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Women & night shift economy

The information technology-enabled services have done to India what fast track manufacturing did to China.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 03:29 IST

The information technology-enabled services have done to India what fast track manufacturing did to China.

After the Middle Kingdom shed its ‘women with bound feet’ image to bring them into manufacturing mainstream, Indian BPO sector is holding women by the hand to participate in the night shift economy.

“The women working night shift in BPO constitute over 40 per cent of the total work force in the sector. The stringent security rules adopted by the sector has encouraged families to send their daughters to do night shifts with BPOs,” says a study commissioned by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and anchored by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India.

In addition to the Indian ITES success story, the other facilitator for the upswing in women participation in night economy has been the amendment of the Factories Act that allows women employees to work night shifts between 10 pm and 6 am.

This has seen major increase in the percentages of women working in the healthcare, textile, garments, handicrafts, leather and IT sectors, according to the study.

Akin to China, which now has 330 million working women accounting for 47 per cent of the labour force, the participation of women workers in textile and leather mills has been fuelled by the use of expensive machinery that is not allowed to idle in the night. Also, 8,000 nurses qualifying annually from 400 institutes are adding to this increasing pool of women employees working in the night shift.

The survey, which sought responses from women doing night shifts, employers, and people from universities, police, hospitals and industry, says that bigger companies are hiring a large number of women employees.

The survey also underlines the need to introduce more structured security mechanisms, especially in the wake of instances like Pratibha murder case in Bangalore. “Interestingly, the Bangalore incident has taken its toll and women employees rated Bangalore along with Ludhiana as highly insecure zones even though 71 per cent of the total respondents said they did not feel insecure during the night shifts,” says the survey.