspect of wage discrimination which needs serious attention. It is observed that female workers "are exploited as a piece-rate worker doing manual labour for trader, middlemen, contractors and big companies in the corporate sector." "There is variation in the wages for identical work and skills". "Self-employed workers accept wage rate which patently do not cover their cost. It is difficult to understand why and how the difference exists and why workers accept them." "In any case a significant chunk" of self-employed workers "is engaged in providing cheap labour intensive services to the rich"28
Incidence of Unemployment and Under-employment:
56. In both rural and urban areas, as a percentage of labour force, the unemployment rates for females are generally much higher than of the males. In the case of females in rural areas, these rates particularly by current daily status, are several times more than of the usual status. For instance, in the Thirty Eighth Round, according to the usual status, the female unemployment rate works out to be 1.41, whereas according to the daily status, this is 8.8 in rural areas. In urban areas according to daily status, the incidence of unemployment amongst female is as high as 10.9 as against 9.23 males. The usually high.
difference in the unemployment rates estimated according to the usual status and the daily status reflect the greater incidence of casual work.
Table 23: Incidence of Unemployment, 1983
Source: NSSO, 1987, op. cit, p. 79
Table 24. Percentage Distribution of Females (5 years and above) Usually engaged in Household Duties and Willing to Accept Work at their Residence by Type of Work Acceptable, 1983.
|Type of work acceptable||Rural||Urban|
|Other animal husbandry||11.12||3.01|
|Spinning and weaving||16.68||15.25|
|Manufacturing wood and cane products||0.94||1.81|
|Leather goods manufacturing and repairing||0.23||0.72|
|Percentage of females willing to accept work to total|
|females engaged in household duties||24.46||21.93|
|Percentage of females engaged in household|
|duties to total females||42.00||50.50|
Source: NSSO, 1987, op. cit., p. 95.
57. Again there are marked statewise variations in the female unemployment rates. It varies from 0.7 per cent in Himachal Pradesh to 39.4 per cent in Tripura, followed by 31.12 per cent in Kerala, 30.1 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and Pondicherry, and 26 per cent in West Bengal. The variation in the incidence of unemployment, in the case of males, is much less pronounced as it varies from 1.0 per cent in Manipur to 24.8 per cent in Kerala29
58. The NSSO Thirty Eighth Round also furnishes some estimates of the underemployment. It is observed that in rural areas about 18 per cent of the usually employed females were under-employed (i.e., available for additional work). The corresponding proportion in urban areas was 15 percent. Under-employment is the highest among the casual labourers, particularly among those usually engaged in agricultural activities.
59. The incidence of under-employment among female casual wage workers in agriculture was 33.1 per cent. Even amongst the females engaged in the household duties, as many as 24.46 per cent in rural areas and 21.93 per cent in urban areas were willing to accept work if the same is made available at their residence.30
Table 25: Percentage distribution of females (5 years and above) Usually engaged in Household duties and Willing to Accept Work at their Residence by Type and Nature Work Acceptable for each Type of Work Acceptable
|Type of work acceptable||
|Full time||Part time||Occasional||Full time||Part time||Occasional|
|Other animal husbandry||2979||5728||1294||4398||4932||670|
|Spinning and weaving||23 10||6483||1207||2548||61 13||1340|
|Manufacturing wood &|
|Leather goods manu &|
Source NSSO, 1987, op cit, p 96
60. As regard their choice of work in rural areas, 32.7 per cent females preferred dairy activities, 20.2 per cent tailoring work, and 16.7 per cent spinning and weaving in urban areas 40.2 per cent preferred tailoring, followed by spinning and weaving (15.3 per cent), and dairy farmers (15.2 per cent). It is interesting to note that all those who reported as available for work in the household were not available on a full time basis in rural areas only 29.8 per cent of the female engaged in household duties reported that they were willing to accept work at their residence on a full time basis, another 60.9 per cent were prepared to accept work on a part time basis and the rest 9 per cent on Occasional basis in urban areas the corresponding percentages were 33.5, 57.4 and 9 respectively 31
61. A study of intra sectoral structure of our work force shows that females are mostly confined to low paid and unpaid jobs in 1981, 81.6 per cent of female workers (as against 66.2 per cent of males) were engaged in the primary sector In the secondary and tertiary sectors, the proportion of female workers was barely 8.9 per cent and 9.5 per cent respectively. In the case of males these ratios are higher i.e., 13.9 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively. It is
Table 26: Sectoral Distribution of Workers in 1971 and 1981
Source Census of India, 1981, Series-1, India, Part-ll-Special, op cit, P 98
interesting to note that during 1971-81, the proportion of female workers in the primary sector recorded some decline i.e. from 83.0 per cent in 1971 to 82.6 per cent in 1981. In the secondary and tertiary sectors the proportion of females to total female workers registered some increase
Table 27: Percentage Distribution of Female Main Workers and Sex Ratio by Major Occupational Categories in 1971 and 1981
|Activity||Share in Employment||Sex Ratio||Share in Employment||Sex Ratio|
|fishing hunting and|
|& allied activities|
|Mining and quarrying||0.3||0.3||180||200||1.0||0.6||110||70|
|(a) Household industry||3.6||3.8||270||380||10.0||10.4||260||330|
|(b) Other than||1.6||2.1||150||160||12.9||14.3||60||70|
|Trade & Commerce||1.0||1.1||80||100||8.2||8.9||40||360|
Source: Census of India 1971, Series 1 Part II B(i) General Economic Table B-1 (Part-A) Pg 18-20, Census of India 1981, Series 1 Part ll-Special, Table B1, B3 and B7 pp 2-3, 6-9 and 24-29
64. The intra sectoral distribution of workers by major/minor activity groups as per National Industrial Classification further reveals the extent of discrimination faced by women in the world of work as a result of social, cultural and economic factors In the primary sector, their mainstay is agriculture and even in agriculture they mostly work as casual labourers In mining and quarrying, women are mainly engaged in stone-quarrying where they work mostly as irregular casual workers. In the secondary sector, in household industries, where their share recorded some increase in 1981 over 1971, they primarily work as helpers In the tertiary sector, they are again more absorbed in traditional low paid occupations
65. The overall sex ratio for main workers works out to be 142 females per thousand males According to the 1981 Census out of a total of 376 minor groups of activities under National Industrial Classification in only eight activities was the number of female workers found to be more than the male workers The activities having favourable sex ratio i.e. where the number of female workers exceeds the number of male workers are (i.) cashewnut processing like drawing, shelling, roasting, salting etc (2093 females per thousand males), (ii) cotton spinning other than in mills (1517 females per thousand males), (iii) manufacturing of beedis (1236 females per thousand males), (iv) wool spinning and weaving (1199 females per thousand males), (v) tobacco stemming and redrawing (1104 females per thousand males); (vi)
canning and preservation of foods and vegetables (1093 females per thousand males); (vii) manufacturing of beverages, tobacco and tobacco products (1030 females per thousand males). In most other activities, the sex ratio of females is generally less than 100. In the modern sector in activities like manufacturing locomotives and parts of railway wagons and coaches, electrical repairs, plumbing, carpentary, wood work and electric installations, in transport business and services the proportion of female to male workers works out to be less than one per cent.
