Women are more likely to be unpaid workers, wage workers; in low-productivity activities, in the informal sector and work part time. Women are generally expected by men to balance work with domestic responsibilities. Informal workers lack protection under legal or regulatory frameworks in terms of wages, working hours, and unemployment benefits. Women tend to be concentrated in the lowest paid, least secure roles. Part time work – associated with lower hourly wages, less job security, less training and promotion opportunities. Women are less likely to be represented in trade unions. For example, in India 93% of women in rural areas and 77.2% of women in urban areas are informal workers (Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2018-19).
Decision making – Women are significantly underrepresented in decision-making positions such as legislators, senior officials, and managers, but are overrepresented as domestic workers, positions that are characterized by low pay, long hours and lack of social protection. Across all sectors and occupations, women on average earn less than men; in most countries, women in full-time jobs earn between 70 and 90 per cent of what men earn.
In India, the participation at work for men stood at 67% in 2022, compared to 33% for women (Statista). Moreover, during the pandemic lockdowns, only 19% of women were able to continue their jobs, with 47% facing permanent job loss due to the informal nature of women’s work. This is whilst 61% of men remained employed and only 7% lost employment (Arora, 2022).
Discriminatory gender norms – women are seen by men as economic dependents so can be paid less and their work is less valued and less visible.
Given the challenges of the many ways in which women, men and children can be socially and economically marginalised, working with women in communities to strengthen their livelihood options is an essential part of the work of partners.
Securing Land Rights and Livelihoods for Fisher Folk – Chilika Lake, Odisha
Action Village India continues to support the ‘Securing Land Rights and Livelihoods for Fisherfolk’ project based around Chilika Lake, Odisha, which started in January 2019. This three-year project, run by Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC) in collaboration with Gopinath Juvak Sangha (GJS), aims to reduce rural poverty and landlessness of 1,000 families from fishing communities in 30 villages in and around the Chilika Lake of Odisha. This is achieved by enabling families, and particularly women, to gain access to and ownership over land resources through advocacy and support and by providing alternative livelihoods support. 400 further women will also be supported through pilot phases of alternative livelihoods initiatives.
Centre for Rural Systems and Development (CRUSADE)
CRUSADE aims to build secure, productive and just communities in rural Tamil Nadu, working through 130 villages with a population of 200,000 people in the two development blocks of Minjur and Sholavarm in rural Tiruvallur District, north of Chennai. The initial activities of CRUSADE involved forming women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) through which the groups accessed health care and advice, community support and savings schemes. Having successfully formed self-sustaining and viable SHGs with their own established trust, CRUSADE began to facilitate the groups’ political participation in the local Panchayat Institutions and to extend its self-help groups to include the poorest people, including the elderly, widows, those from unscheduled castes and people living with a disability.
People with disabilities around the world, especially in developing countries, are among the poorest of the poor. Poverty and disability are strongly interrelated. Poor people are more likely to have a disability because of the conditions in which they live and their limited opportunities for health care. Discrimination compounds the problem. Women and girls with disabilities experience double discrimination, which places them at higher risk of gender-based violence, sexual abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation. In India, people with disabilities are amongst the most excluded in society and although there is support available, it is still underserved in rural areas.
The Centre for Rural Systems and Development (CRUSADE) has witnessed the rapid progress the state of Tamil Nadu is making in building infrastructure and enhancing incomes in general, but these developments have to date, sidelined the poorest groups in society, especially disabled women and men, increasing their vulnerability.
‘From Disability to Stability’ aims to reduce social discrimination against people with disabilities and ensure they are integrated into society, so that they can participate in daily life like all other citizens. CRUSADE has been supporting people with disabilities by giving them access to employment, allowances and aid from the state and providing better housing and medical care.Securing Land Rights and Livelihoods for Fisher Folk - Chilika Lake, Odisha Centre for Rural Systems and Development (CRUSADE)