• Ritwik Mehta

Women's labour force participation in India

“The worker is the slave of the capitalist society; the female worker is the slave of that slave.”

Laborers, migrant workers, factory workers, farmers are all backbone to our nation’s economy. Their endless contribution has always been the most valuable asset for our country. In this pandemic, we faced a shortage of necessary facilities as they stopped working!

For them, hard work is the only key to earn for a living, and we have no idea about the midnight oil burnt by them each day. Be it a man or a woman; they always feel that the amount of work done by them is never enough for their livelihood.

Majorly both husband and wife work in fields, construction sites, factories for a living but the only difference is that there the woman has two different worlds to handle; one where she works for someone, earns a penny and the other, where she works as a homemaker, looks after her family and receives nothing! 

Life of a woman is full of compromises, sacrifices, hard work, and what else. Sometimes she has to work as a substitute in the field until late, whereas sometimes she has to do household chores and take care of her children until late at night.

In worse times, she has even been beaten up by her drunk husband after coming back, all tired from work. It’s hard to imagine the pain borne by her in these situations.

While talking to one of the female workers, She said, “I earn Rs 150 per day for working as a mistri at construction sites whereas he earns Rs200 for the same work, Why so?” Yes, in a similar way, a woman is still facing inequality. Often, they don’t even receive flexible hours and thereby end up working for the same hours as men.

Meeting random rude, arrogant, disrespectful behavior by the head many a time becomes part of their daily routine. Although this gender pay gap is being narrowed by the efforts made by government, activists, and policymakers but still there’s a need to introspect whether efforts made by us are enough or not. 

Waking up at 4, cleaning the house, if fortunate enough then sending children to school, going to work, working efficiently at the place, taking care of the family after coming back home, finishing off with household chores, sleep and then repeat; this is how her day looks like!

During this routine, she doesn’t even get time to have her meals properly and take care of herself. During menstruation wherein one of the days a woman suffers cramps, back pain, feels nauseous all day, etc., that female worker doesn’t have the liberty to take at least a day off as she has to run her house with that daily wage only.

Due to lack of awareness, medication, or money, sometimes that female worker cannot afford a single sanitary pad, too! Instead, they use other alternatives which are somehow harmful to their health.

In this pandemic, where there is barely any source of income for them, the woman is still unable to sleep as she thinks about affording medication, taking care of her small children, getting some income for basic food and household, etc. Even the man is not able to sleep now due to prevailing situations; he feels helpless.  

After all, what all the female worker desires is some respect and money they deserve! They want people around whom they work to be helpful and kind to them. Some respect and support from her husband and family would bring a smile on her face.

Initiatives by NGO’s, communities, groups of activists where they are making endless efforts for providing all necessary amenities to them whether be it food, medication, shelter, awareness makes them feel supported. They are the ones who are making our lives comfortable by shedding their blood every day. Rather than considering themselves as a slave, we should make sure that they find themselves an honorable citizen of the nation. To all the workers, you are precious!

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