66. In land based activities which account for a very large proportion of female workers, the overall sex ratio of workers engaged in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing is 200. The sex ratio of female workers is the highest in plantations (456). Among specific group of plantations again, the sex ratio is the highest in tea plantations (918), followed by cardamom plantations (750) coffee plantations (751). In livestock production, the sex ratio among main workers is only 149. The major activities in which women are predominantly engaged in, include cattle and goat-breeding, rearing and ranching and production of milk, rearing of pigs and other animals, rearing or ducks, hens and other birds. These activities account for over 90 per cent of female workers engaged in livestock production. The sex ratio of main workers in agricultural services which includes pest destroying, spraying, pruning of infected stems, operation of irrigation system, animal rearing, horticulture and nursery services and soil conservation is barely 97. In an activity like soil testing the sex ratio is as low as 28.
67. In other sectors women are mainly engaged in traditional occupations and their proportion in high paid secondary and tertiary occupations in the modern sector is very insignificant. Some other trends in the intra-sectoral changes in the economic activity structure of female workers are as follows.
Table 28: Sex Ratio of Main Workers (other than Cultivators and Agricultural Labourers) by Major NIC Groups 1981.
|Division/Major Group of NIC||Sex Ratio|
|Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing||200|
|Forestry and logging||196|
|Mining and Quarrying||148|
|Crude petroleum and natural gas||52|
|Metal ore mining||250|
|Manufacturing and Repair||170|
|Manufacturing of food products||159|
|Manufacturing of beverages, tobacco and tobacco products||1030|
|Manufacturing of cotton textiles||233|
|Manufacturing of work, silk & synthetic fiber textile||257|
|Manufacturing of Jute, hemp and mesta textiles||43|
|Manufacture of textile products (including wearing apparel other than footwear)||148|
|Manufacture of wood and wood products, furniture and fixture||185|
|Manufacture of paper and paper products and printing, publishing and allied industries||52|
|Manufacture of leather and leather and fur products||43|
|Manufacture of rubber, plastic, petroleum and coal products||80|
|Manufacture of chemicals & chemical products||207|
|Manufacture of non-metallic mineral products||243|
|Basic metal and alloys industries||24|
|Manufacture of metal products and parts, except machinery and|
|Manufacture of Machinery, Machine Tools, and parts, except|
|Manufacture of electrical machinery, apparatus, appliances, and||66|
|supplies and parts|
|Manufacture of transport equipment and parts||16|
|Other manufacturing industries||54|
|Electricity, Gas and Water||25|
|Gas and steam||15|
|Water works and supply||34|
|Activities allied to construction||19|
|Wholesale and retail trade and restaurants and hotels||71|
|Wholesale trade in food, textiles, live animals, beverages and intoxicants||29|
|Wholesale trade in fuel, light, chemicals, Perfumery, Ceramics and Glass||46|
|Wholesale trade in wood, paper, other fabrics, hide and skin and inedible oils||20|
|Wholesale trade in all types of machinery, equipment, including|
|transport and electrical equipment||41|
|Wholesale trade in miscellaneous manufactures||31|
|Retail trade in food and articles, beverage, tobacco and intoxicants||91|
|Retail trade in textiles||19|
|Retail trade in fuel and other household utilities and durables||91|
|Retail trade in others||53|
|Restaurants and hotels||71|
|Transport Storage and Communications||29|
|Storage and warehousing||54|
|Financing, Insurance, Real Estate and Business||65|
|Banking and similar type of financial institutions||84|
|Providents and insurance||107|
|Real estate and business services||36|
|Community, Social and personal services||204|
|Public Administration and defence services||57|
|Education, scientific & research services||355|
|Medical and health services||348|
|Recreational and cultural services||71|
|International and other extra territorial bodies||125|
|Services not elsewhere classified||147|
Source Based on Census of India, 1981, Series-1, India, Part-ll, Special, op cit, pp 36-59
68. Cultivators and Agricultural Labourers in agriculture, females are mainly engaged as agricultural labourers As agricultural labourers they comprise 60.0 per cent of all agricultural workers as against 32.1 per cent in the case of male workers Even in urban areas, It may be noted that 21 per cent of women are engaged in the primary sector, almost all of them as agricultural labourers
Table 29: Sex Ratio of Agricultural Workers in 1971 and 1981
Source: Banerjee N, Some Recent Trends in the Economic Activities of Indian Women, NCSEW,
1988, p 12
69. Livestock, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting, Plantation, Orchards and Allied Activities This sector accounts for about 2 per cent of total women workers The overall relative share of
female employment, during 1971-81, in this sector has registered some decline In rural areas the sex ratio declined from 230 in 1971 to 210 in 1981 In urban areas, it remained constant at 140 In livestock production, the overall sex ratio in 1981 works out to be 149 In areas like cattle and goat-breeding and rearing and the production of milk the sex ratio is as low as 165 Although, the share of women workers in dairy has registered some increase yet, the total number of females employed in dairy farming is still very low In traditional plantations and forestry, females have maintained their relative position but they have not been able to take advantage of the expansion in work opportunities in new plantation crops like fruits and nuts and other cultivation In fishing, because of modernisation and the thrust on export orientation, the share of female workers has declined The overall sex ratio in fishing is barely 60 In pisciculture and ocean/sea and coastal fishing the sex ratio varies from 23 to 35 only
Table 30: Sex Ratio of workers in Selected Categories of Forestry Plantation, Livestock and Fishing
Sex Ratio of Workers
