The number of working unmarried women in the capital is almost twice that of working women who are divorced or married, says a study by ILO, a finding that blames marriage for scores of women quitting the workforce or stopping them from becoming a part of it.
Among working women in the age band 18-60, 43 percent are unmarried, 29 per cent divorced and 19 per cent married, says the study. Around 47 per cent of all respondents said they quit work after marriage and childbirth.
Objections from family and too much workload were cited as the main reasons for not joining the workforce by 25 per cent of women.
The survey “Through the magnifying glass: women’s work and labour force participation in urban Delhi” carried out by Ratna M. Sudarshan, Director, Institute of Social Studies Trust and Shrayan Bhattacharya, Research Analyst ISST, was released here on Wednesday. Bhattacharya said the survey took a representative sample of 700 households all over Delhi.
Long workdays stretching up to 11-15 hours for women and too much domestic responsibilities were cited as crucial factors influencing work life choices. As many as 29 per cent working women and 36 per cent non-working women cited “children get neglected” as the negative change because of work.
The other important negative change with work was given as “conflict over domestic chores” by 20 per cent working and 19 per cent non-working women.
Loss of family status, conflict over earnings, bad example for female relatives and threat to joint family systems were other negative changes highlighted. Nearly 12 per cent non-working and six per cent working women felt it led to loss of family status.
The positive fallout were given as more economic security, more experience and knowledge, stronger personality and enlarged social network.
Thirty-four per cent non-working and 31 per cent working women felt it brought more economic security, while 28 per cent working and 26 per cent non-working women felt it brought more experience and knowledge. Twenty-two per cent working women and 20 per cent non-working women felt it made for “stronger personality”.
Close to half the women educated above graduation do join the workforce, according to the survey, adding the participation of women in the age group 21-34 years was close to 34 per cent, which came down to 17 per cent in the age group 35-49 years.
Increasing reproductive workload could be a reason for lower participation in later years, alternatively this may indicate a higher propensity to work among younger generation, the report said. “In Delhi, with its high reporting of crime against women it is not surprising to find that mobility and safety concerns are cited as the second most hurdle by working women,” it further said.
“Only 10 women among the respondent pool reported increase in household tension after they started working. However, once asked about other known families close to half the respondents said they had heard of conflict in other families due to women working. Worrisome signs were reported by several female investigators during the survey. One investigator witnessed wife-beating and another observed visible signs of physical abuse.”
Of the women who are working only 28 per cent said they were entitled to provident fund cover and 38 per cent had access to paid leave. As far as contribution of women to household income is concerned only 23 per cent said they were the primary earners for their households.
Thirty-five per cent said their household did not need them to work and that they prefer it for other reasons, and 42 per cent felt household would manage with some difficulty but “I work to be more comfortable”.