Topic: Urbanization and its impacts on Women
Qn. “ Participation of Urban Women in employment related activities in the Urban areas remain dismal” – Examine the statement in the context of the need for an Urban Employment Policy.What in your Opinion should be the broad points of such a policy to increase the participation of Urban Women in the workforce ? (250 words)
Why this Question ?
The question is framed in the context of the editorial in today’s Hindu Newspaper that brings out the plight of women in finding avenues of Urban Employment.The editorial also discusses about ways to improve the employability of women in urban areas
The answer for the question needs to bring out the reasons for low levels of women employment in Urban areas. The second part of the question has to be suggestive in nature to remedy this problem by means of having a policy for increasing women participation in the workforce.
The introduction for the question could address the situation in urban areas in broad and general terms.
COVID-19 has seriously disrupted the employment situation in urban areas . With many normal business activities coming to a grinding halt, women who have earlier been employed as domestic maids, household service providers have now found themselves without alternative employment opportunities. National Sample Survey Data in 2019 had pointed out that only about 20% of the urban women in the age group of 15-59 years are employed. The reasons for low levels of employment of women in Urban areas are many.
Unlike rural areas, where women can find work in the agriculture and primary sector, in the Urban areas there is a severe lack of opportunities of employment in Urban areas. Urban Work is primarily focused on a specific skill level and since women (uneducated and semi-educated) do not have any particular skillset, a bulk of the urban women remain unemployed.
2. Need to focus on domestic work and family responsibility.
Absence of support structures in the urban areas confine women to their households to take care of children and to take care of domestic work.
In contrast to rural areas, where family support systems can help in taking care of the children in the household thus making women free to engage in agricultural work.
3. Lack of Policy interventions
Unlike MGNREGS in the rural areas that guarantees employment avenues for women in the lean season, there is no similar policy for guaranteeing employment for women in the Urban areas. The SHG movement that is widespread in the rural areas are also not widespread in the urban areas in most states.
4. Masculinity associated with urban Jobs:
Urban occupations such as carpentry, painting, electrical works have been for so long the avenues of employment for men. We hardly find women employed in these areas. The problem of employing women in these activities remains a chicken or egg problem.
What can be the policy interventions to employ women in the Urban areas ?
Using Job stamps
The Government can propose issuing “Job Stamps” on the same lines as that of food coupons for PDS system. These Job Stamps can be given to different public institutions such as schools and hospitals that require a continuous support system of staff to take care of various activities in their premises such as maintainence and house keeping. These job stamps can be subsidized by the Government and can be issued to the women who are employed in these institutions for redemption in banks.
Such an intervention can help women who are trained through different employment and skill development programs to find sustained avenues of employment in the urban areas.
Such an approach can help expand the nature of jobs in which only men are employed presently. This first step of issuing job stamps for specific works such as carpentry, painting etc with a condition that only women can be employed can open up avenues of employment for women in these men related sectors.
These job stamps can also be linked to part time work . Eg. A job stamp of 4 hours of work can provide meaningful employment to women who may not entirely work full time due to domestic responsibilites.
Support structures for Women at workplaces :-
Access to separate toilet facilities still remain a distant dream even in many urban areas in developed states. Women if provided with creche facilities in every neighbourhood can carry on their work responsibilities with a peace of mind thus enabling them to pursue different occupations in the urban areas
Suitable interventions on the side of the Government can help in providing women with meaningful employment opportuinites for Urban Women thus empowering them. Women employment in urban areas has been the binary between high paying office and white collar jobs and menial domestic maid. It is time for the Government to step in with necessary measures to remedy this problem and improve the participation of women in urban activities from the current employment rate of 20%.
Such an untapped potential is a dead weight in the urban areas decreasing the general productivity of the urban areas.