|Industry||No in 000 in 1981||% Change over 1971-81||1981||% change over 1971-81|
|Roots, tubes, vegetables,|
|Other agriculture not|
|included elsewhere||82||1071.4||68||(-) 19.5|
|Traditional plantation||772||(-) 26.0||810||2.7|
|Forestry & logging||360||53.2||197||36.4|
Note: Traditional plantation includes tea, coffee, rubber, tobacco, pepper, cardamom Other plantation includes nuts, fruits, coconuts, ganja, chinchona, opium etc
Sources: Census of India 1971, Series 1 Part.-ll-Special, (B) (111) General Economic Tables, 1977, Table B (IV)-Part-A, pp 13-19 Census of India 1981 Part-ll-Special, Table B-12, pp 36-39
70. Mining and Quarrying During 1971-81, the relative share of the female workers in this group remained somewhat constant The overall sex ratio, during this period, increased from 180 in 1971 to 200 in 1981 in rural areas, whereas in urban areas it decreased from 110 in 1971 to 70 in 1981 In the public sector as well as the leading industrial groups in coal, iron ore and metal mining, female employment during the last two decades has remained almost static There has been a sharp decline in the number of female workers engaged in coal mining particularly after the nationalisation of this Industry There are reports that in the public sector coal mines, regular registered female workers have been encouraged to retire 'voluntarily' after nominating a male successor with the active connivance and support of the management and unions and thus given 'golden handshake'32
However, there has been a significant increase in female employment under stone-quarrying and mica mining which are entirely under private management and largely run by contractors through hiring daily labourers Even in mine, under the public or private corporate
management, there is an extensive use of contract or casual labour and females are largely engaged as casual labourers in these units There is a possibility of under-reporting of women's employment obviously with a view to avoid labour laws in such establishments During 1971-81 possibly as a result of the organized protest by mine workers, the incidence of casual labour in this sector has fallen sharply and the incidence of regular wage workers has increased correspondingly.
71. Manufacturing, Household and Non-household Industry Next to agriculture, manufacturing constitutes the single biggest source of employment to women During 1971-81, the proportion of females engaged in this sector has recorded a significant increase in both rural and urban areas The sex ratio in rural areas increased from 270 in 1971 to 380 in 1981 and in urban areas from 260 in 1971 to 330 in 1981
72. Within this sector, however, the percentage share of female workers in traditional industries, i.e. food, tobacco and textile has remained almost static In the broad groups of foods and textiles, the share of female workers has declined in the cashew Industry and coffee curing, on account of mechanisation and consequent shift from household enterprises to other forms of organisation, women's employment has suffered The non-traditional group of industries like garments, plastics, and rubber products have recorded a sizeable increase in the share of female employment Females have gained more in industries where putting out work is common, like, garments, coal, ceramics, chemicals and metallurgical and engineering, plastics, rubber products and tobacco processing 33
73. The overall sex ratio in non-traditional modern industries remains incredibly low in industries like fertilizers and pesticides, manufacture of paints, varnishes, and lacquers, manufacture of chemical products, structural clay products, fur and skin rugs and other articles, printing, dyeing and bleaching of cotton textiles, manufacture of wooden furniture and fixtures, metal products and parts, manufacture of machineries, electric equipment, transport equipments and parts, electricity, gas and steam works, the sex ratio of workers ranges from 0 to 50
74. Four industries, viz, food beverages and tobacco textiles, wood and wooden products and ceramics account for over 86 per cent of female workers engaged in manufacturing activities
75. In manufacturing industries, during 1977-83, the proportion of self-employed women workers declined, whereas the number of casual and regular wage workers increased significantly
76. The manufacturing sector has thus witnessed mixed developments There are some shifts in favour of non traditional Industry Women are looking for new avenues in the modern sector but their entry to this sector is generally confined to less skilled jobs For instance, in rubber, plastic and petroleum women's gains are more confined to rural areas using less modern techniques and producing less valuable products Women have also lost their share in many industries with the introduction of new technologies The new technological changes have unfortunately resulted in female workers being replaced by male workers. 34
77. Construction Work In construction the sex ratio of workers has increased from 106 in 1971 to 122 in 1981 The proportion of females to total workers engaged in construction increased from from 9.1 per cent in 1971 to 9.9 per cent in 1981, out of 3.5 million construction workers, nearly 0.3 million were females (NSSO 38th round estimates number of construction workers as 6 5 million of these 15 per cent i.e. 1.0 million were women workers) The increase is primarily in the rural areas in urban areas, the share of female workers in construction, has remained more or less constant This may be partly because of the numerous public works programmes promoting employment as a part of rural poverty eradication measures of the
78. In allied categories, like, plumbing, electrical installations, and woodwork related to construction the share of female workers has declined sharply in both urban areas. The decline is more evident in industries-allied to construction, particularly brick and tile making, where the sex ratio has sharply declined. This is probably because of the modernisation of brick and tile making units, resulting in organisational change i.e. from being run mainly as a household enterprise to factory units. The incidence of casual female labour in construction has increased from 93 per cent in 1977 to 97 per cent in 1983.
79. Trade and Commerce: In trade and commerce the share of female workers has shown some gain in both rural and urban areas. The sex ratio in trade and commerce has increased from 80 in 1971 to 100 in 1981 in rural areas and from 40 in 1971 to 60 in 1981 in urban areas. The number of female workers in this sector is still very insignificant i.e. one per cent of the total female workers, and this percentage has remained stationary during 1971-81.
80. Other Services: During 1971-81, there was a noticeable improvement in the number of women workers in this sector in both the rural and urban areas. The sex ratio increased from 140 in 1971 to 160 in 1981 in rural areas and from 190 in 1971 to 220 in 1981 in urban areas. However, the number of females employed in this sector as a percentage to the total number of female workers declined both in the rural and urban areas. For instance, in the rural areas the proportion of female workers in other services to the total number of female workers fell from 3.4 per cent in 1971 to 2.9 per cent in 1981, and in the urban areas from 38.1 per cent in 1971 37.4 per cent in 1981. Amongst services, the sex ratio of workers is highest in a personal service (376). Again in personal services, women workers are found more in domestic services where the ratio is as high as 885 followed by laundries and laundry services (530). During 1971-81, the sex ratio of women in education, medical and administrative services has shown some significant increase. The sex ratio in these professions in 1981 varied from 355 in education and scientific research to 379 in medical and health. In sanitary services the sex ratio is 411.
81. A Study of the Gender Bias in Employment of Women in the urban Informal Sector, undertaken by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) brings forth a number of interesting findings with respect to nature of women's work in self-employed sector, its structure, size and capital base, earnings, productivity and marketing. Some of the findings are briefly reported as follows.35
i) Occupational Pattern: In urban areas, nearly 40 percent of self-employed women are engaged in services, followed by 30 per cent in trade, 15 per cent in manufacturing, 8 per cent in construction and 5 per cent in primary activities. A majority of such enterprises consisted of one person enterprises engaged in petty businesses like dairying, pottery-making and selling of dolls and statues; goldsmithy; selling of pan-bidis, fruits and vegetables; fruit vending; laundry; making and selling of leaf, cane and bamboo products, collection and selling of firewood and cowdung cakes. In these occupations the respondent and the family members are mainly involved as workers.
ii) Further, a greater proportion of the self-employed women outside the home (57 per cent) than within the home (43 per cent). Of those working outside the home, only a very small number, i.e. 8 per cent have 'pukka' structures at their work place. A large percentage of them (over 60 per cent) are either mobile or operate from pavements and "are vulnerable to the vagaries of weather which spells irregularity in work and income'". A lack of appropriate physical structure leaves them with a high degree of uncertainty about the place of work and their future plans for expansion and technological improvement in their work operations.
iii) Size of Enterprise : Over two-thirds of the enterprises are self-owned and
self-managed Another one-third have two to five persons per unit
iv) Access to Capital The level of fixed capital in women owned or run enterprises is extremely low Nearly two-thirds of enterprises have fixed capital of less than Rs 50 About 10 per cent of the enterprises have fixed capital over Rs 2,000 "In several activities, such as beedi, agarbatti packing, rag picking, rope and charpai making, the quantum of fixed capital used is either zero or marginal " However, the requirement of working capital in some other occupations is relatively high in rag picking and collection of cowdung, hardly any working capital is required but in activities like embroidery, making and selling of dolls, leaves, cane and bamboo products, selling of fruits, vegetables and pan-bidis, food vending, dairying, poultry and running of dhabas, working capital requirements vary from Rs 500 a month to Rs 2,000 a month
v) Input and Output Linkages; The requirement of inputs in the self-employed sector are mostly met from the informal sector The produce is generally sold directly to the households, without using any formal channels for distributions "The production of intermediate or capital products by this sector is almost negligible" The enterprises are, thus, highly dependent on localized demand from households and changes in either the demand pattern or supply pattern often proves fatal
vi) Level of Earnings Over four-fifths of self-employed workers earn less than Rs 500 per month About one-tenth of workers earn Rs 100 percent earn Rs 300 per month Women in weaving, spinning, embroidery, packing of bidis and agarbattis, selling of pan-bidis, cigarettes and rag picking, domestic services, scavenging, selling of groceries, construction and making of paper, envelopes and bags, selling of ropes and charpais, running of dhabas and food vending earn less than Rs 500 per month All such activities in which wage contract work predominates are associated with lower earning
82. Women in the Organized Sector The growth of the organized sector in our economy has been rather slow it barely accounts for one tenth of the total work force A bulk of employment in the organised sector comes from the public sector In the public sector, women's share has also been stagnating around 11 to 13 per cent of the total number of employees In 1986, out of a total of 25.3 million persons employed In the organized sector, 3 3 million i. e. 13.1 per cent were women The public sector, accounting for 70.8 per cent (17 1 million persons) of the total employment In the organized sector, provided employment to 2 0 million women In the private sector, women workers accounted for 17.8 per cent of the total number of workers 36
83. Women and Modernisation: There are several studies based on the Census records about the impact of development on women's work In the economy Their broad conclusion is that during the present century there has been a steady decline In women's traditional activities without a corresponding expansion of their role In the modern sector The process of modernisation has generally identified with several kinds of development such as opening up of the economy to wider market forces, introduction of mechanised and energised tools and equipment In production and organisation of production process In the capitalist mode Census figures showing shifts of the workers between occupations and industries provide some indications of the course of development and its impact on different groups of workers
