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  • Author: Farzana Afridi, Amrita Dhillon, Sanchari Roy
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper studies the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the gendered dimensions of employment and mental health among urban informal-sector workers in India. First, we find that men’s employment declined by 84 percentage points post-pandemic relative to pre-pandemic, while their monthly earnings fell by 89 per cent relative to the baseline mean. In contrast, women did not experience any significant impact on employment post pandemic, as reported by their husbands. Second, we document very high levels of pandemic-induced mental stress, with wives reporting greater stress than husbands. Third, this gendered pattern in pandemic-induced mental stress is partly explained by men’s employment losses, which affected wives more than husbands. In contrast, staying employed during the pandemic is associated with worse mental health for women and their (unemployed) husbands. Fourth, pre-existing social networks are associated with higher mental stress for women relative to men, possibly due to the ‘home-based’ nature of women’s networks.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Employment, Mental Health, COVID-19, Informal Economy, Social Networks
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Marie Hyland, Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: reater legal equality between men and women is associated with a narrower gender gap in opportunities and outcomes, fewer female workers in positions of vulnerable employment, and greater political representation for women. While legal equality is on average associated with better outcomes for women, the experience of individual countries may differ significantly from this average trend, depending on the countries’ stage of development (as proxied by per capita GDP). Case studies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Spain demonstrate this deviation. Especially in developing countries, legislative measures may not necessarily translate into actual empowerment, due mainly to deeply entrenched social norms, which render legal reforms ineffective. Women are more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in low- and lower-middle-income economies but less likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in upper-middle- and high-income economies. Analysis of a 50-year panel of gendered laws in 190 countries reveals that country attributes that do not vary or change only slowly over time—such as a country’s legal origin, form of government, geographic characteristics, and dominant religion—explain a very large portion of the variation across countries. This finding suggests that the path to legal equality between men and women may be a long and arduous one. Nevertheless, the data also show that the past five decades have seen considerable progress toward legal gender equality. Gendered laws do evolve, suggesting a role for legal reforms in women’s economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Law, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, South Asia, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain
  • Author: Rosa Abraham, Amit Basole, Surbhi Kesar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions in labour markets across the world including loss of employment and decline in incomes. Using panel data from India, we investigate the differential impact of the shock on labour market outcomes for male and female workers. We find that, conditional on being in the workforce prior to the pandemic, women were seven times more likely to lose work during the nationwide lockdown, and conditional on losing work, eleven times more likely to not return to work subsequently, compared to men. Using logit regressions on a sample stratified by gender, we find that daily wage and young workers, whether men or women, were more likely to face job loss. Education shielded male workers from job loss, whereas highly educated female workers were more vulnerable to job loss. Marriage had contrasting effects for men and women, with married women less likely to return to work and married men more likely to return to work. Religion and gender intersect to exacerbate the disproportionate impact, with Muslim women more likely to not return to work, unlike Muslim men where we find religion having no significant impact. Finally, for those workers who did return to work, we find that a large share of men in the workforce moved to self-employment or daily wage work, in agriculture, trade or construction. For women, on the other hand, there is limited movement into alternate employment arrangements or industries. This suggests that typical ‘fallback’ options for employment do not exist for women. During such a shock, women are forced to exit the workforce whereas men negotiate across industries and employment arrangements.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment, Labor Market
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Shamindra Nath Roy, Partha Mukhopadhyay
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India is one of the lowest globally in terms of female labour force participation (FLFP), ranking only better than Pakistan in South Asia. While the decline in FLFP in rural areas is starkly visible, the urban FLFP has been consistently low since the 1980s despite higher economic growth and increasing level of education among females. The economic cost of such low FLFP (16.8%) is huge and if, for instance, it could be raised to the level of FLFP in China (61.5%), it has the potential to raise India’s GDP up to 27%. This paper attempts to investigate the structural deficiencies behind this consistently low urban FLFP through a variety of perspectives, ranging from measuring the complexity of women’s work to the implications of caste, location and family structure. It finds factors like presence of female-friendly industries, provision of regular salaried jobs and policies that cater to women’s needs to work near home like availability of part-time work, can improve the situation, though prejudices arising from patriarchy require to be addressed to make these measures truly transformative and not palliative.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Joachim Betz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite being a consolidated democracy with free and fair elections and having a political system with intense party competition, a relatively vibrant civil society, and a functioning federal set-up, India still ranks poorly in terms of the coverage, generosity, efficiency, and quality of its social protection. This is difficult to explain based on the factors usually advanced for the implementation of generous social policies. A second puzzle is the predominantly protective nature of welfare policies in India in the current era of globalisation, which should necessitate policies enabling workers to participate successfully in a more demanding economic environment. These puzzles may be explained partly by (a) the long-term insulation of the Indian economy from international competition, (b) the low share of industry and modern services in GDP until recently, (c) the precedence of identity policies, (d) the fragmentation of the political sphere, and (e) the meagre empowerment of women in India. We should, however, acknowledge that change is underway and that the picture is not bleak across India as a whole – being supported by economic reforms and growth, a greater degree of decentralisation and party competition within the country, increasingly discerning voters, and progress on female education and employment opportunities.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Reform, Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Globally, research has shown that, there is a high correlation between the level of per capita income and the rate of female labour force participation. At the same time the agency and autonomy of women in a country improve with the level of female labour force participation. Sen (2000) has argued that the autonomy and agency of women in a society and their empowerment is enabled by four conditions in their lives. First the higher the education level of women, the more empowered they are likely to feel. Second, if they are working outside the home, they are likely to feel a sense of autonomy and empowerment. Third, they should also have an independent source of income from that of the significant other in their household. Finally, their empowerment can be usually enhanced if they own assets and have access to them. One can see from this analysis that the first three requirements for women’s’ empowerment are related to each other and to some extent co-dependent. We will keep these considerations in mind as we analyse labour markets and how women engaged with them in different parts of the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment, Inequality
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra, Sharmistha Sinha
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: A continuous and sharp decline in the already depressed female labour force participation rate in India post 2005, particularly in the face of its rapid economic growth raises questions about the inclusiveness of the growth process. The paper recommends a set of policies based on the analysis of the nature and trends of female work participation and a brief analysis of the underlying reasons behind such trends. Women are moving out of the low productivity agricultural sector, which necessitates an increase in employment opportunities in the nonagricultural sector, particularly in rural and in semi-urban locations. Improving skills for employability, especially in manufacturing clusters (which is where the jobs are) located close to young girls’ rural homes, would help the females to join the labour force if non-agricultural jobs are growing. To release women from unpaid work in the household to join the paid labour force, it is essential to improve child care facilities and other basic service facilities, which again calls for raising the share of public expenditure in some sectors and specific facilities. For instance, increasing single working women’s housing, making public transport safer, and modifying public programmes to cater to women’s needs can pave the way for more women to engage and remain in the labour force, become active participants in the growth process, and thus achieve greater economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: K.R. Meera
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the Advanced Study of India
  • Abstract: If one wants to understand gender changes in India over the past 25 years, the life narratives of the women of my generation would be the best examples. We have seen and experienced the paradox called India. We have contributed to its complexities, while empowering ourselves in the process. We have been struggling to evolve into more responsible citizens and complete human beings. I am an Indian citizen, a literate woman, a post-graduate, and an independent professional. Just like many other women in India, my life has undergone tremendous political, legal, and social changes over the past 25 years. These formative changes have not been linear; rather, they can be compared to the sides of a Rubik’s cube. Any change in one had repercussions on the others. When the Mandal Commission report granting 27 percent reservation to Other Backward Castes was accepted by the V. P. Singh government in 1991, the resulting alarm of reduced accessibility to government jobs was one of the factors that prompted me to accept at job at a Malayalam newspaper, my first job in media. Located in Kottayam, I was the first woman sub-editor to be appointed to the editorial of that newspaper in its 108 years of existence. CMS College, the very first college in Kottayam and the second oldest in the country, was established in 1815. Kottayam is hailed as the land of letters because it is also a leading publishing hub, home to the head offices of three newspapers, including the two oldest ones in Malayalam. One of the factors that made my appointment possible was the impact of economic liberalization that India initiated in early 1990s. Whether or not it was a coincidence, I received the appointment in July 1993, just after India ratified the constitution of the National Commission For Women and the Convention the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. In 1993, I walked alone after dark, for the first time in my life and travelled in auto rickshaws all by myself even after six o’clock at night. Until then, going outside after six o’clock in the evening had been strictly discouraged all my life. I realized soon that no residential hostel for women in Kottayam would allow its guests to check in after seven o’clock in the evening. Likewise, it was next to impossible for a single young woman to rent out a house anywhere in Kottayam or easily check into a hotel. It took me yet another year to check into a hotel all by myself and that was possible only because I had the care of address of my newspaper. After my appointment, my newspaper recruited more women journalists; there were a few senior women at some of the other newspapers but they were largely unknown to the outside world. The only woman reporter we knew was Leela Menon, a correspondent for the English daily, The Indian Express. By 1994, after the launch of the first privately owned television channel that year—which was also the second in India—, the number of women journalists in the media steadily increased. In 1995, I flew for the first time to a USIS conference. Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a Justice in the U.S. Supreme Court, was the chief guest. I stayed in a five star hotel and attended a formal dinner—all first time experiences. The same year, I purchased my first two wheeler, a scooter, with a vehicle loan from my office, and inadvertently became the first woman in Kottayam to ride a scooter in the wee hours of the day! The purpose of this rather detailed elucidation is not to claim I represent all the women of India. No single woman can represent all the women of India. One can safely surmise that the changes in my life would be representative of a large cross section of women in the vast and rigid “middle class” of Kerala who hold the unique distinction of being modern and traditional at the same time. These women were born and brought up in a state hailed as the model state of India with the lowest infant mortality rate, lowest population growth, highest literacy, and highest life expectancy. To be sure, there are hundreds more liberated women in many parts of India who overcame the barriers of gender and were liberated in every sense of the term. Sadly, millions of women are yet to travel alone, participate in a strike, or even attend a school. Many of these women are condemned to give birth every single year in the hope of a male child. And even today, millions of women throughout India, have to wait until after dark to answer the call of nature. Many have no concept of safe sanitation or, even worse, have to sleep on the pavement with a stick next to them to drive away the stray dogs as well as potential rapists. The uniqueness of India shines forth in its complexities and contradictions. The past twenty five years have been bustling with changes. These initial political and legal sparks of change eventually roared into flames over the past five years and have played a critical role in changing the gender parity in India.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Social Movement, Feminism
