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Rural wage bias against women, kids

The gender discrimination at work place, be it in rural or urban India, is a fact, says a new government survey, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2008 02:32 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Gender discrimination at the work place, be it in rural or urban India, is a fact, says a new government survey. The bias in the payment of wages and salaries not only overlooks the number of hours put in by men and women but also their educational qualifications.

The findings are part of a study by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) titled "Employment and Unemployment Situation in India".

On an average, in rural India, a woman's daily wage is Rs 20 less than that of a man, though both work equal hours. In the case of daily salary, the difference is of Rs 50.

Wage is the money paid to casual labourers, and salary is for the non-casual worker.

Women and children in rural areas are paid wages as low as Rs 30 and Rs 12 respectively for a day's work, even though they constitute more than 60 per cent of the work force.

This is less than half of the minimum wages prescribed by the various state governments.

The survey notes similar differences in the daily pay packages of men and women in urban areas too.

For a woman, higher education is not a guarantor of higher salary. But for men, the salary increases with the educational level, the survey says. "This trend is only noticeable for women in rural areas, depicting the prevalent mindset that education does not matter for women," says an NSSO official.

A woman with a graduate degree in rural India gets Rs 170 per day; the man gets Rs 239. For a diploma holder, it increases to Rs 212 per day for a woman and Rs 288 for a man.

Children are even more exploited, especially the girl child. In the manufacturing and service sectors, a girl gets just Rs 10 per day in urban areas. Boys are slightly better off with wages close to Rs 30 for a day.

On an average, a wage for the child is Rs 12 per day in these sectors, which employ children in large numbers.

The NSSO data also puts a pivotal question before the government over its claims of banning child labour in the manufacturing and hospitality sector. The survey found that boys continue to work in hotels and restaurants for an average salary of Rs 25 a day in urban India.

Labour ministry officials, however, said the government was considering amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition) Act to strictly implement ban on child labour in sectors categorized as hazardous under the Act.