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A Study on Domestic Workers in Trivandrum

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A Study on Domestic Workers in Trivandrum

Sreedevi R S



Sl. No.



List of Tables List of Figures 1 2 3.1 3.2 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 5.1 5.2 5.3 Introduction Review of Literature Neo-classical Theories Background of Trivandrum Theoretical Analysis Regression Analysis Demographic Profile Nature of Services Work Profile of Domestic Workers Health Consideration of Domestic Workers Educational Attainment Union Awareness of Domestic Workers Household Assets and Liabilities Conclusion Findings Suggestions Bibliography Appendix

i ii 1-7 8-17 18-21 21-23 25-26 26-27 27-31 31-33 33-39 39-42 42-44 45-47 47-51 52-53 53-55 55-56 57-59


1.1 Introduction

The definition of gender is the state or fact of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones). Often gender and sex are used interchangeably, but gender is socially constructed and sex is biologically determined. The word gender has been used since the 14th century but this did not become common until the mid of 20th century. In human societies sex differences are experienced as gender differences. Concepts of gender are cultural interpretations of sex differences. Gender is related to sex differences. Gender depends on how society views relationship of male to man and female to woman. Every culture has prevailing images of what men and women are ―supposed‖ to be like. The concept of an ideal woman exists in every culture and in every society. The sexual division of labour according to Friedrich Engels, (―The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State 1845)‖, showed how changes in the material conditions of people affect the organisation of their family relations. The man took control over the land and later put forcible claims on individual women as their personal possessions. The concept of family came into existence where in the man and his woman lived in their household. Engels interpreted this rape like act not as a sign of women‘s subordination but as a sign of economic power. Because he found that women‘s work was vital for the survival. Engels concluded that early pairing societies were probable matrilineal (inheritance and lines of descendants traced through the mother). But later patriarchy came into existence. Men indulged in production outside the household and the possessions were transferred to the children. The production within the household was considered as minority and the traditional sexual division of labour between men and women, which had supposedly arisen out of the physiological differences between the sexes, specifically the sex act took new social meanings. As men‘s work and production grew in importance, not only did the value of production and women‘s work decrease, so too did their status within the society. Historically speaking; women were the first oppressed group, their oppression was the most widespread no matter what country or area they belonged to. Women‘s oppression and inferior status often go unnoticed and unrecognised because of the sexiest prejudices of both the oppressor and victim. The so called sexist approach defines the roles and rules for the


individual. No more is the person viewed as an individual or a person, but as a male or female. The division of labour, the division in access to means of production, the division in decision making power, and the decision in distribution are all done by the male in the family. There is no power that rests with the woman; in the childhood she is subjected to her father; in youth to her husband and in the old age to her sons, a woman is never independent. Even then, woman plays a crucial role in the production process. The household activities which are not considered as economic or productive are undertaken mostly by woman. In the domestic labour market, woman commercialises her ‗skill‘ of doing household to earn a living. There are comparatively few men who undertake this job. Domestic work is a main source of income for many poor women. Rural women migrate to urban areas to engage in domestic work. Household work is considered as woman‘s work. A working woman has to find time to do her own household before going to earn her own living. Gendering of space plays an important role in this. From childhood itself, a girl is brought up by introducing her to cook and clean, where as a boy spends time playing and being with his father. It is an important factor in the allocation of roles and power in all societies. Therefore from childhood itself, Indian women are equipped to do household tasks. The task of cooking, cleaning, childbearing, childrearing etc. there is a famous saying that ―man must toil from sun to sun but a woman‘s work is never done‖. Domestic work is always attributed to women. Even if the female in the family is working, she has to find time to perform the household. Nowadays, the household work is commercialised. It is carried out by many women as a necessity for survival. Not many would take up ‗domestic worker‘ as an occupation. But it is now gaining importance as a means of income for many families. While domestic work was not insignificant in India before independence, but the demand for domestic workers has drastically increased since independence. In pre-modern times, domestic workers were mostly associated with rich aristocracy like kings in the medieval era and landlords in the colonial era. But now, with the end of the era of landownership and kingship, the demand for domestic workers is still on rise. The demand is mainly from the middle class India. But the domestic workers who work for their employers do not get any security from their employers and the government. The main reason for this would be lack of awareness among the workers regarding different schemes and programmes to protect their interests. The role of the government and other representatives with respect to domestic workers is really high and significant. There are lot


of violence taking place in this unorganised sector where there isn‘t anything much being done about it. Not all domestic workers are able to have horizontal mobility (ie change of place of domestic work), but very few of them have upward mobility because of lack of access to education and skills training. This occupation is considered as an extension of the household activities and this is one of the reasons why women take a major share in this unorganised sector. As part of gendering of space, kitchen is always associated with femininity, and the wages that they receive is also low compared to their male counterparts (if any). Although the employers are educated, yet the traditional notion of a ―servant‖ is deep rooted in their minds. Many of them think it is justified to look down upon the domestic workers, and these sections are being exploited by their employers. Till now there is no single law specifically for domestic workers in India. One of the reasons for this would be, (i) domestic work is not considered as real work; it is just an extension of household services which are not even accounted in the GDP and (ii) lack of availability of accurate data: Government all over the world find it difficult to estimate accurately the number of domestic workers. Some part time domestic workers may not report domestic work as their main occupation. The central government has included domestic workers in provisions under the unorganised sector. The domestic labourers in India are exploited and harassed by their employers. They are denied of the rights that they deserve. According to International Labour Organisation ‗A domestic worker is someone who carries out household work in a private household in return for wages‘. Most of the domestic workers are women and girls. Around 20 percent of the workers are below 14 years of age. Under child labour laws children of this age should not be employed. The absence of an effective and efficient monitory system is the cause for this. Laws are necessary but those relating to domestic workers can only be effective if there is a change in the attitude in the people who employ them. Only through awareness can this problem be controlled. The exploitation of domestic workers should be reduced. India is considered as a cheaper market for labour, in such circumstances the chances of exploitation are more. There are lot of people who have migrated to different places within the country for the purpose of occupation, and some have moved after their marriage.


There have been many attempts to regulate the sector since independence. Most of these have failed due to governmental resistance-active or through neglect. Some of the legislations introduced during the period are; The Domestic Workers (Conditions of Service) Bill 1959; All India Domestic Servants Bill 1959; Domestic Workers (Conditions of Service) Bill 1972 and 1977; and the House Workers (Conditions of Service) Bill 1989. The laws enacted till date that offer protection to domestic workers in the state of Kerala are, notification for Minimum Wage Act for Domestic Workers passed on 23rd May 2005. Domestic workers are currently members of the Kerala Artisan and Skilled Workers‘ Welfare Fund. The Kerala Domestic Workers (Livelihood Rights; Regulation of Employment, Conditions of Service, Social Security and Welfare) Bill 2009 is distinctive because it attempts to regulate the entire sector in a more comprehensive manner, not merely in terms of wages, social security or placement agencies. The objectives of the study are: 1. To test for the significance between the hours of work and their health expenditure 2. To study if there is potential improvement in the economic and social status of their family 3. Trace the reasons for gender inequality The project gives a background of the present situation of domestic workers and the reasons as to why there is more women taking up this job. Domestic work is an important source of wage employment for women especially in Latin America and Asia. Women‘s literacy is considered as an important indicator of gender inequality. In rural and urban areas, the women are given less attention in terms of education and health. This will ultimately lead to obtaining employment that gives fewer wage compared to their male counterparts. The link between literacy and gender inequality is an important objective of the study. The project analyses how far the job of domestic labour has helped the women to improve their social and economic status. A comparison between their status before and after working is taken to analyse the trend of their improvement. How far the job has helped the women to get out of their indebtedness and other financial crisis are also analysed as part of the project. The situation of their children at present compared to that of theirs is also considered as an essential criterion to study the level of improvement in their overall set up. The major hypothesis/speculations that led to the further research on domestic labourers are:


  

There is no significant relation between their health expenditure and the number of hours worked There is no significant improvement in their economic status after taking up the job There is no significant relation between education and income

Besides carrying on with the same ‗dirty‘ job, it is assumed that there is no significant improvement in their economic status. The reasons to pursue the occupation are identified and the basis for taking up the job is questioned. The methodology used in studying the domestic workers is by using the primary source of data collection where the women workers are asked to fill up the questionnaire. For the OLS estimation purpose the SPSS version 7.5 is used.

1.2 Scope The study helps to investigate the economic status of domestic workers and helps to analyse the reasons for gender inequality that prevails in the unorganised sector. The study focuses on women domestic workers. Their importance in the economic unit is identified and their role in contributing to the total welfare of the economy is also recognised. The kind of services they render is understood from a gender perspective giving significance to their status in the social scenario. The study on the economic and social status of the women domestic workers will cover their present standard of living. It tries to analyse the improvement/non improvement in their economic and social status. An understanding of the socio-economic wellbeing of their families and consumption pattern will help to comprehend the economic position of the domestic workers in the society. 1.3 Limitation The study on domestic labourers includes only women workers and it completely ignores male domestic workers. The functions of agencies in protecting the workers is analysed but an analysis of their role in protecting them is ignored. The study is limited to a city in Kerala and the sample analysis is based on primary data completely ignoring the secondary data and their comparison.


1.4 Chapterisation Chapter I introduces the area of research describing the objectives and methodology used in the study. It also emphasises the importance of the research area by stressing on the further scope of conducting research on related areas. The chapter reveals the limitations with respect to the present research, but demonstrates the advantage of conducting the research. Chapter II gives a review of several literatures and study done on the domestic labourers. The articles covered will include issues dealing with respect to Kerala and also the situation prevailing in India as a whole. Literatures of international concern help to give a holistic picture on the current happenings in foreign nations. Chapter III gives a theoretical background to the project. The methodology used in proceeding with the project is also included so that it helps in giving a clear picture of how the data should be analysed. The chapter deals with the method used to collect primary data. It gives details regarding the size of the sample and the area covered under the study. In this chapter, the background of the area on which the project is done is also described. Chapter IV is the analysis part. The analysis and observations made by studying about the domestic workers are covered in the fourth chapter. It deals with considering each aspect in the questionnaire in detail and representing the observations through tables and graphs. The importance in this chapter is that the hypothesis testing is done in this chapter; therefore it shows whether the hypothesis made is accepted or rejected. This chapter helps in

evaluating the economic and social conditions of domestic workers taking into consideration the health and educational expenditures of the workers. The details regarding their literacy level and how much it has led to an increase in the gender gap is analysed in a descriptive manner. The improvement or non improvement after taking up the job is studied by making a comparison between their situations before and after. Chapter V is the conclusion part where the findings and suggestions about the domestic workers are done. The major problems of the unorganised sectors are identified as part of the project. Suggestions are made regarding how to reduce their dependence on others. Observations with respect to domestic workers have helped to recognise their importance in the lives of the middle class community who are their employers. The role of domestic workers is identified and suggestions regarding programmes and policies to improve their situation are also made in this chapter.


At this stage, it would be useful to look at the work done in this field of study. Chapter II presents the review of literature of research already carried on the area.


2.1 Review of Literature

In the process of acquiring more information on domestic labourers and the unorganised sector in India, many interesting articles and publications were cited. Reading through all these helped to frame how the research should be conducted on domestic labourers. Major focus point of almost all the researchers is to give recognition and provide representation for this particular sector. It is depressing to see that how much ever work these women do, the appreciation that they receive is much smaller. It of course should be an area of concern as to why their work is always quoted as ‗invisible‘ and why it is not counted as work. The article ―A Woman-shaped gap in the Indian Workforce‖, (Thomas, 2013) where in the author talks about the proportion of females in the workforce draws a comparison between the total female population and the female work participation. He tries to locate why there is a gap and why is it not accounted for. He describes the different work that a woman performs and the domestic work which she executes in her household is not considered as an economic activity. This is unlike the case of services by a paid domestic help, which is considered an economic activity and is counted in the national income. But the society is prejudiced and it devalues the contributions made by women. And to some extent the official statistics reproduces the prejudices in the society. The author then talks about the women‘s participation in agricultural activities and brings in the rural women into picture. He then brings the self employed rural women into picture, and it is said that female employment in agriculture is not driven by any real opportunities for income generation, but was part of a last ditch effort to escape impoverishment. With regard to urban educated women, there are social factors which reduce women‘s participation. There are social and cultural factors which resist the mobility of women and discourage women from working. He quotes Amartya Sen‘s ‗missing women‘ in India, highlighting the low female- male ratio in the country‘s population. He says, the missing women in India‘s population have a parallel in the problem relating to the missing women in India‘s workforce. The author tries to trace the reasons for massive withdrawal, which could be lower wages than men, absence of employment opportunities and ensuring better working conditions. He concludes by saying


that as more women join the workforce the voices against gender based inequalities will grow louder and there will be more hands and brains to take the economy forward. The article ―The Material and the Symbolic; Intersectionalities of Home-Based Work in India‖, (Saraswati Raju, 2013), where the author talks about the sexual division of labour, concentrates on home based work, wherein she focuses on the activities of women who does domestic work within her household. She categorises the working environment for women and men as ‗private and public‘ and ‗inside and outside‘. This segmentation between men and women along with the socio-cultural specifications helps to showcase how the economic processes intertwine with labour market identities. There exists various socio-cultural and economic attributes of gendered identity interact at multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic push of women to home based work. The home based workers in India are overwhelmingly represented by illiterate or lowly literate sections of workers and that of marginal groups. In this article, where the author defines ―home‖ in home-based work, she talks in terms of the location of workplace. In the 2004-05 NSS, ―own dwelling unit‖ was how the location of workplace for home based workers was identified. The author comes to a conclusion that more than half of the home-based are in their reproductive age group of 25-44 years, and more than three-fourths are married. In the job hierarchy, it is the men who outnumber women in both rural and urban areas. But in case of occupational diversification, urban areas are better than rural areas, but intra-gender distribution continues to be skewed in favour of men as far as relatively better remunerative avenues are concerned. A higher percentage of women compared to men work under more restrictive conditions, further restraining any possibilities of improving or enlarging their skills. The article ―Maternal Literacy and Child Malnutrition in India‖, (Vani K Borooah, 2009) brings in a recurring theme in the literature on the welfare of children in developing countries. The author talks about the importance of having literate parents, and in particular a literate mother. She suggests that children‘s health including the likelihood of their surviving infancy and childhood, nutritional status and educational attainments are enhanced by having better educated parents, especially the mother. This study examines the relationship between the circumstances of mothers and the likelihood of their children being undernourished. In this study, children were distinguished according as to whether their mothers were: literate, ‗proximate‘ literate (that is mother illiterate but father literate) and illiterate (that is mother and father illiterate). An important feature of this study is an examination of whether the channels of influence, running through a particular determinant of malnutrition, were


different for these three different types of maternal literacy. It focuses on the influence of household food security- as measured by the size of the household‘s food stocks and its access to fair price shops- on child malnutrition. In the article, the author specifies a model where the demand for child health will depend upon the vector of child characteristics, vector of household or parental characteristics pertaining to the child and the relevant community characteristics vector. Three scenarios of illiterate, literate and proximate literate were constructed. The child characteristics, household characteristics and community level characteristics are specified. The study uses bivariate probit model. And the result estimated is that the null hypothesis, of no correlation between the error terms of the stunting and the underweight equations, could not be accepted. The result was a positive estimate and it indicates that, the likelihood of being stunted/underweight increases for an increase in the value of associated variable. Some of the conclusions are, (i) the likelihood of being stunted and underweight was lower for girls than boys, (ii) poor housing conditions affected the likelihood of being underweight, (iii) children from the household of one or more empowered females were less likely to be stunted and to be underweight. In the book ―Decent Work for Domestic Workers‖ as part of the Labour Education edited by Luc Demaret (2007), the author talks about three aspects. In the first session, he highlights the realities of domestic work. He starts with defining domestic work and then talks about the ‗abused‘, ‗humiliated‘ and ‗exploited‘ sector having a major proportion as women. The problems faced by migrant domestic workers are also highlighted. The demand for domestic workers in the Middle East, North America and Europe attracts millions of women away from their countries and out of the impoverished communities that they are used to. The session also includes the hidden face of agencies in legalising the contract. The importance of such agencies is that it tries to protect the workers and ensures good employment conditions. The second session is about the trade union action for domestic workers. This session mainly consists of the significance of having a union for domestic workers so that it can defend and contact domestic workers at the time of requirement. The last session is about child labour. It brings into light the act of child domestics. The role of unions and agencies to prevent children from entering into domestic work is also brought in. The book also deals with regional realities from Latin America, Jordan and Asia and reforms of the legislation on domestic work. The article ―Organising the Unorganised Workers in Small-Scale Units: Problems and Prospects‖, (Vrijendra, 1997) projects the recent economic changes of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation and how these have affected in shaping the characteristics of


unorganised workers. The author identifies the problems of unorganised sector as deeply fragmented, localised and subject to specific conditions in different units and areas that cannot be easily replicated. In the next session, the author brings a contrast between organising workers in small scale and large scale units. He identifies that in large scale units the cost of organising is too high in most cases; legal procedures are elaborate; timeconsuming and also restrict the right of management to arbitrarily close down the unit. Besides, the workforce is relatively large, largely skilled, experienced and difficult to replace en mass at short notice. By contrast, in small scale units, workers are unskilled; the workforce is small and it is much easier to shift operations from one location to the other. Before making some general conclusions, the article consists of a few case studies of unionising workers in small scale units. Three case studies demonstrate how difficult it is to organise casual workers in small units and the last two case studies illustrate successful stories of workers union in demanding minimum wages and ensuring their protection and welfare. The article concludes by analysing the problems behind organising the workers in a small scale sector. It is analysed that, organising the workers is a time consuming task. To successfully form a union of workers, there will have to be collective struggles against the lack of implementation of laws for minimum wages, ESIS, insurance etc. by owners and Government policies which govern the industrial relations in these units. The need is to create an ambience to instil in workers the confidence that struggles are possible. He identifies that creating awareness among the workers regarding the legal procedures of obtaining stay orders, grants etc. The article ―Trade Unions and Business Firms: Unorganised Manufacturing in West Bengal‖, (Deepita Chakravarty, 2010) highlights the relationship between the trade union and the management. It is a case study based on West Bengal (WB), which is not only the sole state in the country to have been under left rule for the last three decades but also the state with the maximum number of pro-labour regulations passed in the state legislature. And the study uses secondary data taken from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) and the Indian Labour Year Book, and data collected from manufacturing firms, trade unions and workers. The article analyses the industrial disputes data in the state and finds out that it has been declining like in any other states. It is not because of the strong presence of the trade unions in the state. The first section tries to examine how far labour relations in organised manufacturing have changed. The analysis covers a period of 23 years from 1980-81 to 200203. The section uses employment, labour productivity and wage rates in order to examine the trend rates of growth. The study uses a standard measure of power of trade unions which is


measured by the ratio of strikes to lockouts. It was analysed that after the 1990s there is a decline in the strikes and lockouts; it indicates relatively stronger management practices being emerged after the 1990s. Moreover, during the early 1990s, as a consequence of two major industrial policy changes by the central government- the almost total abolition of industrial licensing policies and the removal of freight equalisation for steel- helped the state of West Bengal industry in a major way. The second section discusses the relationship between the organisations of production at the firm level and labour relations in some sample firms. This paper argues instead that the increasing importance of unorganised manufacturing is not so much the result of weak trade unionism and the vulnerable workforce as it is an implicit understanding between the trade unions and management. Likewise it is important to have a union for every workforce so that there is less friction between the organisation of production and the labourers. The role played by union in the case of unorganised workers is very important in order to have a collective decision making and to reduce their exploitation. In the article, ―The Plight of Domestic Workers in India‖, (Jayati Ghosh, 2005) she starts by stating the significance of domestic workers in the lives of professional female workers who takes up their domestic responsibilities. She says that the massive expansion in domestic work as a source of employment in India over a decade is due to the growing demand from professional and middle class households. The author identifies several forces that reflect the reason for increase in demand for such women workers, an important of which would be the long history in India of employing domestic servants which is an income generation prospect and GDP growth patterns that have created a new middle class that is able to afford to demand such workers. Feminisation of such work is increasing especially in urban India and many women migrate to urban areas in search of such jobs. The author deals with other problems in this sector because at the moment personalised nature of such work, as well as adverse labour market conditions, most such work take place under extremely difficult and oppressive conditions. There is problem of low pay, little or no limits on the hours of work, lack of autonomy and respect for the workers and almost no protection or social security. The solution to such issues would be both public policy and labour mobilisation in order to improve such situation. The author recognises that introducing the provisions of Minimum Wages legislation and identifying domestic work as decent work as important advancement with regard to their recognition. The article ends with estimating the steps forward with respect to legalising the move towards identifying the work done by domestic workers. States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan have included domestic workers in minimum wage laws, but implementation is little doubtful. The article


suggests that formalising of the labour contracts, professionalising the relations between employer and employee are required to protect the interests of domestic workers. There should be a significant change in the attitudes and behaviour of their employers. ―Legislating for Domestic Workers in India‖ prepared for WIEGO India Law Project (Kamala Sankaran, Shalini Sinha and Roopa Madhav, 2010) deals with labour legislation laws that are introduced in the policies at the national and state level. The article introduces to the beginning of Domestic Workers Bill as early as 1959 and other bills introduced thereafter. The Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha for minimum wages, maximum hours of work, weekly days of rest etc are brought into account. The National Commission for Women drafted a Domestic Workers Act 2008 and this bill seeks to establish a registration procedure for all domestic workers, including part time and fulltime. There are also Child Labour laws to ban the employment of children below the age of 14 years as domestic workers. The article then identifies the key issues in legislating for domestic workers. The first problem is with regard to the definition of domestic workers. It needs greater clarity. According to the authors, domestic worker is a person employed in a household thus excluding workers in offices, shops and other such premises. Thus, whether a comprehensive law is desirable to cover all categories or should there be a separate law for domestic workers. The next issue is with regard to wages. It has been a topic of discussion for all policy makers but is never resolved. The main debate is over the norms of setting wages, whether it should be on hourly or weekly basis, time rated or piece rated, payment in kind, overtime etc. the next important one with respect to domestic workers‘ protection is sexual harassment. Since women constitute a major proportion of domestic workers, they are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. A separate law is needed to control trafficking of women and workplace sexual harassment. Another issue confronting them is discrimination. Since domestic workers are from the marginalised communities in society, prejudices and bias related to social status is reflected very strongly at the workplace. An important step towards protection of domestic workers is regulation of agencies and freedom of association. And ensuring effective implementation is imperative. It is difficult to monitor the implementation. There it is concluded that envisioning and recasting legal regulation framework to be able to address the protection of domestic workers is crucial. But a quick spark can light the fire. The article ―Organising with a Gender Perspective‖, (Uma Ramaswamy, 2008) introduces to the different aspects of women and work. The question of how women‘s work is embodied in our tradition and culture is showcased in different sections of the article. The author identifies several areas where women are active but are unnoticed. The first section is


with respect to Women in Agriculture, women‘s presence and the extent of their involvement in agriculture has close association with their caste, class and ethnic background. Men and women have specific domains of wok, but when we look at it, the overall management remains with men. This is because of their entitlements to land and certain tasks that they do. Sexual division of labour has enabled men to learn skills in planning, implementation, coordination etc. Women‘s work domain reveals areas of work which are monotonous, arduous and time consuming which have not received recognition. Modernisation of agricultural activities has increased the quantum of women‘s work and men‘s work was replaced with tractors and other machines. The next area is with regard to Women and Forest, this session deals with different programmes that are introduced in this area for the protection of forests and the role of women in protecting the forest. The focus of this section is on the gender perspectives in development projects. These projects have scope to improve women‘s knowledge, skill, management abilities, political will etc. The most important area is related to women‘s rights to ownership of land. The next area is Women in Fisheries, the role of women in fisheries is identified and the work women do in this area is recognised. Developing a feminist perspective is a long process which does not happen if mere structural changes within the union take place. Women in Construction industry are also important even if labour intensive operations have a large base for employment and growth. There is sexual division of labour in this sector; women do much tedious work in the work area. It is difficult to organise and arrange their works. The last few sessions of the article deals with the network and implications on women‘s livelihood system. The article concludes with the further chances of mobilising women labour and organising the workforce giving importance to the tasks that they perform giving recognition and due respect. The movements and organisations that function to support women in their activities is important to strengthen the collective voice of the workers. The article ―SEWA as a Movement‖, (Ela Bhatt, 1997) starts by glancing through their real situations. She quotes a vegetable vendor, a farm labourer, a junk seller, a garment worker, a block printer etc. who are economically active but whose contribution remained ‗invisible‘ to the national economy. She then describes self-employed women who form a large proportion of the self employed. She points out the extent of undercounting and the limitations of not having a representation from any side. Moreover, the vulnerability is another factor and the traditional support systems have broken down. Then the author introduces, Self-Employed Women‘s Association (SEWA) which grew out of the women‘s wing of Textile Labour Association started by Gandhi in 1917 in Ahmadabad. The source of inspiration is from Gandhian


thought. This organisation acts as a trade union and struggles for the right of representation, right to work, fair wages, better working conditions, legal protection, social security and welfare measures. The next sessions are about how they go about organising these workers and different campaigns that they have conducted for street vendors, artisans etc. and through these campaigns they have achieved what is called as a movement by focussing on political visibility. They concentrate on the potential of co-operatives in the unorganised sector. And the article concludes by foreseeing the future role of co-operatives in the unorganised sector. The book, ―Women, Gender and Labour Migration: Historical and Global Perspective‖, (ed. Pamela Sharpe, 2001) relates gender and the experience of migration. According to the author, migration is a social phenomenon of modern history. She explains this in the introduction part, Gender and the Experience of Migration. Twentieth century has marked a turning point towards far greater female migration over long distances. There has been an increase in the female work participation and this can be one of the reasons. The author tries to relate what female migration and the contemporary world. For women, it is an extent of support. She mentions gender specific migration where she says that ―it is important to note that migration is not a single discrete event but part of a strategy for coping with economic change, an opportunity which depends on multiplex links between rural and urban areas‖. She identifies that most of the female migration is considered as part of household survival. These migrations reflect family strategies and conflicts where she interrogates the idea of modernity often applied to migrants. According to the author, work clearly emerges as a major reason for woman‘s movement. Moving to a better off position is clearly seen as an instinct for all human beings. She also specifies further scope of the study on migration like emotional and physical impact of migration, masculinity and migration etc. The article, ―Unorganised Workers: Deprivation, Social Security Needs, Policy Implications‖, (V M Rao, D Rajasekhar, J Y Suchitra, 2006) talks about the social security provisions to the unorganised sector. The unorganised sector is currently receiving the urgent attention of the central government and some of the state governments. This paper based on a large sample of unorganised workers – construction workers, domestic workers and agricultural labourers presents indices of their economic conditions and deprivations to show how inadequate it is to use the below poverty line criterion for providing benefits to unorganised sector workers. This paper studies the labourers from the state of Karnataka. This paper analyses the priority social security needs in order to show the diversity within and across several sectors, and also reviews the policy measures that exists and those on the anvil. The authors say that the prevailing trends in the organised sector are likely to decline.


The unorganised workers form over 90 per cent of the India‘s workforce. According to the authors, labour reforms and technologies promoting growth without proportionate increase in employment would restrict employment growth in the organised private sector. But it is difficult to avoid the predominance of the unorganised workers in the total workforce in the emerging scenarios. This paper is based on the data covering 910 households belonging to three sub-sectors of unorganised workers- construction workers (CW) and domestic workers (DW) in urban areas and agricultural labourers (AL) in rural areas- selected as representatives of the three types. In the second section, indicative measures of deprivations suffered by the worker households in the three sub-sectors are provided. Three indices namely are Livelihood Security Index (LIVS), which is based on access to Public Distribution System (PDS), access to land, adequacy of employment and dependence on money lenders on essential consumption, the Human Development Index (HDI) which is based on literacy status of children, schooling of children and access to health facilities, and Poor Life-Style Index (LS) which is based on type of house, access to drinking water and balanced diet. These indices take values between 0 and 100. The third section reports the priority social security needs as ranked by the workers, the expenditures incurred by them on work related accidents, sickness etc. and the sources on which the depended to meet the expenses. This section of the paper also includes the responses of the workers regarding their willingness to pay for security cover. The last section comments on the existing social security measures for unorganised workers. In the social security schemes the first and foremost criterion is the BPL criterion. Majority of the workers were above the BPL cut-off; yet they faced several vulnerabilities. But this does not mean that they do not need social security cover. Another limitation with the social security scheme is that not all unorganised workers are covered by the existing schemes. It is a serious mistake to treat all unorganised workers as homogenous for the purpose of formulating strategies and programmes for their development. The need for social security benefits among the unorganised sector workers is pressing as their economic status is much lower than that of the lowest strata of employees in the organised sector. Therefore reaching to these workers is a challenging task.

Most of the articles are written from a gender perspective. These are eye openers to the real issues and problems faced by women and the unorganised sector. Gendering of work and places of production has led to gendering of the real output and its quality. Conflicts and misunderstandings have often led to the misinterpretations of data enumeration. Lack of proper records has ignored the contribution made by women.


After scanning the work already done in this area, the stage is now set to put the theory into the analysis. Chapter III sets the theoretical base for the study.


3.1 Theoretical Background

Income is the main component of economic well being and income tends to be positively correlated with other components such as leisure, favourable non-pecuniary aspects of one‘s job and so on. In a competitive market, the same good or service (labour) should receive the same price (wage); equally productive workers should receive equal wages. The practical importance of wage or labour market discrimination is that wage rates or earnings- the latter being the product of the hourly wage and hours worked- are the most important component of income. Competition is consistent with labour market discrimination. Wage determination is done with respect to human capital investment i.e. this theory specifies a positive relation between wages and such assumed causes of productivity in the labour market as the workers education and training. Economic theories of discrimination deal almost exclusively with discrimination in the labour market and they deal exclusively with demand side of the market. The theoretical challenge is how the workers who are intrinsically equal in productivity receive unequal wages. With respect to the supply side; it is effectively neutral. Discrimination in demand can be seen as a willingness-to pay to avoid contact with the minority group or, equivalently for my purposes, willingness-to-pay for contact with the majority group. This specification, which is due to Gary Becker, expresses and measures prejudice as a taste (preference) in money terms.


Neoclassical Theories
A. Exact Models: Assumes perfect information

Competitive Theories No monopolies or collusive behaviour among economic agents. Sources of discriminatory preferences may be: 1. Consumers 2. Workers 3. Employers

Monopoly Theories Exclusive control by one person or group. Control may be exercised 1. By the firm over the product's price (only one seller) 2. By employer over workers' wages (monopsony, only one buyer) 3. By workers over wages (trade unions) 4. By government over a variety of market conditions (e.g., wage regulation)

B. Stochastic Models: Information lacking in some respect

Theory of Statistical Discrimination In the absence of full knowledge of the workers' productivity, firms rely on observable characteristics (race, sex, age) to estimate productivity.

