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Struggling for Survival in Urban Spaces: Women’s Paid and Unpaid Work in Selected Indian Slums

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Urban Spaces and Gender in Asia

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Abstract

Despite improvements, the data collected by the Census and NSS show very low work participation by women. While male workers are estimated to be above 50% of the male population, the Census and NSS estimate the workforce participation rate for females to be only around 15% in urban areas. This makes a large proportion of women workers and their work statistically invisible. In order to understand the extent and nature of women’s work and their contribution to GDP, in-depth interviews were conducted with women in a few slums in different parts of India. The data collected from the selected slums shows that most women living in slums are engaged in a large range of economic activities to enable the survival of their families. Women additionally carry the double and triple burden of domestic duties and care work. Despite working so hard the return is so low that they are unable to meet their household expenses. However, much of this is not captured by the current data collection instruments. If women who work are not counted as workers, they will be excluded from efforts to ensure achievement of SDG 8 regarding full and productive employment and access to decent work.

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Acknowledgements

This chapter is based on findings of a study conducted by Aasha Kapur Mehta and Sanjay Pratap conducted at IIPA titled “Exploring the Possibility of Estimating the Monetary Value of Women’s Contribution to GDP”. The study was sponsored by National Commission for Women, New Delhi and their support is gratefully acknowledged. Comments received on an earlier draft were very useful and have strengthened the paper.

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Correspondence to Aasha Kapur Mehta .

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Annexe A: Key Definitions

Annexe A: Key Definitions

Terms

Definitions

Casual agriculture labour

A person who was casually engaged in others’ farm or non-farm enterprises (both household and non-household) and, in return, received wages according to the terms of the daily or periodic work contract, was considered as a casual labour.

NSS (2014). Report No. 554: Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011–12

Economic activity

The entire spectrum of human activity falls into two categories—economic activities and non-economic activities. Any activity resulting in production of goods and services that add value to national product was considered as an economic activity for the employment and unemployment survey. Such activities included (i) production of all goods and services for market (i.e. for pay or profit) including those of government services, (ii) production of primary commodities for own consumption and (iii) own account production of fixed assets.

NSS (2014). Report No. 554: Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011–12

MRP

Mixed Reference Period MPCE. This is the measure of MPCE obtained by the consumer expenditure survey when household consumer expenditure on items of clothing and bedding, footwear, education, institutional medical care, and durable goods is recorded for a reference period of “last 365 days”, and expenditure on all other items is recorded with a reference period of “last 30 days”.

NSS KI (66/1.0): Key Indicators of Household Consumer Expenditure in India, 2009–10

Organized and unorganized sectors

The organized sector comprises of enterprises for which the statistics are available regularly from the budget documents, annual reports in the case of Public Sector enterprises and through Annual Survey of Industries in case of registered manufacturing. The unorganized sector refers to those enterprises where collection of data is not regulated under any legal provision and/or which do not maintain any regular accounts. All unincorporated enterprises, which operate on either proprietary or partnership basis constitute the informal sector. The units covered under Annual Survey of Industries are not part of Informal Sector

http://mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/concepts_golden.pdf

URP

Uniform Reference Period MPCE: This is the measure of MPCE obtained by the NSS consumer expenditure survey when household consumer expenditure on each item is recorded for a reference period of “last 30 days” (preceding the date of survey).

NSS KI (66/1.0): Key Indicators of Household Consumer Expenditure in India, 2009–10

Usual Status (ps + ss)

According to the usual status (ps + ss), workers are those who perform some work activity either in the principal status or in the subsidiary status. Thus, a person who is not a worker in the usual principal status is considered as worker according to the usual status (ps + ss), if the person pursues some subsidiary economic activity for 30 days or more during 365 days preceding the date of survey.

Source: Introduction: Concepts, Definitions and Procedures, NSS 64th Round

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Mehta, A.K., Pratap, S. (2020). Struggling for Survival in Urban Spaces: Women’s Paid and Unpaid Work in Selected Indian Slums. In: Joshi, D., Brassard, C. (eds) Urban Spaces and Gender in Asia. Sustainable Development Goals Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36494-6_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36494-6_3

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