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30 May 2020

SEWA Bharat

India: SEWA Bharat releases report titled "Gendered Precarity in the Lockdown"; findings show stark pay disparities and underrepresentation of women workers

"Gendered precarity in the lockdown: what the lockdown shows us about the precarity of women workers", May 2020

Across the length and breadth of the country, women in the informal economy are shouldering the burden of the nationwide lockdown with little to no effort made to alleviate their concerns. Women in the informal economy comprise 94% of the female labour force in India. The voices of these women are neglected in most of the discourse surrounding the adverse impacts of the lockdown, ranging from migrant women who are undercounted as migrants1 to women farmers not being able to access the curfew relaxations their male counterparts can.

...14 SEWA Bharat staff members over two weeks in April conducted a phone survey to capture the experiences of women in the informal economy to better understand the gendered consequences of the national lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. This was the second survey during the lockdown, building on a previous sample of 75 in March 2020, and will be a part of a series of data collection efforts. In this iteration, SEWA staff members who had been trained by the research team, spoke to 300 members, spread across multiple states and occupations to better understand some of the gendered nuances of the lockdown on the informal economy. Respondents weren’t financially compensated but the data was used to channel relief efforts by SEWA and their partners to the communities in need. We focused on effects on incomes, savings, assets, education, food security, substance use, and health. The findings suggest that women indeed suffer disproportionately whether through impact on their incomes, savings, mental health, or access to healthcare.