Institutional Theories  

Characterized by reliance on historical studies, legal analysis, or case studies. Capable of describing combined forces of monopolies, discriminatory preferences, and particularistic circumstances, but no generalizable theory is generated.


The neo-classical theories of discrimination in competitive markets by consumers, workers and employers imply that there will be no long-run (sustained) wage differential between equally productive majority and minority workers; it follows that wage differentials will disappear. Discrimination may be predicted to exist in the short run but not in the longrun, with no basis for determining the time period required for transition. The neoclassical models were those constructed on the basis of complete information. In practice, the variables cannot be known with certainty. The theory of statistical discrimination is based on this uncertainty and, therefore, has an initial appeal. Because firms must hire, pay, and promote workers without perfect knowledge about the workers' productivity, employers rely on observable demographic characteristics as indicators of productivity. According to the neoclassical theory in competitive markets, the sources of discrimination are consumers, workers and employers. The monopoly theories do not imply monopoly power in the labour market. The monopolist must have the power to determine wages and must be willing to forgo money profits to "overpay" white workers (or male workers, etc.), and the monopolist must be willing to repel the efforts of non discriminating capitalists from taking over and increasing the monetary return on the investment. Surely the stockholders of a monopoly corporation desire to maximize profits. These considerations imply limited scope for discrimination due to product monopoly. Monopsony, in which an employer is the sole buyer of labour in a market, is theoretically important, because it is the neoclassical model of exploitation. Workers are captive in a market where there is only one employer, or where a group of employers collude and act as one buyer. Monopsony represents a rare area of common ground between neoclassical and Marxian models of the labour market. I doubt, however, that the monopsony model is empirically important in modern times, when markets are larger, the one-industry town has declined, and workers are more mobile than they were in decades past. Workers' monopolies-trade unions-are potentially a source of discrimination against minority workers. We know that unions attempt to gain economic rents for their members in the form of above-competitive wages, and that this requires that the unions must limit entry. Thus, the union's control over entry, its domination by majority group workers, and its ability to raise wages above competitive levels give the majority group the capacity to discriminate against minorities without being at a competitive disadvantage. When it comes to women and men, women are less likely to be union members and when they are members of the union,


their wage gains are smaller than those of men. Likewise, black are more likely to join the union than the whites. Institutional theories of discrimination are a varied group of historical, legal, and case-study analyses of labour market discrimination. They lack a formal structure and are limited in their generalization. At the same time these studies are able to deal with more complicated structures than the economic neoclassical models; they may describe the interrelations of the combined forces of, say, monopolistic industries, trade unions, government regulation, and community prejudices. With respect to the neo-classical theories, the source of discrimination is identified. Gary S Becker, in his discrimination theory uses the neo classical approach to studying the impact of these factors. If the labour force participation of women is analysed, there is an increasing trend. One of the reasons can be the rapid expansion of the service sector. The growth in their earning power raised the forgone value of their time spent at child care and other household activities, which encouraged the substitution away from parental, especially mothers‘ time. Both these changes raised the labour force participation of married women. However, the increased participation may have temporarily reduced the earnings of women because increased supply generally lowers price, the average labour force experience of working women would be initially reduced. The persistence of these large differences may be the evidence of substantial market discrimination among women. Responsibility for childcare, food preparation and other household activities also prevents the earnings of women from rising more rapidly. There is prevalence of sexual division of labour is the root cause that accelerates the presence of discrimination. For example, the earnings of women are adversely affected by household responsibilities even when they want to participate in the labour force as many hours as men do, because they become tired, and must stay at home to tend sick children or for other emergencies; they are less able to work during odd hours or take jobs requiring much travel. Therefore, they spend only less energy for each activity and thus earn less per hour than men. The household responsibilities of (married) women reduce their hourly earnings below those of (married) men even if both participates the same number of hours and have the same market capital. Likewise, the hourly earnings of single women exceed those of married women even when both work the same number of hours and have the same market capital. Therefore, the responsibility of married women for childcare and other housework has major implications for earnings and occupational differences. The discrimination in the household activities affects the labour participation of women. If there exists a change in the


household responsibilities from women to men in the family, the per hour earnings of women would also increase.

3.2 Background study of Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram)

Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of the state of Kerala. It is located in the far south of the state. The place has a very traditional history dating back to 1000BCE. Though it was not under the direct control of the British rule, the area of Travancore (Thiruvithamkoor) featured prominently in India‘s freedom struggle. Thiruvananthapuram city and several other places in the district occupy an important place in ancient tradition, folklores and literature of the State. South Kerala, particularly Thiruvananthapuram, had a political and cultural history in the early past which was in some respects independent from that of the rest of Kerala. The economy of Thiruvananthapuram city was earlier based on the tertiary sector with about 60 per cent of the workforce being employed as government servants. The city has the headquarters of all major offices located in the district. The population of the district as per 2011 census is 3,307,284 and it is the second most populated district after Malappuram. The area is 33.75 per cent urbanised, most of the people are employed in the government sector.

Table 3.2.1 Trivandrum Profile

Total Population Female Population Male Population Density of Population Total area Total Literacy rate Female Literacy Male Literacy Source: Government of Kerala (2011 census)

3,307,284 1,723,084 1,584,200 1509 people per sq. Km 2192 92.66 per cent (2011 census) 90.89 94.60

The state legislative assembly and Secretariat are located here as Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. The city consists of government hospitals and other health services.


Different headquarters are located in around the city and there are several development agencies that work under or in partnership with the Corporation including the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) and Thiruvananthapuram Road Development Company Limited (TRDCL). The city has organisations like Sakhi, Women‘s Commission to take care of the issues dealing with women and children. The city also has infrastructural facilities like electricity and water supply schemes that cover 100 per ecnt within the city limits. The sewerage system in the city was implemented at the time of the Travancore Kingdom, and modernised in 1938. This scheme for the disposal of waste and sewage is an underground system. The whole system is controlled by Kerala Water Authority now. With respect to the roads, railways and other transportation facilities, it is centralised and there is a well planned execution of these transportation services.

The city is also a major tourist destination for both domestic and international tourists. The tourism department of the state receives a major contribution from such tourists. The existence of Sree Padmanabha Temple attracts many people from all over the world during the Laksha Deepam Festival which happens ones in six years. Thiruvananthapuram appears as a laid back and quiet city to a casual observer. However there are considerable cultural activities in the city. The cultural activities are more during the festival season of Onam in August/September, and during the tourist season later in the year. The state government organises the tourism week celebrations every year during the Onam with cultural events conducted at various centres in the city. The other major events include the annual flower show, the Attukal Pongala, the Aaraat of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the

Beemapally Uroos, Vettucaud Perunaal etc. Even though the district is a major academic hub, unemployment is a serious issue in Thiruvananthapuram, as it is in the whole of Kerala. There are many universities and educational institutions and public libraries that add to the traditional educational quality. The increase in the unemployment rate was from 8.8 per cent in 1998 to 34.3 per cent in 2008, thus registering a 25.5 per cent absolute and a 289.7 per cent relative increase in five years. Thiruvananthapuram taluk ranks third in Kerala with 36.3 per cent of its population unemployed. The in-migration of the unemployed from other districts also boosts this high unemployment rate. As per 2011 census, the populace below the poverty line in the city was 19,667. A BPL survey indicated the urban poor population as 120,367. Majority of these populace lives in slums and coastal fishing areas (census 2011).


This apparent paradox—high human development and low economic development— is visible in the entire state of Kerala, and is often dubbed as the Kerala phenomenon or the Kerala model of development. From the background study of the city of Trivandrum, it further helps in analysing the present condition prevailing in the city.


Analysis1 The present study tries to analyse the social and economic background of the women workers who are employed as domestic workers. The factors that determine the social wellbeing of their families are focussed in order to get an understanding of what the actual situation is. The data is collected by making the workers fill up the questionnaire and by communicating with them. It may be argued that socio-economic disadvantages, sufficiently reflected in different indicators, identify their socio-economic status, and act as push factors that drag these women to paid domestic work in an urban area. Two types of domestic maids are identified from the survey. One group of workers are not breadwinners of their families, but they were willing to serve as domestic workers for the purpose of supplementing the income. On the other hand, most of the domestic maids are working to earn their livelihood. Domestic work is not only a mundane and repetitive work, but it remains as a devalued sector with unstable working conditions, to an extent, even today, domestic work still remains a low valued and invisible work and has its roots in the capitalistic and patriarchal discourses. When looking at the nature of the different services, these workers do more of cleaning, cooking and maintaining: in fact they perform the three Cs; cooking, cleaning and caring. The employers of these workers are largely from upper middle class. There are several factors that determine the employment of such workers. Domestic work is always attributed to women. The stereotyping of jobs is an important aspect but is not within the scope of this study. There are several reasons that pull women to work under such conditions. Social problems like racism, ethnicity, indigenous status, colour based hiring, and caste based discrimination in the contexts like India are going to make this theme of domestic work more relevant than ever before for further exploration but is not within the purview of this study.


The data used in this chapter is from primary source.


4.1 Theoretical analysis

The present study offers a support for a neoclassical hypothesis. The analysis made in the light of the neo-classical theory of labour market discrimination projects the source of discrimination. The theory identifies three economic agents, and it is the employers who are the consumers of the labour service, the source of discrimination. Even if the market

condition assumes perfect information about the agents; when it comes to human capital, there will be little knowledge about their productivity. The analysis identifies the factors that contribute to the ‗distaste‘ of the employers. The reasons identified are the caste, religion of the women workers. In most of the houses, the employers prefer workers from their own community. Even with respect to their payments, they are prejudiced in such a way that workers of their own community receive special bonuses for festivals and they also receive non monetary benefits. For example, the Muslim households employ Muslim workers for domestic help. There is a discrimination made on grounds of caste and religion. It may be that employers have a preference for workers from the same community. In India, many Brahmin homes employ Brahmin cooks. Some even employ only male cooks. Generally it is expected that people of minority groups, and more generally people of lower status, will be ‗weak sellers‘ of their labour, unable to hold out for the same pay as the employer must give others for labour that is no better than theirs. The employer is able to discriminate in this way because the ‗weak sellers‘ are unlikely or unable to demand equal pay with those of higher status, even though the difference of status does not actually affect the capability of doing the work. When talking of this difference in their race, the workers of the same community is preferred over the other weaker classes who may be in need of an occupation. The employer on the other hand must also be secure from interloping of other buyers. It is the employer‘s discretion to fix the wage and demand the labour, and there is no significant difference in their services quality but the employers play a major role in the decision making of whether to provide the employment or not. Constructs such as race, colour of the skin of a potential employee, language and nationality of domestic worker become quite a deciding factors in the persuasion of employment in domestic work segment. Looking at the theoretical base helps the study in setting the axis of research. It has been seen that many such trends have been observed from a number of such studies.


