Conceptual framework :
Urbanization is a process of concentration of population of a country in areas defined and demarcate as “urban” by the Census authorities. Definition used vary between countries and yet in all countries an “urban” Ares is identified by taking into account “characteristics” of the populations residing therein or the nature of its administrative institutions but mostly (Shryock and Seigel, 1995) urbanization the world over appears to be inevitably associated with development and modernizations. It is essentially a process that accompanies urbanizations.
To what extent does urbanization affect on working women? But as participation of women in economic activity is the most important dimension of urbanisation. We shall be looking into the lives of working women in particular. Our paper is based on the secondary data, examines the changes in the social and economic characteristics of women in over the last three decades. Though most of the changes could be construed as indices of improvement in the status of women, we argue that women were victims of gender-based discrimination in labour market and thereby exploited. But with increasing opportunities in the potential market for woman, that could have expected some change in the lives of working women.
Objectives of the study :
· To examine the changes in the social and economic characteristices of women in over the last three decades.
· To find out relationship between the urbanisation and working women.
Growth of Urbanization :
In 1901 only 11%of the total population was urbanized. There were 1834 towns and cities. The urban-rural ratio was 1:8:1. By 1951 urban population had grown to 6.16 crore comprising 17.6% of the total population. Thus from 1901 to 1951 the growth in urban population was 240% while that from 1951 to 2001 was about 450%.The rapid growth in last decades has been because of rapid industrialization and migration to urban areas, 50% of which are from rural areas.
Changing Status of working women in India due to Urbanization:
In the ancient
, women held a high place of respect in the society as mentioned in Rigveda and other scriptures. But later on because of social, political and economic changes, women lost their status and were relegated to the background. Many evil customs and traditions stepped in which enslaved the women and tied them to boundaries of the house. Many reformers and championed the cause of the emancipation of women. India
In the developed societies, modernizations and urbanization are instrumental in improving the status of working women. Women, as a result grew healthier and lived longer than men, attained higher levels of education and had access to income-earning opportunities outside their homes. Increased female participation in economic activity not merely liberated women from the tyranny of the ‘household trap’ but also enabled them to take decisions on their fertility status and family size. This ability to take decisions is regarded as the very essence of urbanization as it hastened fertility transition in the developed countries. Urbanisation is expected thus to modernize societies by changing their social and economic life in general and of women in particular.
I. Sex ratio :
Women, as an independent target group, as of March 2001, the female population stands at 495.4 million out of total 1,028 million Indian population. Thus, in the present population of 1.03 billion, there ought to be 528 million women. Instead, estimates show only 496 million women in the population today. Sex-ratio (number of female per 1,000 male) is an important indicator of women's status in the society.
The growth rate of female population for the 1991-2001 decade was 21.79%, which was 0.86 % points higher than that of the total population. Yet the demographic imbalances between women and men continue to exist till date.(Refer Table. 1)
The Working women population has risen from 13% in 1987 to 25% in 2001.
These changes in the fertility behaviour of women in India shows not only an improvement in their status but confirm that many among them were probably taking their own fertility decisions and in that sense, were modernized.
Indices of Sex Ratio and Life Expectancy at Birth (1981-2001)
Life Expectancy at Birth
Note : Sex Ratio : Females per thousand males.*Based on the Sample Registration System
Source : Census of
India,2001Provisional population totals, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, GOI, . New Delhi
II. Life Expectancy at Birth :
The life expectancy at birth among females has been steadily improving over the years from 23.3 in 1901 to 65.3 in 2001 and surpassed that of men since the eighties. Male life expectancy in 2001 is 62.3 years. The urban female life expectancy is higher at 68. (Refer Table.1).
This initial advantage that women enjoyed over men increased over the years. Exposed to the same mortality conditions, women improved their life expectancy faster than men. This probably implies that they had an equal access to health facilities in the city on par with men.
III. Literacy rates by Sex :
Literacy rates by sex in Table 2 reveals that literacy or the ability to read and write is the first step towards formal education. Female literacy bas been steadily improving over the years. The proportion of women who are literate has increased by 15 % over the last decade from 39.29% in 1991 to 54.16% in 2001. Yet, even today, 193 million women are illiterate in
. Gender gap in literacy continues to be very high at 22% points. india
Index of female literacy, however, shows that this differential in literacy rates between sexes narrowed over the last three decades due to the faster improvement in the literacy rates of women than men. This could again be said to reveal a positive change in women’s status in India.
Literacy rate (1981-2001)
Male-Female gap in literacy rate
IV. Female Work participation and Employment :
In the rest of the section, we turn to increases in the female participation in the labor market, the most important change that has accompanied urbanization in
. The process is often defined as feminization in economic literature. Feminization internationally has resulted in a market increase in the participation rates of women which occur simultaneously with a decline in participation rates of men. Wherever the process was initiated, over time, women were absorbed in jobs which were performed earlier by men. Women were preferred by employers not necessarily for certain qualities that they possessed as workers but because female labour was flexible or disposable and cheap. Generally, women workers were less likely to be unionized and thereby low bargaining capacity in the labour market. As a result they become victims of wage discrimination based on gender. They are paid lower wages than men, even though they are as educated as men in similar jobs. Women are forced to flock in certain occupations which are often termed “women’s occupations”. In the labour market, they experience higher levels of unemployment than men. And lastly, they are victims of pre-entry or human capital discrimination which does not permit women to have equal access to education with men. This inability to acquire education is held against them when they enter the labour market. They are left with limited options in terms of choice of jobs and are destined to have low paid employment. India
Despite the cumulative disadvantages women experienced as workers, faster growth of female employment to male employment implies basically two changes that are occurring in India’s labour market. On the demand side, employers are definitely preferring cheaper and easily disposable female labour to dearer male labour. When we examine the supply side, we find that more women are offering themselves on the labour market. This clearly suggests that the society at large has accepted women as ‘workers’ or at least that society is less averse to working women now than in the past when they were expected to perform their traditional role of home-makers.
Work-Participation rated by sex (1981-2001)
Table 3, gives the work participation rates by sex in India. We have relied on the Census data which showed an improvement in women’s while a fall in men’s participation rates. It reveals that while the female work participation rate increased from 19.7% in 1981 to 25.7% in 2001, still it is much lower that of these male work participation rate in both urban and rural areas. The data also support that India’s workforce was getting feminised over that three decades.
Women’s increased participation in economic activity is regarded as an index of improvement in their social and economic status. In India, the pattern of absorption of female labour by the formal sector clearly revealed that relatively more women were absorbed by the informal than the formal sector of the economy. Presumably, for a large majority of women who entered the labour force, their economic participation was crucial for their own and their family’s survival. It was, therefore, not surprising that they were less averse to taking up the low paid and in secure employment which the city’s labour market offered over the years. This did not mean that women did not find their way to better-paid, regular and therefore, secure jobs in the organised sector. The educated, who formed a small minority of the total workers in India, were in modern white-coller occupations and worked mostly as professionals and clerical workers. Irrespective of the sector of employment and the kind of work they performed, the labour market discriminated against them.
Table 4 shows that women’s share in the organised work-force has also shown an increasing trend, from 2.8 million(12.2%) in 1981 to 4.8 million (17.2%) in 1999. Between 1991 and 1999, rise in the percentage points of women was 3.1 in contrast, the share of men has been declining. However, women’s participation in the organised sector is still very low, as compared to men.
Similarly, women’s employment in the public sector has also recorded an increase from 1.5 million (9.7%) in 1981 to 2.8 Million (14.5%) in 1999 (table – 4). However, it is still much lower than that of men.
Women in the Orgnised Sector and in Public Sector (1981-99)
In the analysis done so far, we presented secondary data to support improvement in the status of women, a change that had accompanied urbanization. The data clearly support the positive association between the status of women and urbanization. Improvement in the sex ratio of the city’s population not only implied improved family life for a large majority of men and women but was also probably a reflection on their better access to health facilities in the city which was borne out by their higher life expectancy than men. Though denied equal access to education on per with men, women acquired higher levels of literacy over the years. They also has access to employment opportunities outside their homes. Employers, however, preferred women to men workers largely because women are flexible and provide cheap labour. This improvement in the economic and social status, no doubt, modernized them in one important sense. With increasing opportunities of work outside their homes, one could have expected some change in the lives of working women within their households.
Prin. Dr.(Mrs) Anita Manna and Asstt. Prof.(Mrs) Vaishali Patil
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