INTERNAL FEMALE MIGRATION
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The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), which collects data on employment and unemployment indicators in the country, has estimated it to be 27% from June 2020 to 2021
- Internal migration is a crucial form of physical and social transaction in India.
- The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), which collects data on employment and unemployment indicators in the country, has estimated it to be 27% from June 2020 to 2021.
- Normative literature usually documents it as a male-dominated narrative. However, women, especially of working age, comprise a greater share of the migrant pool but there is little dialogue surrounding them.
- This is a concern given India’s falling Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR). It also raises the question of whether women face employment barriers due to post-migration conditions.
- Leading primary reason: PLFS data suggest that the leading reason for migration among women is marriage (81%), followed by migration of family members (10%), employment (2.42%), and migration for education opportunities (0.48%).
- Unemployment and Informal Employment: According to the PLFS, approximately three quarters of migrant women are unemployed, approximately 14% of migrant women are in self and wage-employed jobs and approximately 12% are in casual labour.
- Educational : A large percentage (85%) of migrant women have less than 10 years of education, potentially limiting their employment opportunities.
- Post-COVID Impact: After the pandemic, 55% of women didn’t return to work, and those who did earned only 56% of their pre-pandemic income.
- According to the definition of employment used by national surveys, only those with some form of verbal or written contract with their employer are considered part of the labour force. Consequently, women are largely classified as unemployed.
- However, what is often overlooked is that women choose forms of employment that allow them to handle their domestic duties while contributing to the household’s production or finances.
- Thus, working as unpaid family workers, in household enterprises, or being self-employed is common amongst them. But they may view that as an extension of their domestic commitment instead of a form of employment which leads to them misreporting their employment status.
Challenges faced by female migrants in employment
- National surveys’ definition of employment, focusing on formal contracts, leads to many women’s works being classified as unpaid or not part of the labor force.
- Despite PLFS data indicating high unemployment among migrant women, many engage in casual or informal jobs like agriculture or domestic help, which are often not recognized as employment.
- After migrating, women often face the challenge of having limited social networks. This lack of connections, especially in new environments, can significantly hinder their chances of finding employment. Their reduced social capital compared to non-migrant women exacerbates this issue.
- Current policies do not adequately address the unique needs and challenges of female migrants. Policies such as One Nation One ration card, e-Shram, and affordable rental housing complexes are examples of this as they are mainly targeted towards the male migrant population.
- From a political standpoint, women migrants are not a considerable vote bank, and, therefore, their needs are not addressed.
Steps to take
- To remedy this, several steps should be taken. National surveys should compile more information regarding their socio-economic conditions post-migration as very little is known about it.
- For instance, the PLFS indicates that a minute percentage (approximately 7%) have access to social security benefits; there is no data for the rest of the populace.
- There is also a lack of time-use data for migrants, as India has not made that the norm yet.
- Time-use data would significantly help advance existing knowledge regarding unemployed female migrants.
- On a broader scale, a change in narrative is required, starting with an increased collection of female-specific data. It will illustrate the largely anecdotal problem and bring awareness about the plight of these women to encourage progressive policymaking.