4.2 Regression analysis The first objective that is analysed is with regard to the health expenditure of the domestic workers. Apart from their own household work, these women carry out the domestic services for other family units. Therefore, these women work for an average of 54 hours a week (from the sample). An analysis has been conducted by regressing their health expenditure on the number hours of domestic work. The regression method is employed to find out the nature of relationship between the two variables. The null hypothesis (N0) is that there is no significant relation between the health expenditure and the number of hours worked. The Empirical model is as follows: Y1 (health expenditure) = α + β X1 (hours worked) + ûi Where Y is the health expenditure per week and X is the number of hours worked in a week. α and β are the OLS estimators. There are several other factors that affect the health expenditure for instance the nutrient intake of the women, their age, the size of the family ̂ etc... all such factors are captured by the ui which is measured to be normally distributed with zero mean on the constant variable.

α = constant

(X1) = explanatory variable (number of hours worked)

β = regression coefficient

(Y1)= dependent variable (health expenditure)

Table 4.2.1 OLS Estimates of the estimated regression

Parameters/Indicators Coefficient Dependent(constant) Independent 22.650 7.47

t value (sig) .642 .000


The regression output gives the equation as: Y = 22.650 + 7.747 X S.E  (48.508) (.833) , R2 = .96 There is a positive relation between hours of work and health expenditure. An increase in the number of hours worked will in an average increase health expenditure by Rs 8 in an average.  The significant t value is .000; which means that the output is statistically significant. The number of hours worked statistically and significantly influence health expenditure.  The R square is 96 per cent (.96); which means that 96 per cent of the changes in the health expenditure per week is explained by the number of hours worked in a week. From the analysis it is seen that, we reject the null hypothesis. That is, there is a significant relation between the health expenditure and the number of hours worked, with respect to the domestic workers sample collected.

4.3 Demographic profile

The table (Table 4.3.1) shows the distribution of workers with respect to age interval. More than half of the respondents are in the age group of 25 to 55 which is the reproductive age concerning a woman. Out of the 100 women, there were only 9 of them who were staying with the employer.
Table 4.3.1. Domestic Workers Age

Age Less than 25 25 to 55 More than 55 Total

Frequency 15 58 27 100


For such women, when the ‗per day‘ payment was taken, it is comparatively lower because the food and accommodation are provided by the employer. Two of them were unmarried women who stayed with the employer. Their salary is paid directly while for one the amount was deposited in their account. The rest were either a divorcee or a widow. These women have their children and their parents to look after. The kinds of expenditure they have to meet every month are education expenditure of their children, household expenses day to day needs, hospital expenditure etc. A majority of the other domestic workers are married and for most of them, their husbands do not have a regular source of income. Therefore, the whole family depends on the income that she earns by working in someone‘s home by doing all domestic work. When these workers were interviewed, it can be noticed that all of them are from poor family background. And most of them got a good support from their husbands.

Table 4.3.2 Domestic Workers Religion and Social Category

Religion Hindu Muslim Christian Total Social category SC and ST OBC No response others Total

Frequency 65 17 18 100

62 22 9 7 100

As shown in the above table (Table 4.3.2) Hindus constitute 65 per cent of the sample, the Christians and the Muslims constitute 18 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. Perhaps the differences arise from bias in the sample selection since the area that was under the study was a Hindu majority area. Moreover, the role of communal preferences in hiring domestic workers was also seen as a possibility. The union office bearers commented that Muslim


domestic workers are likely to be hired by employers from the same community. With respect to the social category, it was difficult to get proper response from the workers. Either they replied ‗do not know‘ or ‗cannot say‘. More than half of the workers are under SC and ST category and only 22 per cent are in OBC category. 9 of them did not give a response to the question and a few replied they are not from a backward community. Revealing their position in the society seemed to be a difficult task for most of them. When their employers preferred women from their own community, it seemed like a difficult task for the union office bearers to get such women. It is important to note that, considering the invisibility of feminine occupations like domestic work, arriving at a credible estimate of domestic workers‘ population appears to be a daunting challenge. Looking at the marital status of the workers, majority of them are married and they have a family who are dependent on their wages. Since majority of the workers are from urban areas, the kind of expenditure they have and the unexpected expenses they have to meet everyday affects the manner in which they make decisions for their day to day needs. From the figure (Figure 4.3.1) it is clear that, 49 per cent of the workers are currently married and majority of them have a minimum of two children. But even if they are married not many of them get support from their husband or any other family member. It has like an unwritten law become the sole responsibility of the women to feed, nurture and educate their children. The role of the father is minimal. This has led many women to get into debt. The percentages of workers who are widowed include 29 per cent. This section is from the people who are living in the urban areas. There are many who have migrated to urban areas in search of jobs after the death of their husband. In such a situation, their whole salary is spent for their rent and for children‘s education.

Figure 4.3.1 Marital Status of domestic workers

Marital Status marital status never married currently married widowed divorced/separated





An important finding that could be obtained from the study is regarding the lack of a proper saving pattern. Not many of them hold a bank account (see Table 4.9.1). They keep the cash with them, and only a few have durable asset holdings (see Table 4.9.1). The main reason for this is their lack of awareness of saving, but even if they are aware of it; many are not able to keep aside a portion of their income for future uncertainties. This may be because of their lack of proper income and increased expenditures. Another 14 per cent of the workers are not married. Most of them fall under the age group of less than 25, however there were many senior women who have never been married (see Table 4.3.1). When asked for the reason, they said they had come to stay with their employers when they were young and later did not feel the need for a marriage. One of the reasons is that, they had got accustomed to living with their employers and the study shows that such live-ins share a good bonding with their employers, as they enjoy a sense of security. Therefore, most of them chose to stay with their employers and went home twice or thrice a year. The rest of the workers in the sample are either divorced or separated. They have the burden of looking after the children and their parents. Not many of them are from the placement agency, therefore in such cases they do not get a support from the agencies too (see Figure 4.8.1).


Since most of them are from the urban areas their expenses and requirements are costly. Therefore, the workers have to face different challenges each day. An understanding of their demographic profile showing their age group, marital status, religion and social category gives a clear picture of what these women have to face in their lives to make a living. 4.4 Nature of Services The different services performed by the domestic workers are represented in the figure (Figure 4.4.1) which explains how much of work is done by these workers in a day. Most of their employers are people from the middle and upper middle class groups. Irrespective of the multitasking done by the workers, their pay is not commensurate with the effort involved and is also less as compared to the other occupation of the informal sector. Another important characteristic of this sector is that, majority of the workers are women because it is believed that, women have the talent to perform all the household tasks at a greater speed and with greater efficiency. This is a stereotype that is prevalent throughout the country and also in majority of the world.
Figure 4.4.1 Number of Houses Covered in a day

No of Houses Covered in a day
39% 35%


12% 3% 2% more than 5

1 house

2 houses

3 houses

4 houses

5 houses

From the figure it can be seen that, most of them go to two to three houses a day to perform the domestic work. The women who stay with the workers are preferred next. There are only 3 per cent of total workers from the sample who go to 5 houses and only 2 per cent go to more than 5 houses a day. Majority of the workers cover two to three houses a day (see


Figure 4.4.1). This pattern points to the flexibility of the labour market for low wage invisible work almost resembling perfectly competitive labour market scenarios. While informal work offers flexibility in fixing the working hours. This is another benefit that these workers have; even then they have fixed timings at each house. When asked regarding the several type of work that they perform, majority of the workers do cleaning of utensils, washing and cleaning of the house and two fifth of the workers do cooking for the employer. Rest of the services show lower response rates.
Figure 4.4.2: Type of Domestic Services

Type of Domestic Services shopping taking care of the child cleaning the house washing of clothes washing of utensils cooking 0 cooking % of workers 40 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

washing of utensils 84

washing of cleaning the taking care clothes house of the child 79 87 23

shopping 18

The live ins are not included in the above description because they have to do all the job some way or the other. Majority of the workers perform the cleaning tasks and not all are allowed to cook. Most of the domestic maids carry out all domestic tasks except cooking. It is generally thought that cooking involves some skill and expertise, moreover it being a time consuming process, therefore cannot be done efficiently by a domestic helper. In lieu of cooking in the employer‘s household, they can serve in more than two households at a time. Sometimes, the employers do not allow the workers to cook for them may be due to the lack of hygiene or because of their beliefs. Cooking is generally delegated to the efficient workers. This skilled task is not assigned to lower class workers, because higher caste employers do not allow schedule caste or schedule tribe women to enter their kitchen. The domestic


workers mostly spend their time for cleaning activities and this is done almost every day. Only 23 per cent of the workers take care of the child and only 18 per cent do shopping for their employers (see Figure 4.4.2). Sometimes the workers had to participate in performing allied activities in the employer‘s household. These were in addition to the regular household tasks. This implies that there is no job description. Daily marketing, ration drawing, childcare activities etc. were often found to be performed by the domestic maids in the houses where the husband and wife are both employed. More than half of the workers who perform such tasks are not paid over time allowances. Sometimes they are compensated in kind, which is done by giving them food, clothes travel expenses etc. Since most of the workers covered in the sample are in the age group of 25 to 55 (see Table 4.3.1) which is the productive age concerning a woman, the work carried out by them will affect their health as well. The number of houses served by the workers largely depends on the physical capability of the individual domestic. When looking at the occupational health hazard relating to domestic work, mostly the women are the targeted category. Even when there are lot of health programs for women introduced by the government in order to secure the health of women who are in the reproductive age group, many are unaware of its benefits and facilities. Lack of awareness is another important problem faced by the people. Domestics like other working women face various occupational health hazards. Since it is named labour, it takes a toll on their physical well being. Domestic work is extremely exhaustive and mundane. Further, since they constantly use detergents they suffer from skin ailments. Due to the posture at the time of performing the jobs they also develop acute low back pain and knee injury. Therefore the work profile has to be looked upon in order to get an idea of how much they exert during the time of work and how long they work.

