“Gendered Precarity in India’s Lockdown”

Arup Kumar Sen

Very recently, The All India Federation of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has made a survey of 300 members, who live in 12 states and work in diverse occupations, to understand how the coronavirus-induced national lockdown in India has impacted lives and livelihoods of women. The SEWA Report (May, 2020) informs us that the national lockdown has made the lives of footloose women workers more precarious.

To put it in the words of summary of the Report: “Weavers, artisans and home-based workers say the disruptions in the global supply chains…have left them without work. Markets have dried up; leaving some with unsold inventory and others unpaid for previous orders”.

The self-employed women interviewed consistently “expressed fears that their industries will not recover well”.

How the national lockdown has affected the street vendors? The Report observed:

Street vendors are concerned about their ability to get back to work in a world of social distancing, even after lockdown ends. Additionally, they worry that the stigma associated with their work will result in a further drop in sales.

The SEWA Report testifies that the national lockdown in India and the ‘social distancing’ policy associated with it have turned the world of women workers in the informal sector upside down.

(I am indebted to my friend V Ramaswamy for drawing my attention to the SEWA Report)

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Jun 11, 2020

Arup Kumar Sen

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