84. It seems that the process of modernisation In our economy has had two effects transformation of traditional industries into modern capitalistic enterprises, and the growth of new manufacturing and service industries (chemical, metal, electronic etc) The modernisation process has also affected the agricultural sector by way of introducing fertilizers, pesticides and modern implements The data on female labour force show that women also are involved In this process of modernisation However, although women are now working In
diverse occupations, the basic pattern of their employment or the strict division of labour between men and women has not been affected In other words, though women have, to some extent, started working In new industries, they work on relatively less skilled jobs In fact, women are dominating only In these few less skilled or low productivity jobs In the majority of modern occupations the sex ratio remains incredibly low
85. In this context the findings of Mitra (1981) are worth noting Mitra divides all occupations into three categories, traditional, mixed and modern and assessed the sex ratios of workers In each occupation as well as In each of the groups 37 There are very few Indian industries which can be classified without any reservation under just one or the other of the three broad categories viz traditional, mixed and modern In almost all cases, several kinds of technology ranging from manual to highly mechanised are simultaneously In use This applies even to traditional activities such as agriculture, fishing or leather Industry Similarly, production organisations also vary widely within most industries from large scale capitalist form to merchant capital operations down to the self-employed producing for local markets
86. A study of the census data during 1961-81 reveals that during the sixties, women's share In employment In both traditional and mixed sectors had declined In the modern sector it had remained unchanged During 1971-81, there was a rise In women's relative role In traditional occupations In both rural and urban areas which is largely accounted for by the significant rise In their role In agriculture In mixed occupations In both rural and urban areas, tobacco and garment industries accounted for most of the improvement In the overall sex ratio In the modem sector, it is (Annex = I) some services, specially education and administrative and professional services where their overall position has improved
87. In spite of these few shifts, on the whole there is no reason to say that there is any qualitative change In women's position the development process Women's relative position is better and improving only In occupations where there was already a significant number of them In the workforce There is no indication of an even, across-the-broad improvement or sudden opening of new venues for them The earlier trend of women moving out of an Industry when the latter becomes more capital intensive apparently still prevails 38
88. Female Workers and Skills The proportion of skilled workers among females is very low In the Twenty Seventh Round of the NSSO, nearly 90 per cent of female workers In rural areas and over 70 per cent In urban areas were found to be unskilled workers Again the skill amongst female workers are confined to a few traditional occupations like spinning and weaving which account for 40.3 per cent of all female skilled workers, followed by tailoring (17.3 per cent), book binders (16.8 per cent), weavers, bidi making (13.8 per cent), basket making (6.8 per cent), and potters (6.8 per cent) In urban areas as many as 28.3 per cent of female skilled workers are engaged In spinning and weaving followed by tailoring (24.7 per cent), bidi making (16.9 per cent), basket making (2.7 per cent)
III. Some Selected Occupational Profiles
89. Several sectoral micro studies were sponsored by the Commission to gain some more insight about the working women In the depressed sectors like those working as domestic workers, vendors and hawkers, construction workers, and those engaged In food processing, fisheries and handicrafts The micro studies sponsored by the Commission present a telling account of the deprivation suffered by them Some highlights of the studies and the major problems faced by them are as follows
90. Female Domestic Workers As per Thirty Second Round of NSSO (1977-78), there were 16 8 lakhs female domestic workers as against 6.2 lakhs male domestic workers Thus the proportion of female domestic workers is two and a half times more than the male.
Table 31: Percentage Distribution of Female Workers by Type of Skills, 1977-78
|Type of Skill||Rural||Urban|
Source: Government of India, Department of Statistics, Sarvekshana, Vol V, Nos 1 & 2, Table 8, pp 519-522, 1981
domestic workers The sex ratio among domestic workers works out to be 2710
91. Domestic work involves a multitude of jobs like sweeping, swabbing, cooking, washing clothes and dishes, shopping, child care, and chauffeuring. In short, it covers all the household chores that are part of a woman's role In a patriarchal society In rural areas, it includes agriculture-related jobs within the household Even In domestic jobs the more paying and higher status jobs like chauffeuring and cooking are done by men Recently, with the increase In the number of young unmarried girls taking up this work as daughters of the domestic workers, this occupation has become hereditary, generationally reproducing their skill and education disadvantages preventing them from moving out to other occupations
92. Domestic workers are often called domestic servants. They possess no other marketable skills. They may work part time In 3-7 different homes, work fulltime In one household but live outside, or work and live full time in the same household. The wages and other benefits are settled arbitrarily. The wages may differ substantially for the same kind of job in the same locality
93. Domestic workers have no specific terms of employment, no rigid job description, no social security benefits (provident fund, gratuity, pension, medical facilities), no provision for paid leave etc. Strangely, part time workers may be better off than full time workers, and full time workers better off than full time cum live-in workers Often if a worker takes leave for more than a few days, she is expected to provide a substitute or she is dismissed on-the-spot, or she may come back only to find that she has been replaced permanently There is no protective legislation to protect their interest A unique feature of domestic workers is that each worker is isolated from the other and the problem of organising them is almost insurmountable. It is difficult to make them meet to discuss their problems and develop a common identity.
94. In short, female domestic workers are subjected to the worst kind of exploitation It is not only that they work on casual and temporary basis, suffer from total casualisation of work and are devoid of legal protection, particularly In terms of payment of wages and hours of work but they are often suspected for thefts and harassed by the employer as well as the police. They remain voiceless and nameless spectators of their misfortune
95. It is felt that these workers urgently need recognition of their status as workers, legal protection for better wages, fair and strictly adhered to terms of employment (hours of work, leave, etc.), and social security benefits, provision of proper living quarters, including low cost hostels for single women, which will remove them from their employers constant demands and supervision; strictly enforced educational and recreational facilities for children, to facilitate their general development and assure them the chance of seeking alternative employment.39
96. Female Vendors and Hawkers Mobile vendors and hawkers, petty traders engaged in selling vegetables, fruits, cloth and garments, cutlery, pots and pans, bangles and toys, cooked food and exchanging goods for old clothes and other household effects constitute another group of highly vulnerable female workers who are subjected to perpetual harassment by the authorities and the community, In fact, they are viewed as anti-social elements under the Indian Police Act, the Indian Railways Act and by the town planning authorities Urban planners frequently consider them as impediments to planning and dysfunctional appendages to the city economies. Their activities are labelled as "unauthorised", regardless of the fact that this system offers opportunities for employment, cheap and convenient distribution of commodities. Their needs and functions are thus totally ignored by the planners
97. The vendors and hawkers, play a very important role In the economy by providing goods and services at a cheap price at the doorstep A woman vendor operates on a small scale, most of them toiling for 10-12 hours per day, yet scarcely earning Rs 10-15 a day In urban areas, they are largely concentrated In and around high density pockets like public markets, points of transportation, commercial centres and entertainment zones In Delhi, in 95 or more weekly bazars, there are over 9000 women vendors struggling to earn a living through vending What haunts the poor vendors is the lack of capital and space for marketing and displaying their products and recognition of their work by the authorities In several cities, the vendors and hawkers are not entitled to licences to work and are harassed, even prosecuted for selling their products They often have to bribe the police and other authorities to be able to continue their struggle for survival by selling what they possess
98. There are instances when basket vendors are forced to pay bribes of Rs 30-40 to the police for selling their baskets In market places Creating obstacles and hindrances In their profession, forcing them to withdraw from their activities by means of frequent arrests, imposition of penalties and fines, confiscation of their goods, dragging them to court cases only add to their miseries and poverty There are a lucky few who have been able to take advantage of some schemes operated under the DIP and the SEPUP (Self-Employment for Urban Poor) The lot of the rest is anybody's guess
99. It is expected that recognition of their role and provision of space for carrying out their business,systematic licence system, social welfare programmes, including education and training, and assistance for expanding their business by providing suitable credit, inputs and marketing facilities would go long way In improving their status and earning capacity 40
100. Women In Dairying Women's contribution to dairying ranges from collection of fodder, to milching of animals, cleaning and washing, and taking care of the animals Not only they are the last to go to the bed, but they are the first to rise as early as around 2 30 A M for preparing animals for milching Yet they hardly have any say, In owning the animals, or the cash income obtained from the sale of milk
101. Even In the milk cooperatives, women are seldom included as members and are rarely seen on the managing committees In fact, women's cooperatives are a rare event it is an irony that most of them, though the providers of milk, do not get milk for their personal consumption Being outside the cooperatives they do not get a fair price for the milk, or proper marketing outlets and are often In the clutches of the local moneylender or local procurers of milk They are also the victim of other practices like sharing of milk and animals which works to their utter disadvantages
102. There are some success stories of the dairy cooperatives of women which show that women can manage the cooperatives equally well and use their income for the betterment of the family Several suggestions offered to protect the interest of women engaged In dairying include (i) fifty per cent of members of milk cooperatives should be women, (ii) each cooperative should have two female members on the managing committees, (111) 10 to 30 per cent of cooperatives should be exclusively women's cooperatives, and (iv) DRDAs should have lady extension officers to involve women as beneficiaries and as owner of milch animal 41
103. Women in Construction Women engaged in construction work are one of the most exploited group of workers They suffer from the temporary and shifting nature of this work, to hardships of great physical labour in all types of weather and exploitation from middlemen and contractors They toil hard, earn meagre wages, and struggle with insecurity looming large over their heads Frequent changes In their work-sites and instability of their work, deprive them and their children from primary facilities like health, education and ration cards Their health problems become worse on account of unhealthy surrounding, hazardous nature of work and low and irregular wages which is below even subsistence level They are largely engaged as unskilled workers even though they perform a highly specialised work More paying and so-called skilled jobs are invariably taken up by males, the idea of women entering these areas is just unthinkable Employers seldom pay them wages on time, the payments remain unsettled even when they are leaving the work site or leaving for their native place Often they nave to make a futile chase In locating their ex-employers on return from their native homes
104. According to the 1981 Census out of a total of 36 lakh construction workers, 10 per cent were female The corresponding NSSO figure In 1983 is 65 lakh of whom 15 per cent constitute female workers
105. The variability in labour absorption in construction work is much more pronounced for women than for men It has been often noticed that whenever there is any increase in demand for labour this sector, the rise in the female employment rates is much greater than that of males On the other hand, whenever there is any shrinkage in the workforce, the fall is more drastic in the case of female workers than of the males It appears that women construction workers form a reserve army coming to the aid of the construction industry and are first to get retrenched when the work slows down
106. Although the construction workers are covered under various acts like the Minimum Wages Act, the Contract Labour Act and the inter-state Migrant Workers Act, these acts exist in paper only, in practice they are blatantly violated by the employers Several steps which are likely to help these workers include (i) stringent enforcement of the provisions of the laws, (11) strict punishment for the violation, (iii) allowing trade unions and NGOs to file cases of violation of the labour laws, (iv) welfare programmes financed by the employers or contractors, (v) provision of educational training for upgrading their skills, (vi) designing of tools and equipments to make the work less hazardous and less arduous for women, (vii) provision of welfare facilities like creches, medical doctor/mobile dispensary etc , (viii) organisation of the women construction workers to protect their rights and fight against exploitation 42
107. Women in Mining and Quarrying Mining and quarrying has been another important sector employing poor women in all kinds of strenuous and hazardous work The abolition of underground work by women in mines (1929) and prohibition of work in night shifts (1952) and introduction of new improved technology, particularly, after the nationalization of coal mines has led to considerable decline in the share of women workers in mines. In fact the introduction of improved technology in mines. has led to 'voluntary' retirement and "golden handshake" for women resulting in 30 per cent decline in famale workers in coal mines. in eighties
108. The major problems confronting women in this sector include (i) high incidence of casualization as women are predominantly enagaged as contract workers, (ii) insecurity of employment, (iii) low wages, (iv) very low percentage of permanency (43.6 per cent of women workers are permanent as against 78.5 per cent of male workers), (v) non-enforcement of labour laws, (vi) incidence of bonded labour system in some mines. particularly in quarrying, and (vii) hazardous and strenuous nature of work Here again what is needed is the strict enforcement of labour legislation and provision of welfare programmes including education and training for acquisition of skills. 43
109. Women in Food Processing The food processing industry is one of the earliest home based industries, where work is largely performed by poor women The industry covers a wide range of items like processing of vegetables, fruits, pickles, chutneys, papad, chips, spices, a variety of perishable food items It is recently emerging as an export oriented industry where thirty per cent of its products are being exported.
Typically the production process in food processing is carried out in several forms/levels, these may be broadly categorised as follows:
Home based level: Working as a family, or under the putting out sub-contracting system, producing snacks with a shelf-life.
Street-level: Working as a family with or without one or two employees, producing ready-to-eat snacks, beverages and/or cheap meals.
Shop-level: With 5-8 employees, making products with a shelf life for packaging.
Canteen-level: With 5-10 employees, making products with a shelf life for packaging.
Workshop level: About 25 employees, producing products with a shelf-life.
Factory-level: Generally automated plants.
110. The greatest number of women are employed in the home-based production. It is very low at the street, shop and at factory levels. Usually the work is seasonal and the demand for products fluctuates. About 40 to 50 per cent of workers in this industry do not get regular work. Sub-contracting is widespread as it ensures that the scattered workers do not get united and therefore labour laws could be circumvented. In traditional mode of production women labour is clearly preferred as they can be paid very little and are less demanding. A woman engaged in papad making earns bare Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 per day after putting in 6 to 7 hours of strenuous work.
111. Mechanisation often displaces women by men. Even with small introduction of mechanisation women are thrown out of employment and their work is taken over by the men. Job experience is of little value to workers as women working for 15 years and more have little improvement in their wage and status.
112. Marketing is done at many levels; residence, door to door, street, shop levels. Women are not significantly involved in marketing.
113. The most-regrettable fact is the lack of data on these women. There are some women's organisations in the food processing industry, such as Indira Kitchens or Lijjat Papad, Annapurana Mahila Mandal and others which have lend some viability to female workers engaged in this profession.
114. It is high time to recognise the status of these women workers, provide them legal protection (strict enforcement) for better wages, job security and social security benefits, regular employment, free them from the shackles of middlemen (which cuts into their wages and takes marketing out of their control) alongwith restriction of sub-contracting and putting out system and provide easy access to credit, education, training for their betterment.44
115. Women in Fisheries: India has a 6000 Km. long coastline and a large number of rivers which support about 65 lakh fishermen. In fisheries women are mainly involved in all process after the fish is landed. The main operations in which women are involved include (i) fish vending, (ii) fish processing—drying and curing, (iii) prawn processing, (iv) loading and unloading, (v) net making.
116. Marketing is often done house to house or at the rural market or in towns by the women fish vendors. In areas where fish is caught in bulk, the bulk transportation to major cities is done by males. The fisherwomen travel long distances to purchase fish from wholesale markets (about 40 to 80 Km. in Bombay) and disperse to their own vending places. The problem faced by female fish vendors are (i) middlemen who treat them roughly and brutally, and cheat them in transactions; (ii) lack of ready cash/credit; (iii) problems of transportation to the market—uncertainty of transport, expensive private transport, discrimination against women in public transport and unreasonable transport charges for carrying load; (iv) exploitative market taxes (though the rates are stipulated by the local authorities, in many markets the right to collect taxes is auctioned to private persons who enhance the charges at their will); (v) the perishable nature of this commodity; (vi) the squabbles and games in the auctions, which are often not fairly conducted; (vii) the squabble for vending space, between men and women, and between women themselves; (viii) harassment by police, municipal authorities, since they are seldom granted licence; and (ix) seasonal nature of work.
117. There is hardly any fishing during the monsoons. When women are involved in large-scale vending, they have to go to distant landing centres to purchase fish. This leads to special problems as they are not permitted to travel in trains and therefore have to hire lorries, sitting for 20-24 hours with their loads to get back to their home areas.
118. Several women are engaged only in drying fish and selling it in wholesale or retail markets. The wholesaler normally takes six months to make payments. The major problem
faced by these women include: lack of regular supply of fish for drying; difficulties in procuring salt at market rates as the merchants deliberately increase the price of salt in coastal areas; lack of drying and storage space.
119. Women involved in prawn processing have special problems. They are engaged mainly in shelling, grading and packaging. Often the contractors prefer young and unmarried women displacing older fisherwomen who have no other means of livelihood. The younger women living far away from their families, are more easily exploited and controlled.
120. Women in shelling sheds are mostly engaged as casual workers earning barely Rs. 5-6 a day. Women working as graders though categorised as "skilled", get the same wages as the men who are engaged in loading and cleaning as unskilled workers. Earning of these women rarely exceeds Rs. 500 per month.
121. Large contractors often provide living quarters to fisherwomen at congested places close to the workshed or factory but far away from urban centres leading to complete isolation of the women from the outside world. Their free movement is restricted and even letters are intercepted. They often work for long hours i.e. 12 hours at a stretch beginning any time of the day or night. As contractors are not licenced, they are not covered by any legislation. The workers are engaged on casual or temporary basis or paid only in the fishing season i.e. from August to April and they have to pay for the return passage out of their own savings.
122. In the large fish landing centres, the job of loading and unloading is taken by women at a rate of one rupee per basket. Women are forced to accept such low wages because of mechanization which has reduced wages and displaced them entirely. These women have to work wading in knee-deep water with heavy loads which is hazardous. The prolonged exposure to water affects their health adversely.
123. Women engaged in net making, especially in the coastal regions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, generally buy the twine themselves, maintaining control over the entire production and marketing process. They mostly work on a putting-out system, and are paid by the kilo, earning Rs. 3-4 per eight hours of work. The major problems faced by them are low rates for piece-rate work. Their existing work is being threatening by the introduction of machines for nylon-net manufacture.
124. Women in fisheries are completely neglected. The Fisheries Departments in different States know very little about their working conditions and their needs. Fisher-women's cooperatives have come up in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, but in the absence of adequate financial and technical support from the State the cooperatives are facing difficulties.