4.5 Work Profile of Domestic Workers

More or less all middle and upper class people employ preferably female domestics in their households. The female domestic workers can be categorized as part time workers, full time workers and live in workers. ‗Live ins‘ are those workers who live with the family and are on call for duty. The part time workers serve for 3 to 4 hours a day in a household. They


work in 2 to 3 houses daily (Figure 4.4.1). However, number of households to be served by these workers largely depends on their efficiency and capability to work. Since the work they do in one home is not time bound there would be times when they get late for work in some homes due to extra work in the previous house. This causes undue pressure for the Domestics and sometimes leads to the loss of jobs in some cases. On the other hand, the full time workers serve in a single household for maximum duration of 8 to 10 hours daily which does not include their idle time. The employers normally provide them one time meal. Often, these part time workers demand for one time meal when there is a heavy workload. The residential workers stay at the employer‘s house and they are provided two time meals during their stay with their employers. They are given living space, food, clothes and other facilities. However, this depends on the economic status of the employer. The residential workers do all works of the employer‘s household. Therefore, if the work profile of these workers is taken, they appear as regular employees with monthly pay received by them. As shown in the figure( Figure 4.5.1), close to one-fourth of domestic workers, who responded to the question on their wages, do not earn more than Rs.2000 per month, while just one sixth earn more than Rs. 5000 per month. From the figure, it is clear that a majority of the workers earn an amount ranging from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000. As the wages increase, there is lesser number of workers who are preferred by the employers. Not many of them are able to meet their expenses. Along with the work not all are given food from their houses. For those who come only to wash and clean the houses, they are given only refreshments like tea or coffee sometimes, along with snacks. The workers who spend two to three hours a day in one house are given food during their working time. The real wages in the form of food, cloth etc. is not sufficient. Sometimes the quality of food provided by the employer is inferior. Some are provided with leftover food.


Figure 2.5.1 Monthly Wages of Domestic Workers

Monthly Wages of Domestic workers wages in RS more than 5000 4000 to 5000 3000 to 4000 2000 to 3000 less than 2000

15 17 21 22 25

Most of them (90 per cent) never faced sexual harassment at the work place. This may be seen as underreporting because not all were comfortable when asked about the difficulties they had faced at the work place and even during the working hours. Three fourth of the workers were not engaged in any subsidiary form of work. Moreover, almost all workers work without a written contract. But only a few, who are members of the placement agencies, have a contract with the agency. In such cases, it acts as a protective group. Similarly, a similar proportion of the workers received no prior notice before they get terminated. In the presence of the agency, they will get support from such groups where as for the others it is a challenging period until they get a new place.
Table 4.5.1 Benefits and Other Facilities

Benefits Festival holidays Festival bonus National holidays Fixed holidays

Receive (in %) 12 49 11 87

Do not receive(in %) 88 51 89 13

Total 100 100 100 100


Most of them do have fixed holidays (especially Sundays), and they work even during festivals and other national holidays. Many are not paid for their extra work during these times. Their mode of travel is either bus or they prefer walking. These workers are at the urban areas, so they prefer working at nearer places than a very far off place. When asked whether the pay that they get is enough for their monthly expenses, most of them replied saying what they get is just enough for a normal life, in case of any emergency they have to ask either their employers or others for money. They find it hard to lend from others, but those few who are a part of the agency get some support from them. The status of social security is a stunning factor because almost all of them except for a few lack any social security like LIC policies. There is dire need for a social security programme, comprising of Unemployment Insurance, Sickness Insurance, and Old Age Insurance which cater to specific needs of occupations. Regarding the payment decisions, the workers fix the rate for ‗daily‘ services. It mainly depends on the services that they provide. Like it has been seen before, not all are allowed to cook; therefore the wage comparatively will be lesser. Likewise, if the worker spends the whole day at one house, then she will have to cook, clean and take care of the children or old people in the house, even in such cases the payment is fixed and they are not paid more for the extra effort that they put in. This is the problem with not having a job description. Along with the salary, in the case of such workers, they are provided with food as well. The payment mechanism is as per given in the table (Table 4.5.2).

Table 4.5.2 Payment Mechanism

Payment Basis Daily basis Weekly basis Monthly basis Total

Frequency 27 12 61 100

For more than half of the workers, the salary is paid on a monthly basis. And the mode of payment is cash. Only one tenth (see Table 4.9.1) of the workers have an account in the bank and the salary is transferred to their account. When asked about the reason, they


said, it is safer in the bank than at home. This account is maintained by they themselves. There are only 27 workers, who work on a daily basis. And for them, they do not have a regular work, rather they work for a few days or so; therefore they get paid on each day. Some prefer to have a regular work so that they have a regular source of income; whereas certain others prefer to have seasonal employment that is in case of emergency only. For such women, their husbands have a regular income to support the family. For those families, who have salaried spouses, their spouses entail the women to low-wage-flexible part time work. For all of them the wages are fixed on the services provided by them. Even if the workers are not regular at one place, the payment is made on a daily basis and they are paid for the different types of work they do. Only for a few of the workers, the employer fixes the rate and it is also done with respect to the current rate prevailing in the market and also by taking into consideration the demand for domestic workers in the city. When a person approaches the agencies, then the rate is fixed between the agency and the employer by taking into account the availability of the workers in a particular region. In the case of full time workers, it is further more difficult, because the domestic workers will have to look after their children or elderly person in the family along with the regular household work. But for most, it is the type of work that matters while fixing the wages. During the time of emergency, usually the workers lend from their employers. Most of them get financial support from them and it is adjusted later. The domestic workers are not satisfied with their present wages and they expect more. It is true that the wage levels of domestic maids are much less than not only what they need, but also lower than their male counterparts who often do almost comparable type of work. The lack of awareness is yet another problem because since most of the women workers are less educated; it is easier to exploit them. Often the nature of work may vary from one day to another or volume of work rises day by day in the employers‘ house. Then the workers have to do all tasks with initial agreed wages. The employers do not offer any extra wages for increasing workload. On the other hand, workers do not protest because of the fear of losing the job and getting fired. When cities generate more high-wage jobs, primarily deriving from globalization process, the demand for human resources specializing in domestic services is likely to go up, generating a subsistence wage class who form the base for ‗survival circuits‘ in the city. The migration of workers to the urban areas in search of job opportunities can be studied as an important determinant for further analysis of their work profile. The figure 4.5.2 shows the


percentage of women who have migrated to the city of Trivandrum. And figure 4.5.3 shows the reasons for their migration. From the figure (Figure 4.5.2), it is seen that 65 per cent of the workers have migrated to the city of Trivandrum. Most of the female migration can be seen as a part of household survival. This is evident when the reasons for migration are covered. Moving to a better off position is always the motive of every individual especially when the mobility of the women workers is questioned. It is one of their family strategies to move to a different place where there is more scope for their betterment and development. The kind of development that they are looking for may be only in terms of monetary benefits because the basic need of food and shelter ought to be satisfied initially to complete their first stage towards betterment. The 65 per cent of workers have migrated into the city because of the following reasons. Almost half of the women workers said to have migrated in search of job opportunities. As part of development and modernisation, migration into cities can be seen as one of the advancement towards betterment. Availability of job opportunities is an attractive feature of cities. Another reason for migration is marriage. 34 per cent said to have migrated because their husband was working in the city (see Figure 4.5.3). Most of the women who have migrated have been settled in the city for more than 10 years. This pattern has been increasing due to high labour mobility from rural to urban areas.

Figure 4.3.2 Domestic Workers Migration

Domestic workers Migration migrated to TVM Born in TVM No response


24% 65%


Figure 4.5.3 Reasons for Migration

Reasons for Migration
10% 8% Job opportunity

48% Father/ Mother's migration 34% No response

Another 8 per cent said to have migrated because of their parent‘s migration. The rest were not able to give specific reasons because they had to come from their native place due to debt problem, and they did not own any land or house there. Even then, in such circumstances the main motive is to earn a living. Most of them did not want to give a similar situation of hardships and sufferings for their children, which they had undergone. Therefore, majority of the ‗no response‘ percentage (Figure 4.5.3) opted to move into the city when got a chance in order to provide an improved environment for their children.

4.6 Health Consideration of Domestic Workers

Regarding the health statuses of the women workers, four-fifth of respondents said that they access health services from government hospitals, and then they prefer cooperative hospitals, while only one-sixth of them avail health services from private clinic (see Figure 4.6.1). Most people, two-third to four-fifth access health facilities due to illnesses such as


headache, giddiness, body pain, cough & cold and back Pain, while one–sixth of people visit health facilities because of diarrhoea. Responding to the question ―Do you have any serious diseases?‖ 47 per cent of respondents said that they do not know whether they suffer from any diseases. One-fourth of them said that they suffer from Blood Pressure (BP) and other cardiac diseases, while responses in respect of other diseases show much lower frequencies (see Figure 4.6.2).
Figure 4.6.1 Health Facilities

Health Facilities
Government Private Cooperative / Municipal




Apart from disease reported here, domestic workers are prone to occupational hazards which emanate from sources like pests, flammable trash piles, non-electrical safety hazards, garbage and frayed electrical cords. Further, work related injuries and back pain are commonly noticed among women domestic workers. It is important to note (from the Figure 4.6.2) that headache and giddiness, are recurrent reasons for seeking health care. Though it is shared by majority of workers, these two categories of illnesses, instead of being the actual diseases, may be the proxy for pain which originate from internal discomforts due to more serious diseases. It appears that in the absence of appropriate health insurances, grave diseases which affect these workers are likely to be masked by simple forms of illnesses like fever, headache and so on. 80 per cent of the workers are anaemic, the type of work that they indulge in and also the irregular food habits can be the possible reasons behind it. Most of the workers do not have proper nutrient intake, therefore apart from the tedious work that they perform, they are not able to follow a proper good diet. A few suffer from allergies that


causes by using the bar soap, dust allergies etc. even such kind of health problems are also caused as part of the work they do.

Figure 4.6.2 Occupational Illness

occupational illness
Anaemic allergies children's health Pregnancy related issues Back pain Diarrhoea Cough & cold Body pain Giddiness Headache 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Headac Giddine Body he ss pain no of persons 89 76 92

Cough Diarrho & cold ea 87 67

Back pain 91

Pregnan children Anaemi cy allergies c related 's health issues 70 69 43 90

From the figure (Figure 4.6.2) it is clear that body pain, back pain, headache and anaemia are the diseases that the women domestic workers suffer from. It is not that easy to avoid such diseases because it comes along with the type of work that they perform. Lack of proper food and nonstop physical exertion can be the reason for their illnesses. Many state level studies have indicated its prevalence among men and women. Women are seen to be suffering from iron deficiencies than men (Seth p165). These workers do not get a place to rest. They get up in the morning to prepare food for their family and have to leave for work early morning. When asked regarding how often they consult a doctor, the answer is, only when need arises. But most of them fall ill very often. It is not just them, but children in their family get sick very often. Usually the different problems they face with regard to their children‘s health are diarrhoea, underweight, malnutrition etc. One of the serious problems


facing the domestic workers is that since they are not recognised as ‗workers‘ they do not enjoy access to social security benefits that other workers do, like health insurance, maternity protection and old-age security. As seen from the questionnaire analysis, not many women get protection during their maternity period and old age. Long and unpredictable working hours impose a high cost on workers‘ health and well-being and, in turn, erode their efficiency and the quality of service they provide to their employers‘ households. The most crucial factors affecting employees‘ health are long working hours and patterns of shift work that involve an irregular distribution of working hours and right work. As part of their work, the domestic workers undergo psychological health and stress that are results of lack of sleep and insufficient breaks. Several factors, such as low job satisfaction, poor job rewards or low satisfaction with the salary, low control over work, and individual choice and preferences, are likely to influence the degree to which long hours lead to stress and mental health problems. In some cases, it is loss or poor quality of sleep, rather than long working hours per se, that contribute to mental stress and depression. Due to the illnesses, the quality of work and their performances gradually diminishes. However, the relationship is complex. Sleep loss, fatigue, motivation and work effort may influence the connection between long hours and poor performance. Having rest breaks may enhance productivity and performance. It is vital for a woman‘s health and life that she has access to medical and health care needs for preventive, as well as curative health, so as to be able to play her full part in the development of the country.

4.7 Educational Attainments

Education has been a very important part of Indian social and cultural life from the earliest times. Manu in his famous Manusmriti states that women needed to acquire knowledge for running a good household, managing the home economy and inculcating the knowledge the knowledge of medicine as well as crafts. Educating women was considered important even from the Vedic period onwards, even Buddhism and Jainism were great agents of change; they gave importance to the status of women. Education has been subjected to many innovative approaches. The Kerala model is often cited to show the high rates of literacy and good general education. In Kerala, the movement of female education started as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century


when, in 1817, Rani Lakshmibai of Travancore (Trivandrum) made a proclamation emphasising the need for universal primary education and the duty of the state to provide it. Among Nairs who were ruling and the aristocratic elite resulted in girls being valued and their need for education realised. Among the backward castes, a progressive movement led by Narayan Guru had a tremendous impact on the education of both men and women. Kerala‘s efforts towards education have been spread over more than 170 years. The Kerala model can be adopted as an inspiration or as an example of how access to education can improve female participation in it. The entire question of higher education for women has to be analysed in great depth. Even if the women are highly educated, their employment rate is comparatively low. Again, lack of awareness can be seen as an important issue that should be dealt with. There has to be a strong awareness among the government circles that no amount of globalisation of the economy or incentives for economic development will eventually give us the status of a developed country or an economic power, if nearly 200 million in the country remain illiterate.

Figure 4.7.1 Educational Qualification of Domestic workers

Educational Qualification
60 50 No of workers 40 30 20 10 0 Not literate Just literate Primary Secondary Higher Secondary no of women

Educational level

From the above figure (Figure 4.7.1) it can be seen that, there are only 5 of the workers who are illiterate. This means that, they do not know to read and write. 22 of the


workers are just literate, that is, they have not received any formal education but can read and write. A majority of 49 women workers have received primary education, 14 women have received secondary education and only 10 per cent have received higher education. Quite predominantly, domestic workers in urban agglomerations are likely to emerge from lower echelons of society characterised by lower educational attainment and social backwardness in terms of caste. In case of India, it is more often rural to urban migration that forms large chunk of domestic workers in cities. Women who are educated migrate to the cities in search of job opportunities. Even their lack of knowledge and awareness prevent them from forming a union or seeking any help from the authorities. Their low education is seen as a hindrance because they are not able to bargain and fix higher wages for them. But most of them make sure that they are able to provide education to their children. Their children study at government schools and most of them avail mid day meal scheme. There are several scholarships programs to encourage the students from low income families. The persistence of poverty is an important problem. But it doesn‘t mean that they are living below poverty line. The income that they get will only cater to their day to day needs; what they lack is a saving method. There are many occupational schemes for women with low income, but the programmes do not t reach the targeted people. Even with regard to other home-based activities, like stitching, pappt making, pickle making etc which they can indulge in would ensure them with a source of income. Although food supply through public distribution system is solace for domestic workers who suffer cumulative disadvantages, they do not get adequate provisions which they would have got had they been below-poverty-line status. All of them have ration cards and many make use of the public distribution system. Education means, overall education. The literacy rates of the women does matter, but for the working community it is more of survival. Like it is seen already, it is a problem of necessity. Therefore, according to them; getting a job, being paid and having a living is only their concern. When asked what they feel about having entered into this kind of a service job, majority of them do not wish to be this way. But considering their push factors that led to this kind of a state surely have to be dealt with. So far, as the annual increment of wages is concerned, a few domestic workers enjoy the benefit. When looking at their overall improvement in their present status, all of them feel that it has improved. For most of them the main reasons that dragged them to this kind of a job is their debt, lack of enough money and poverty.


4.8 Union Awareness of Domestic Workers

The main problems with effective implementation of the laws are the general problems posed by the informal sector. Even the accurate number of domestic workers cannot be tabulated. It may be possible through formalisation. One form of formalisation that currently exists is through placement agencies. A typical agency supplies domestic workers on a contractual basis. It is important to note that there were active initiatives to mobilize domestic workers in India, paving way for lobbying for rights such as minimum wage. In 1959, New Delhi based All India Domestic Workers Union (AIDWU) called for a one-day solidarity strike which received a thumping response from domestic workers. Interestingly, this initiative attracted legislators‘ attention; two bills –on minimum wages and the timely payment of wages, maximum working hours, weekly rest and annual leave periods, as well as the establishment of a servant‘s registry to be maintained by the local police, in deference to employers- were introduced. However, these bills were withdrawn later. Further, the development of organizing workers had a major setback when Supreme Court of India ruled that isolated workers cannot form organized labour, implying that occupational categories like domestic work is not entitled to the status of organized labour (ILO, 2010a). However, ongoing legislative initiatives such as Unorganized Sector Workers‘ Social Security Bill, which covers a broad range of security schemes for workers in the informal sector, including domestic workers, is a major break-through with a potential for desirable improvements in working and living condition of domestic workers. While pervasive deficits in working and living conditions remain scary, inducing voices of dissent against lack of need from the state to assure decent work for domestic workers, India lags behind other nations in extending rights to domestic workers. As shown in ILO (2010a), India is yet to provide core entitlements for decent work like maternity benefit. On the other hand, 26 nations, including developed and developing countries provide 12 to14 weeks of maternity leave for domestic workers. Many of them are not aware of different security schemes that are presently in existence for the protection of domestic workers. It is important to assure self-confidence and wellbeing of women workers, because they are an integral part of the social and economic development of the economy. When asked the respondents ―what are the benefits for being a union member?‖ fourfifth of them associated three benefits –law for domestic workers, ration card availability and ration availability against the ration card- with union membership . Two-fifth of them


associated health information with union membership, while one third and one-fourth of them associated awareness about children education and political awareness with union membership, respectively. Quite importantly, one-sixth of respondent sees linkage between protection from police and awareness about women empowerment and union membership. ILO (2010) shows the pivotal role unions play in bringing decency to domestic work through appropriate collective bargaining strategies and timely interventions. In metropolises like Mumbai vast majority of women who work in informal sector, in particular domestic workers are not unionized, leaving tremendous potential for trade unions and supportive organizations to come up for up-holding the quest for social justice in the context of entrenched inequalities that suppress low order occupations. With the presence of a trade union, it is always important to protect the working community. There were only one fourth of them who are members of the placement agencies, and by talking with them it is clear that the workers feel secured being a part of such agencies. For those who are not part of any union or so, do not feel any sort of job security. There were a few of them who had come to the current house as a replacement. The different unions those are active in the city of Trivandrum are SEWA, Akshaya Women Association, Aishwarya Charitable Society, Ashirvad Janasewa Ashramam and many more. These organisations fix the wages for the workers depending on the type of service they provide. They get maternity leave and other benefits from the union and organisations. In the absence of some workers, they replace them. They get the maid only when demand arises. From the figure (Figure 4.8.1) it can be seen that only 20 per cent are members of some placement agencies. When asked how the others came to know of the vacancy in each house, most of them replied, it was through their acquaintances. A few who are working at a household came to know about the vacancy from their previous employers. When asked how many are aware of the different agencies that work in and around the place, many are aware of its existence. But the reasons for not joining the agency were compound.


Figure 4.8.1 Agency Awareness

120 100 80 60 40 20 0 awareness member do you want to be a member



Many were afraid of the formalities of approaching the agency. For a few, it is the problem of contributing to the agency, a share of their income. For those people, whose income is just sufficient to keep their living going, they did not want to put in a factor so that it will reduce their disposable income. A few are afraid of their mobility and exploitation. But there is another proportion of the workers, who want to be a part of such placement agencies, and union so that they will be able to get the benefit of minimum wages, number of holidays etc. so that such awareness will be more if they work in a team (see Figure 4.8.1).

4.9 Household Assets and Liabilities

Regarding the household assets of the domestic workers, it can be seen that a majority of them own a house. And when asked about the liabilities and debt position, many of them are indebted because they ran out of money when they constructed their own house. Many were indebted from 2 to 6 lakhs, and this was also because of illnesses and housing loan. The table (Table 4.9.1) shows the different assets owned by the domestic workers.

