Rural jobs have vanished and rural female participation rate in the labor force fell from 49.4 percent in 2004-05 to 24.6 percent in 2017-18 according to the data by Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-2018. This report is for the age group 15-59. But when we talk on an overall scale, including both males and females, an estimated 9.1 million jobs were lost in rural India , according to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Rural India accounts for two-thirds of India’s population but it accounted for 84 percent of job losses.
Lower jobs in rural areas ultimately result in exploitation of women. And not surprisingly, it can lead to ‘sexual exploitation’ too
The thing to ponder upon is, that when the jobs vanish, how do these people feed themselves? For this, the answer lies in the fact that India has 139 million internal migrants, according to the report by World Economic Forum. So when jobs vanish, people migrate to the areas where they can earn their livelihood. But not all people migrate with their families, and that’s when a situation as ‘women left behind’ comes into consideration.
Also Read: Why women matter to Indian elections
When Men Migrate, Most Of Them Leave Women Behind
It has become a norm for men to leave women behind and to keep revisiting once or twice in a year. The unemployment wave hits uneducated people the most and that certainly is the reason why people from rural India have to migrate. These uneducated people, at most times, come to urban areas to earn their livelihood but leave their families, and most importantly, their wives back in village because they do not have a proper place to live in the city. Now, even if women want to work, the only work available to them is that of farming because village is already out of jobs. Farming limits them to pathetic payment but unmatched hard work, thus impeding their empowerment. So, to feed their children, either they need to choose this work or sit at home. “Initially, when my husband migrated to the city, I felt as if my life was over. It feels so depressing. My baby was just 2 years old and it was just him and I in the house. I asked my husband if we could live with him but he would say no because he did not have proper resources in the city.” says Kanta (changed name) who lives in a village in UP.
Possibility Of Leaving Their Wives Forever And Settling Where They Work
Kanta’s story become even worse when she came to know that her husband had married someone else in the city. “He started talking less. He would hardly visit us once or twice a year. Initially, I thought that he might be working but later on, his activities made me suspicious. Then I came to know that he had married someone else.Women being left behind in the villages has become the norm. Our men go to cities and return for a couple of months in the year to work during harvesting season. But this, somehow, broke me to the core.” adds Kanta.
Not everyone takes this path though but people do leave and never return and that is why stories like Kanta’s exist. This is why creating more jobs in rural areas and urbanizing them is important. Jobs are not only the source of financial development but also the development of humans as a whole. Lower jobs in rural areas ultimately result in exploitation of women. And not surprisingly, it can lead to ‘sexual exploitation’ too!
Read More:How Women In Rural India Are Utilizing The Internet
Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv