Bhubaneswar: Lack of quality jobs and increasing wage disparity are key markers of inequality in the Indian labour market, Oxfam India’s new report ‘Mind The Gap – State of Employment in India’ revealed today. Decline in rural jobs, transforming urban areas, unequal pay, the burden of unpaid care work, and the continuing prevalence of regressive social norms are factors underlying low women’s participation in the workforce. The report was released by the Oxfam India in press club of Odisha. Eminent media persons such as sri dillip Satpathy, sri Priya ranjan sahu graced the occasion. Dr Pravas Ranjan Mishra from Oxfam India made a presentation on key findings of the report and the meeting was presided by sri Akshaya kumar Biswal, regional manager of Oxfam India.
Key findings of the report
The report also highlights that on an average, women are paid 34 per cent less than similarly qualified male workers for performing the same tasks. In 2015, 92 per cent of women and 82 per cent of men earned a monthly wage of less than INR 10,000 in India.
While the World Bank shows India having grown at an average of 7 per cent over the last two decades, employment opportunities have not kept pace with this economic expansion. The largest number of jobs continue to be generated largely in the unorganised sector or as informal vocations within the formal sector. The status quo limits the potential for upward social and economic mobility for a majority of Indians who work in low paying and often insecure jobs.
The report also assesses the role social identities such as caste and class play in determining employment for men and women, specifically in terms of stigmatised vocations such as sanitation, rag-picking, and jobs in the leather industry.
Analytical highlights contained in the report include:
• Women on average are paid 34 per cent less than similarly qualified male workers and performing the same tasks. Based on National Sample Survey Office (2011-12) estimates, in nominal terms, women earning a regular salary were paid, on average, INR 105 and INR 123 less than male workers daily in urban and rural settings, respectively; corresponding figures for casual workers were estimated at INR 72 and INR 47 for urban and rural workers.
• In 2015, 92 per cent of women and 82 per cent of men were earning a monthly wage less than INR 10,000, far below the Seventh Central Pay Commission (2013) recommendation of INR 18,000 per month.
• There is an over representation of women in unpaid care work. If unpaid care and household activities are included in the NSSO’s definition of work, the Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) in 2011-12 rises from 20.5 per cent to 81.7 per cent, more than that of men.
• Declining FLFPR comprises demand and supply side challenges: decreasing demand for farm work, relatively low employment demand from sectors that are more likely to employ women (e.g. garments), lower likelihood of working women in richer households, occupational segregation, and to some extent in rural areas, older or only daughters pursuing higher education etc.
• There is no major divergence in urban FLFPR in terms of religion; it is similar in terms of caste but occupational segregation exists with Muslim women concentrated in household manufacturing, SCs in construction and services such as waste collection while non-SCs more likely to work in education and health services.
• Urban women’s work is sectorally concentrated – 10 industries make up over half of female employment; education sector accounts for over 1 in 7 urban women workers.
• Almost half (49.5%) of married women workers work in the same industry as their husbands.
• FLFPR is location-specific – districts in Southern and NE States show higher participation but even there it is very low by international standards.
• Public interventions (e.g. access to drinking water, Ujjwala Scheme) help women spend more time engaged in paid work; family nuclearisation has increased time poverty.
• The propensity of rural women to look for work has risen steadily with an increase in the number of female members in the household between 2001 and 2011; the trend is noticeable for urban households as well.
• Rural labour markets are strongly structured and regulated by gender, caste and class identities. Traditional occupations by caste continue to persist in rural India e.g. Women belonging to Mahadalit community assist with child-birth, richer Baniyas own shops and small businesses while poorer ones serve as vendors or peddlers; discrimination appears to exist in terms of prices and market participation e.g. milk produced by Dalit families, who also do not produce milk products as the latter is the preserve of the Ahirs, fetches a lower price.
• With outward and seasonal migration towards non-farm employment of male family members, 75 per cent of rural women are engaged in agriculture. However, they are relegated to low wage labour roles such as weeding, threshing, and paddy transplantation. Such roles, in many cases, are characterised by degrees of unfreedom.