COVID-19: Presently, the world is facing difficult times. The pandemic has posed a big challenge for most countries worldwide. The employment sector has taken a big blow and there is an increase in unemployment. Studies have proved that the ones who will most be affected are the casual workers and the ones who are self-employed.
What is the worrying factor is that India has almost three-quarters of the employed are non-regular, that is, they are either engaged in casual work or are self-employed. Women are more than men in this non-regular employment.
You can say that India has been hit badly. Firstly, the health-care systems are overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic, and secondly, are the unemployment issue. This massive unemployment, more so for the women, can result in gender inequality
According to a report published in the Indian Express this week indicates that there is a fall in the participation of women in the workforce. This states that the participation of women according to the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) is at a low for the first time in 8 years.
COVID-19 is pushing women out of the informal and formal economies and this reverses the progress that was made over the past few decades.
Women dominated many informal industries but have now withdrawn from these. These sectors are agricultural labor, weeding work, domestic work beedi making and waste work.
A lot of women in all the segments reported a massive dip in their savings for being able to sustain their families. Many of them even had to borrow for survival. State support offered was minimal.
Due to the migration of labor and the lockdown, many of the women are not being allowed to go back to work and others are not confident about the return journey being safe.
You find men replacing the jobs of women slowly. Many sectors that were dominated by women have not even opened up.
Opportunities for employment have gone down considerably and the required safe options for traveling are not available. Most of the migrant laborers returning are mostly men.
Most workplaces, like construction sites, have placed a specific condition that the laborers who need to work; have to go for a compulsory quarantine of 14 days. This will be on their personal expenses.
As these laborers have to spend on their quarantine, they are cramping in small spaces and taking a big risk to avoid exorbitant rents. This risk cannot be taken by women.
It is important the State Government initiates awareness campaigns for cultivating a positive attitude towards the women who join the labor force.
The local bodies can open more crèches in cities and towns and this can be done with help from the state government.
The report states that women will not be able to support and also sustain their households. This can work out only if the government makes an effort to include them in the offered relief packages and other welfare schemes.