Gender Inequality in education and gendered labour markets worldwide. Women’s participation in the workforce is limited to a very low-grade of jobs, which are often low-skilled. Being in low skilled jobs limits their opportunities for future training or upskilling to meet the demands of digitisation and automation, putting them at a high risk of unemployment in the changing labour market conditions.
Women’s Conditions At Work
Women who are construction workers clock in 17 hours of work a day, across construction sites, in their households, and in accessing basic facilities, leading to adverse consequences for their physical and mental wellbeing. They walk 10 kilometres, and lift and carry 3,000 kilograms. They only get to rest for 40 minutes during the entire day. They then carry heavy 20 litre canisters of water back and forth from their living spaces. Women workers in RCC work do not get any breaks during their workshift, and are allowed to stop only when the machine stops. They spend 5 hours on household reproduction and care work alone, including cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, child care and fetching and collecting water, fuel etc.
Drawbacks of Women’s Livelihood
- Women living in open spaces are forced to go for work even when they are ill.
- They avoid going to the hospital accessing healthcare costs them between Rs. 350-1000 in the city for a single visit.
- They suffers pain in their limbs and joints, severe headaches, and abdominal pain.
- They attribute this to the heavy weights that they have to lift throughout the day and lack of rest.
- Women are only allowed to spend only 35 minutes a day exclusively on childcare.
- Large number of women and children at construction sites across the city remain completely invisible from government mandated maternal and childcare, especially ante/post natal care and vaccinations.
- They often resort to feeding toddlers fried chips in order to satiate their hunger.
Azad Foundation Steps Towards Women’s Empowerment
Women’s challenges like stagnating job market and rising unemployment levels. Tthere is need to move beyond the traditional conservative approaches to skilling and livelihood. There is a learning from non-traditional livelihoods for women such as professional driving because it constitutes a challenge to gendered notions of work and skilling, creates mobility, remunerative incomes and a sense of identity and dignity. Azad Foundation provides livelihoods with dignity for resource-poor women living in urban areas in India.They are driven by the vision of a world where all women, in particular women from underprivileged backgrounds enjoy full citizenship, earn with dignity and generate wealth and value for all. They are a professional feminist organization working across religious and social divides to enable resource-poor to women empower themselves.
Their “Women’s on Wheels” is a successful flagship programme that trains women to become professional drivers and helps them to achieve financial independence. They trained women about self-defense, women’s rights, personal grooming, skilled in driving to make them self sufficient and live with dignity.
Their Sakha Cabs employee these women as a chauffeur. This boosts their morale and drives towards dignity, independent with self-respect. This initiative has enabled more than 1600 underprivileged women to be employed as a chauffeur in the transport industry.
Hence, Azad Foundation strive to level the employment field for disadvantaged women by providing bold livelihoods options that enhance women’ economic status, dignity, and decision-making within their families.