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Erin K. Fletcher, Rohini Pande, Charity Troyer Moore
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Sustained high economic growth since the early 1990s has brought significant change to the lives of Indian women, and yet female labor force participation has stagnated at under 30%, and recent labor surveys even suggest some decline since 2005. Using a nationally representative household survey, we lay out five descriptive facts about female labor force participation in India that help identify constraints to higher participation. First, there is significant demand for jobs by women currently not in the labor force. Second, willing female non-workers have difficulty matching to jobs. Third, obtaining vocational training is correlated with a higher likelihood of working among women. Fourth, women are more likely to be working in sectors where the gender wage gap and unexplained wage gap, commonly attributed to discrimination, is higher. Finally, female-friendly policies, including quotas, are correlated with higher female participation in some key sectors. Combining these facts with a review of the literature, we map out important areas for future investigation and highlight how policies such as employment quotas and government initiatives focused on skilling and manufacturing should be better investigated and leveraged to increase women’s economic activity.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economic Growth, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Susan Esme Chaplin
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Even though sanitation was established as a separate human right by the United Nations General Assembly in January 2016, there has an been overall failure to reduce by half the proportion of the global population without access to basic sanitation (Millennium Development Goal 7, Target C). The Sustainable Development Goals have targets of gender equality, and the sustainable and universal provision of sanitation. Hopefully this will mean increased attention being given to the interests and well-being of poor women and girls living in slums and informal settlements who still lack access to adequate sanitation. The sanitation needs of women and girls are different from those of men and boys because of the former’s requirements of personal safety, dignity and menstrual hygiene; there is also the issue of the disproportionate burden of unpaid labour in managing household sanitary needs. These inequalities in urban sanitation access have a great impact on the health, well-being and socio-economic status of women and girls. These inequalities continue to exist despite efforts to make the needs of poor urban women and girls an integral part of sanitation policies and project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Despite the emphasis of low-income countries on gender inequalities and sanitation in their development goals, programmes and projects, there is still only a limited number of qualitative and quantitative evidence-based research articles available focusing on gender and sanitation continue to be available. This number further decreases when it comes to gender and urban sanitation in the Global South. The grey literature is more numerous, particularly that commissioned by international development agencies and non-government organisations. Missing from much of this evidence-based and grey literature are studies on the broader social, economic and environmental impacts on poor women and girls of daily life without access to adequate and safe sanitation. This means that there is very little evidence-based literature which examines how these inequalities in sanitation access affect the lives of poor women and girls who have to queue each morning to use public toilets, or decide which open defecation (OD) sites are the least dangerous to use. Also missing are studies on the socio-economic, health and well-being impacts on and coping strategies of women working in the informal sector, poor women and girls with a disability, elderly women, adolescent girls and homeless women or those living on the pavements, who all lack access to adequate and safe sanitation facilities. These sanitation inequalities are exemplified by the time poor women and girls have to spend each morning queueing to use the toilet or getting up earlier to go with other women to OD sites. The necessity for such actions furthers gender inequalities because it puts at risk the time women have available for paid employment and other household responsibilities. Truelove (2011, p. 148) has argued that this ‘curtailment of opportunities (from income to education) due to water and sanitation activities reinforces a further level of physical insecurity and emotional violence, as some women become locked in a feedback cycle that brings them into distinct spaces and networks in order to access water and sanitation’. Women and girls living in slums often report instances of gender-based violence, shame and loss of dignity when walking along badly lit narrow paths to poorly designed and maintained community toilets or places of OD (Bapat & Agarwal 2003, Lennon 2011, McFarlane 2015, SHARE 2015 and Amnesty International 2010a). Phadke, Khan & Ranade (2011, p. 85), in a study of women and risk in Mumbai, have suggested that ‘[what] the lack of public toilets says is that women are less equal citizens than men and don’t deserve the same consideration’ in the design of urban spaces and the provision of urban infrastructures such as sanitation facilities. These gender inequalities continue to exist despite the use of the concept of ‘gender mainstreaming’ in water and sanitation projects since the mid-1990s, which was designed to make the needs of women and girls an integral part of sanitation policies and project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Instead, gender has become a term that is widely used in project documents and organisational policy documents ‘but is little theorised and ill-defined in most projects and supporting policy documents’ (O‘Reilly 2010, p. 49). Gender, according to the Water and Sanitation Program (2010, p. 9): is a concept that refers to socially constructed roles, behaviour, activities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate and ascribes to men and women. These distinct roles and the relations between them may give rise to gender inequalities where one group is systematically favoured and holds advantages over another. Inequality in the position of men and women can and has worked against societies.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Water, Urbanization, Women, Inequality, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia