India’s predicament of uplifting livelihood has been vigilant across the world, but we might not have a sniff of the ultimate sufferers during the pandemic. Probably, the repercussions magnified to another level across the rural communities, predominantly among women. India ranks one of the lowest positions in female labor force participation rates across the world. The proportion of rural women indulging in industrial work is monumental compared to the urban. It is ultimately kosher that they had been significantly bothered by the pandemic’s emergence, forcing them out of work.
Before a detailed discussion on the probe, we need to perceive a prudent look at the statistics covered by India’s top diplomats. Pre-Covid, the rural women occupied more than 25 percent vacancies in the workforce versus 18 percent of the urban forces. The precarious situation during March-April 2020 had India in deepening trouble, and its bearings were borne massively by rural women.
The nationwide lockdown got enforced, and India’s rural sector lost their jobs, incomes, brimming on the strive for survival. According to reports, 15.4 million women lost their workforce’s place, out of which three-fourth belong to the rural community. The contemplation exonerates the dignity of women in the industrial sector as they have got bundled over the pressure of economical and social disparities.
The initial steep fall recouped its grip as rural women’s employment in India observed massive steps towards attaining the pre-covid levels. The silver lining existed momentarily as the clench cloaked over the disastrous second wave.
Preceding the turmoil, urban women were bestowed into rural work, and the headway was ferociously unexpected. During April 2020, the urban employment level in India had discerned a dipping perpetuation as it fell by 19.6 percent. As a result, the rural women’s workforce participation experienced a shocking upheave, and it was the aftermath of the quandary. The heavyweight bearings were emphatic across women compared to men, who overlooked a slight grimace of the catastrophic pandemic. The question is, why such inequality? Probably, Gender- Pay gap issues across many others.
Over the past 15 months of the tormenting pandemic, the corporations have progressed their energies in revolutionizing equal employee rights in India. However, their shot has failed miserably. When the second wave struck, the trepidations were frightening as it banished 5.7 million rural women’s jobs in April 2021. The drastic upheavals in the numbers of women opting out of jobs were staggering. Due to the tendency of their household responsibilities, their less participation in the workforce became inevitable. More than 80 percent of job losses in April 2021 got engrossed by rural women versus 11 percent last year.
Why India’s Rural Women Came Across As Such a Mammoth Victim of the Second Wave?
Well, consulting across 50 women organizations has helped Nikore Associates forming a dipstick survey. According to the report presented, rural women’s nemesis could subject to eminent reasons. Foremostly, the encumbrance of the unpaid care work increased as a collective stagnant across the rural community. However, in India, gender inequality prognosis has caused severe misbalance in the workload apprehension. While women worked five hours per day on unpaid care work, it got reduced to one hour complying with men.
The inadequacy of the health infrastructure coalesced with the harsh implications during the second wave meant that rural women had to pull out ferocious paid work. The unforeseen barbarity of the sufferings meant that the infections spiked in the rural areas, which wasn’t the case across the first wave. It is kosher that the overriding of our households is well-dealt within the presence of women. Consultations with various self-help groups mobilizers across states helped to have a synopsis about the current scenario and how tranquility changed into turbulence for India’s rural women.
Venturing in dark was bizarre yet courageous propaganda for women, and it has been perceived as a longstanding issue even before the pandemic. As the lockdown got enforced fully-fledged, the survey dissipated that rural women had been constrained in traveling in search of jobs to urban sectors. It was a situation like never seen before.
Summing up, the troublesome intensified when the market access became limited and the women gauging their agricultural products weren’t able to sell at mandis and nearby wholesale markets. The perturbation reached irrecoverable damage as the depletion of women’s identification became likely across segments.
Lastly, the MGNREGA accommodations, which serve as a lifeline for rural women vanished as the pandemic emerged in India. Initially, while India focused on the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, rural women incorporated more than half of the vacancies under the government scheme as the budget allocation ramped up by 1.1 lakh crore. Who knew that the tide would change drastically? During April and May 2021, India’s precarious situation had reached a dire state, and as the allocation also dropped by 34.5 percent, rural women’s exoneration got nowhere to hide.
According to the consensus, the women forfeited their jobs complying with their duties and were accustomed to venturing space for their male counterparts. The trend has been followed nimbly across India’s industrial and rural sectors. If it was not enough for dispensing women, the reversal of migrant workers’ conviction became pernicious. Rural women are losing their place and have got commuted by male migrant members in agriculture.
The first wave triggered some of the most astonishing cracks in India’s approach towards its labor sector. The credible fret of the elongated unemployment swirled in, combined with the ever-increasing healthcare expenses during coronavirus has left the rural space staggered. So much so that the women got coerced to endeavor the opportunities of low-paying, labor-intensive work.
How can India’s government transpose the stumbling of unemployed rural women?
The stalling of the pandemic’s second wave seems to be gradually receding, but valiant efforts need to get undertaken to switch the gender diversity cycle. Government must rally its energies in eliminating the bumpy road and pivoting a sustainable gender-inclusive economic recovery path. The commencement of alleviating a million problems should begin with the unemployed rural women.
Public investments have tracked its way off as it lacks the prowess of boosting these schemes, which is paramount for maximizing the high job creation potential. Fabricating an equivocal balance is the mandate, and that needs to formulate real quick. Women SHGs should get invigorated by the local authoritative bodies to disseminate their procurements of personal protective equipment to the rural healthcare departments.
India’s proportion of frontline healthcare workers comprises more women, and that is why they must be appropriately recognized as equal and obtain paid adequate monthly wages for their commitments to helping the country in an exceedingly dire state of affairs. The barred woman farmers have recouped because the most vulnerable segment and may be induced to the cash-based social protection schemes to uplift their living standards. Not only wouldn’t it motivate unemployed rural women to proactively participate within the workforce, but it’ll bolster India’s notion of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.