MIGRATION OF THE UNREGULATED ECONOMY: THE UNQUANTIFIABLE SETBACK FOR WOMEN
The world is currently gripped by a massive pandemic which has resulted in huge socio economic losses for almost all the countries in the world. The outbreak of Covid-19 has massively affected the global power structures and has changed the way countries are looking at trade and international relations. The biggest casualty in this pandemonium is going to be the employment structures around the globle with the underdeveloped and developing economies being the hardest hit. In the context of India, Employment contraction has already begun at a massive unprecedented stage, with the informal sector bearing the brunt of the harshest consequences. The visuals of lakhs of migrants walking back to their homes state are testimony to the employment vacuum that we are going to face in the economy in the near future. Further analysis of the gendered division the workforce will paint a grim picture for the marginalised women, which constitute almost 740 million of the workforce in the informal economy across the world. The struggles and discrimination attached to a female worker increases the overall burden that she struggles with in both societal and economic spheres. These may also increase if we include with additional vulnerabilities faced by women in a patriarchal society. The requirement of additional support and care becomes essential to provide them with equitable access to resources. Across the country, Women engaged in the informal sector are least likely to benefit from existing measures due to gender and social norms impeding the accessibility to economic opportunities and financial resources. Amartya Sen famously coined the term “Missing Women” in 1990 to refer to the innumerable women who are intentionally and deliberately kept out of the human ecosystem. The pandemic threatens to push the Indian women working in the informal sector down the black hole of deprivation and undo the efforts taken and progress done over the decades through the various empowerment mechanisms.
The paper analyses the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the employment structures of urban women working in the informal sector economy. The formal sector employment has already been saturated and has enough safeguards for its preservation. However, the informal sector has been neglected and thus has the most number of vulnerable women who will fall prey to the domino effect on the economy due to corona virus. The paper seeks to identify the loophole and pitfalls in the policymaking exercises and presents an advisory blueprint in order to protect the employability of women in the informal economy.