Tuesday, March 11, 2014

(21st century) jobs for women

For Indian society to progress we need more and more women to be liberated from domestic slavery and provide both men and women the ability to shift from back-breaking, tedious jobs to 21st century jobs (in part by incorporating technology and upgrading work practices, see article excerpt below).

...
Armal Ali lives in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India. The family of 11 occupy a breeze-block shack with no windows. Ali works all day at a hand loom, sitting cross-legged on the ground, making embroidered saris that are highly prized across the subcontinent. But local residents know too well that such work wrecks eyesight and causes chronic backache.

Ali hopes that his daughter Ousma, 9, will lead a different life. "Nothing special," he says, "but at least sitting at a desk, for instance, with plenty of light around her." He would also like her to speak English, like "the people in suits who talk about money all day on television".

When you are lacking in "good jobs" women can progress only at the expense of men. Fortunately, the private sector already values women as employees and is responding strongly. Unfortunately, violence aimed at women is causing immense harm by restricting employment hours, especially the peak hours during evenings/nights when clients/teams in the west are available for interaction.

...
The formal/organized sector is the benchmark for middle class gender bending. It is here that employment is stable; compensation is adequate and working conditions bearable. It is not as if nothing has changed since 1947.  

Formal employment has increased, albeit marginally, and today is around 29 million or just 5% of total employment. Whilst women have benefited disproportionately, their share in formal employment increased inadequately from a low 15% in 1995 to a miserable 20% today. 

The private sector which has lower institutional and labour market rigidities, is already responding, on a strictly “value for money” basis to enlarge women employment. Since 1995 the formal private sector added 2.8 million jobs, of which 39% (1.1 million) went to women. Their share has increased from 20% in 1995 to 24% today. 

It is in public sector formal employment that more needs to be done. Public sector formal employment shrank by 2 million jobs since 1995 to 17.5 million today. Despite the shrinking pie of government jobs, jobs for women increased by 0.6 million to 3.3 million or 18% of total public sector employment: way behind their share in the private sector.

It will hurt men directly but government must reserve 50% of entry level positions for women across the board in the civilian cadres of government, including within the existing quotas for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward caste, and minorities (a few states). Income based “brownie points” in selection and a “one-time quota benefit, not transferable to children” can serve to churn the ensuing benefit better. 

The average Indian woman looks for succour from just four public horrors; (1) the lack of public safety in the street and often also at home; (2) informal gender bars for education; (3) biased job recruitment and assessment and (4) rigid work environments, which do not recognizes their multiple roles as bread winner; home stabilizer and comforter. Their effective participation in the public space needs to fit in within this framework. 

 

....technology is the biggest gender bender but the government does not use it strategically.  

Monitoring outcomes effectively and improving access to services are two sorely neglected areas.  

Policing in India continues to be a low tech, “danda” swinging profession.Why cannot an FIR be filed electronically, with a phone number attached for authentication, thereby putting the onus on the police to follow up with the complainant? Why are mixed gender police patrols, armed with smart phone access, to record and report crime and access the crime database, not visible to citizens? 

Why are blood samples not collected at home in rural areas by mobile agents of laboratories and reports sent electronically to users? Why are interactive phone based health and education counselling services, on the Tamil Nadu pattern, not scaled up nationally? Why do development babus still not have specific household specific, annual targets for the multiple social benefit schemes of government? Why do they have the discretion to fish for beneficiaries?

regards