125. Modernisation of fishing has also adversely affected the fisherwomen. It has displaced them without providing any alternative employment. There is urgent need for taking up a multi-prolonged strategy to ensure a fair deal and returns, to poor fisherwomen. It is necessary to provide protection and regeneration of fish resources, recognize the status of fisherwomen as workers, provide them licences, covered them with protective legislations for better wages and working conditions, provide them social security benefits, promote women's cooperatives, and impart them necessary education, skill and training for handling new technologies. 45
126. There are many more sectors in which female workers are equally invisible, equally neglected and equally exploited. Women workers in sericulture and silk industry, garment industry, tobacco processing, migrant workers, sweepers, devdasis, cart pullers, dock workers, dais, rag pickers, washer women, hamlas, prostitutes and even factory workers have similar stories to tell. These women have similar problems. They are invisible as workers and are therefore not recognised as workers by planners. There are no laws to protect them from exploitation, or laws are blatantly violated, or sometimes the existing laws are against them
Their working and living conditions are miserable. They are not helped even by trade unions or NGOs, and there are no programmes for their upliftment from the government either.
127. Thus the poor working females in our economy are put in a highly disadvantageous situation. Broad trends in their employment pattern show that the economic development process has not yet brought out the desired changes in their economic life. Their problems are so complex and vexing that no single approach can provide a solution. It is only through a mass based organised effort that they can hope for the much promised fair deal envisaged in the constitutional and legislative provisions. Perhaps, it may, require a total national movement exploiting, to the fullest extent, all the available institutions. Governmental and non-Governmental within the framework of micro planning. What is needed is an individualised approach, meeting the basic needs in the areas of health, education and work opportunities. The poor need to be sensitised about their rights, demand the same and fight against the oppressed and exploitative order in an organised manner.
Sex Ratio of Workers (Other than Cultivators and Agricultural Labourers) in 1971 and 1981 in Traditional, Modem and Mixed Sectors
|3.||Farmers and farm managers||146||172||90||86|
|4.||Hunters and related work||116||165||55||42|
|5.||Fishing and related work||68||64||22||29|
|6.||Shoe and leather goods making||37||40||20||25|
|2.||Nursing and other medical and health technicians||576||647||1006||1147|
|4.||Athlete, sports & related work||110||143||176||205|
|5.||Service, NCC sport and recreation works||101||118||51||91|
|6.||Composing, printing, engraving, bookbinders and related works||88||102||28||48|
|7.||Stationary engine & related equipment operators, material handling and related equipment operators||101||99||72||75|
|8.||Well drilling and related work||164||91||22|
|9.||Directors, managers, working proprietors hotel and restaurant helpers||74||86||24||35|
|10.||Chemical and related processing works||128||63||34||48|
|11.||Life scientists, physicians and surveyors||16||48||97||135|
|12.||Clerical work office machine operators. miscellaneous work||34||45||70||112|
|13.||Other professional, technical and related work||48||43||61||65|
|14.||Book-keeping, cashiers and related work||19||38||28||85|
|15.||Telephone, telegraph and related tele communications operators||51||33||200||230|
|16.||Draughtsmen, science and engineering technicians||29||31||28||50|
|18.||Chemists, physicists, geologists and other|
|19.||Pointsmen, signalmen, shunters, guards ticket|
|collectors examiners and related work||15||14||6||14|
|21.||Directors and managers, financial institutions||6||9||14||38|
|22.||Architects, engineers and surveyors||12||9||5||12|
|23.||Postmen and messengers||3||8||2||12|
|24.||Protective service workers||5||6||5||9|
|25.||Electrical fitting and related electronic work||10||6||18||20|
|26.||Drivers and firemen (railways)||4||5||1||5|
|27.||Photographers and camera operators||—||5||5||15|
|28.||Deck and engine room ratings, bars crews, boatmen||5||5||3||9|
|2.||Launderins, dry-cleaning and press||559||702||235||272|
|3.||Craftsmen and production process work||489||602||269||311|
|4.||Building caretaking sweepers, cleaners and relating work||287||415||403||444|
|5.||House-keeping (donasilation work) cooks, maids,|
|and bartenders, waitress and related work||366||390||404||518|
|6.||Spinning—weaveing' knitters' dyers and|
|7.||Glass farming, potters and related work||225||263||184||187|
|9.||Food and beverage processors||254||206||89||109|
|10.||Mining, quarrying and related work||176||195||118||75|
|11.||Workers not reporting any other occupations||184||192||49||78|
|12.||Workers reporting occupations unidentifiable|
|or inadequately described||172||181||53||116|
|13.||Bricklaying, plastering and related work||131||177||115||105|
|15.||Manufacturer's agents, salesmen, shop assistants|
|and related work||121||112||42||55|
|17.||Merchants and shop keepers||81||100||55||54|
|18.||Artists, writers and related work||98||70||101||94|
|19.||Money lenders and pawn brokers||34||54||26||43|
|21.||Directors, managers, wholesale and related trades||40||48||20||22|
|22.||Insurance, real estate, securities and business|
|services, salesmen and auctioners||22||27||15||24|
|23.||Tool makers, machinists, plumbers welders, platers|
|and related work||24||24||7||11|
|24.||Office attendants (peons, draftries)||23||23||32||39|
|25.||Administrators and executive officials||8||12||12||30|
|26.||Carpenters, Joiners, cabinet maker, scrapers|
|and related work||21||10||8||10|
|27.||Hair dressers, barbers, beauticians, and related work||6||9||6||12|
Sources: (i) Census of India 1971, Series 1, Part-H-BB(iv), Vol. I, General Economic Tables.
Table B-V, Part-A, 1977 (pp) 2-65. 1977.
(ii) Census of India 1981, Series I, Part-ll-Special, 1983 (pp) 82-189.
(iii) A Mitra et al: The Status of Women-Shifts in Occupational Partcipation 1961-71, (1980). pp 184-194.