Table 4.9.1 Household Assets of the Domestic Workers

Household Asset Own house Electricity Gas connection Continuous supply of water Toilet facilities Television Fridge Ornaments Vehicle Savings Account

Have 53 49 16 67 78 32 15 10 14 10

Don‘t Have 47 51 84 33 22 68 85 90 86 90

According to the information given by the workers, only 49 per cent have electricity at home. And with regard to the gas connection only 16 of the workers have gas connection, but even then all of them do not use it often. They have an alternative of using either firewood or kerosene for cooking purposes, and others who have electricity sometime uses the induction cookers. The availability of gas and the electricity charges are other issues faced by these people. With regard to other durable assets like television, fridge, ornaments and vehicles; not a majority of them hold it. On the other hand, with respect to liabilities; many have borrowed money from banks, that is, housing loan and educational loans. A few have borrowed from their relatives and not many of them have borrowed from their employers. In the presence of agencies, the members can take loans from the agency raised funds and can repay the amount in a given duration. Such credit systems are also very supportive concerning the domestic workers. With respect to the decision making, majority of the women make decision regarding consumption pattern and for other household needs. A majority of them do have a say on the income that they earn. Most families are run by women. Since they form the working community, they are also a part of the decision making process in their families. It is important to argue that there is a dire need of capacity building and appropriate interventions towards safeguarding fundamental rights and freedom of women domestic


workers through institutional arrangements like collectives such as trade union, which can be catalyst to transformational processes for attaining the critical mass of entitlements by honouring the dignity and autonomy of identities, context and culture in the backdrop of a cohesive democratic society. ILO (2010a), citing select cases from different countries, emphasizes the importance of institutional initiatives, combining state and society, to combat trends like violence against women, generate awareness about rights and empowerment, and occupation related skill development. The women are considered as agencies of household work. The only respective occupations open for women are as housewives and as domestic servants. The choice for women is made by the father, brother or a socialised older woman. Adam Smith doubted the capacity of women to decide. In the earlier stages, the father decides for her; then the husband makes decisions for her and at her old age the son decides for her. The women have low decision power in the family. But compared to the bourgeois, there is more decision making power with the proletarian woman. It may be because; she earns her own living by working. For a working woman, there is double burden of work. The several reasons that take effect as the push factors for a majority of women to undertake the job of domestic helper have been analysed by giving thought to their present socio economic environment.  Family insecurity is an important determinant. It is difficult to measure the insecurity, but when looked upon in terms of their income, wealth and assets these people possess, there is no security. Many do not have any savings, what they have to satisfy is a decent living at present.  Lack of social identity – how are the women workers recognised in the society. The domestic workers are also wage earners, but there is no law to protect them. There are many women who depend on this job and their demand is still on rise. Even there is lack of a social identity; they are not identified as workers.  Lack of social security- Since they are not recognised as ‗workers‘ they do not enjoy access to social security benefits that other workers do, like health insurance, maternity protection and old-age security.  Illiteracy – lack of access to education is an unsolved issue. Even then, majority of the workers (from the sample) know to read and write even if they


do not have a proper school education. But most of the workers ensure education to their children.  Rural urban divide – many workers have migrated to the urban areas in search of jobs. Better opportunities will guarantee betterment of their present situation. An important reason behind their migration was marriage and also to build up a new secured life. Increased income is another factor that draws the women workers. When the socio economic conditions of domestic workers are evaluated by throwing light on their acquisitions like owning a house, education of their children, assets and their expenditures; the assumption of whether there has been an improvement can be brought to a conclusion that, there is betterment with respect to a majority of the women workers. Most of them are capable of ensuring a healthier upbringing of their children. This improvement can be attributed to higher income of their families. The women workers rely on the returns that they receive and this will add on to their resources. Lack of educational opportunities is an important barrier for their further progress. Larger the number of girls in the household, lower the number of children sent to school; exhibiting a gender bias in education. Educating a woman signifies educating the whole family. The role of women has been greatly over seen in the last few decades. Importance of girl education is gaining importance since independence. Earlier the traditional value of girl education in India was to teach motherhood, to nurture children and to take care of the household. But later, the need and importance of girls and women‘s education in the development and growth of the economy was realised. This is one of the main reasons as to why female education is necessary in India. If a woman is educated then it will build self- confidence and will result in empowerment. If women are educated and empowered they will also be a source of income for the family. This will not only raise the standard of living of the family but also the economic condition of the country. The gender gap in education is an important determinant of inequity. There is a negative relation between female literacy and gender gap; higher the female literacy, lower is the gender gap and lower the female literacy, higher the gender gap. The low literacy rates could be explained by a range of factors such as non- availability of schools, teachers equipments and infrastructure, which affect both sexes, it is social attitudes and perceptions that attach lower performance to girl‘s education that increase the gender gap in literacy.


The next chapter further helps to put together the conclusions that can be drawn based on the analysis made in this chapter. It points out the findings and suggests the steps that can be taken to advance the area of domestic worker‘s realm and measures to give them recognition.


5.1 Conclusion Since the domestic workers belong to the unorganised sector, they are largely disorganised and hence can never speak with one voice. This lowers their bargaining power. Further because their work is confined largely within the four walls of the home and is considered a woman‘s job it tends to be undervalued. These women therefore are not considered workers and often get under represented. Due to this, very few laws and policies actually reach these workers. The government is building on a national policy for domestic workers. However, the main challenge to these laws, when formulated, will be their implementation. In a traditional description, domestic work was considered to be an unpaid work performed mainly by females in the family. In the given changing socio-economic scenario such as increasing ageing population, occupations in industries becoming more lucrative with changes ―in the organization of work and the intensification of work‖ (ILO, 2010a), prompting participation of women, especially women from middle income class families (Platzer, 2006), in the labour market , hence the so called ‗un-paid nonmarket activity‘, domestic work remains out of the purview of list of occupational options for educated persons, while raising the importance of outsourced domestic work as a separate occupation, mainly performed by migrant workers or economically weaker sections of the society. Partly, this phenomenon leads to a crucial role in making domestic work a segment of employment choice for millions of workers across the world (ILO, 2010a).

In the last few decades there has been a tremendous growth in the demand for domestic workers which has led to trafficking and other forms of exploitation of millions of Women and children of the both sexes and to meet this growing demand there has been a spurt of thousands of placement agencies providing domestic workers in metro-towns of many states. These workers are exploited in various ways besides being trafficked remains outside the purview of any legislative control. Absence of any legal protection, has led to severe exploitation of women and child domestics. This includes depriving domestic workers of their entire salary made to work on an average of more than 16 to18 hours of work per day. Absence of proper food and living/sleeping conditions forced to completely cut off any connection with their families. These workers also tend to become bonded labourers as they


often borrow cash from their employers and are unable to pay such loans. This is mostly probable in the case of live in domestics. Sexual exploitation by agent during transit, at the office of agency and also at the work place in houses of employers is also an important problem. The list of exploitation is endless and is frequently reported by the media.

5.2 Findings

With respect to the domestic workers and their awareness regarding the present demand and supply, they do not have a say in their wage determination. The study revealed that the main source of wage discrimination emanates from the employers, very similar to what the neo-classical theories highlighted. Bias brought in by the employers is based on workers‘ age, religion and caste. The demand for such women domestic workers are on the rise now. The main employers of these workers are the middle class where both the parents go to work. However, some employers also belong to the upper class.

The workers are paid on the basis of hours worked. The relation between the hours worked and their health expenditure was analysed. According to the regression output, there is a positive relation between the health expenditure of the worker and the hours worked of these workers. When the hours of work increases they tend to exhaust more. They are also poorer and are hence subject to more exploitation. These workers are prone to diseases like allergies, body pain, back pain, and headache. The lack of proper intake of nutrients and healthy food on time, leads to declining of their physical capacity to work efficiently. This in turn raises their health expenditure. It is hence a vicious cycle. They work more since they are poor and spend more on health expenditure since they get ill and remain poor. Though it is any person‘s right to possess good health and control over their bodies in terms of nutrition. This is not the case for most women. Looking at the domestics studied in this project it was seen that they do not have good health and suffer from malnutrition. Further since majority of them are in the reproductive age group it was also noticed that this angle of their physical well being is taken a toll upon as their own fertility is not in their control

The mind controls the body and health is determined to a great extent by education. As the percentage of literates increase, it increases the awareness among the people. During the primary data collection process, the decision to send children to school depended on higher


educational levels of women, expenditure on health and percentage of girl children in each family. Such that:


higher education of females in the family; the greater is the number of children in school,


(ii) higher their health expenditure; lower is the number of children sent to school,


(iii) larger number of girls in the household, lower the number of children sent to school; exhibiting a gender bias. It was found from the study that the household prefers to educate the boy children and send them abroad (Gulf countries) for jobs after completing their basic education. And comparatively, they do not force the girl children to go to school; the dropout rates are higher among girls. Even if there is a great upsurge of consciousness among girls themselves and their families on the need for girl‘s education, the families want their girl children to be married soon, because they feel that anyway they are going to another family and it is not advantageous to spend on their education.

With regard to their economic and social status of the workers, it has improved after taking up the job. Domestic work is always related to women. Ironically, the gendered division of labour and household responsibilities do not cease to stop even for high-end home-based women workers. Ester Boserup drew attention to women‘s contribution to agricultural and industrial development, and highlighted the way in which development policies and processes, from colonial times has been biased against women. The development and advancement of women is the improvement of her and her family. The role of women in shaping the economy‘s development is identified to be significant. For effective social change through social development the most powerful instrument besides social awareness and voluntary community action would be economic empowerment. This economic empowerment will basically be achieved through the instrumentality of education and employment. The employment of women will better the conditions of her family also. It will lead to an overall development of her household. As the women have taken up this job, it has contributed to an improvement in their situation in terms of their source of income, awareness, decision making and better controlling power.


Since the overwhelming majority of workers in India are in the informal sector, it is not surprising that most domestic workers are not unionised or otherwise organised. The needs of informal sector workers, women workers in particular, have been overlooked by the conservative practices of labour organisations and trade unions. Hence, they are largely left out of the purview of any social benefit covers, minimum wage legislations and leave rule legislations. The placement agencies also play an important role in the labour market even though they face problems of financial sustainability, managerial and administrative sustainability, and collaboration with the private and government infrastructure. With regard to the placement agencies, the following findings were made


The placement agency workers are more illiterate and have lesser information than non-placement agency workers.

(ii) (iii)

They are comparatively younger in age. Majority of the workers are part of some financial schemes (like chitti) within the organisation in order to support the members of the agency.


The workers of placement agencies get lesser non-monetary benefits (like clothes) compared to the non-placement agency workers.


Most of them do not receive festival holidays and the restriction on getting any type of cash is the main obstacle in improving their welfare.

5.3 Suggestions Professionalising the occupation of domestic work or ‗housekeeping service‘ will even solve the problems posed by the informal sector for both employers and employees of this work. The benefits of professionalization are as follows:

1. It will increase bargaining power of all domestic workers. In the informal sector, there was no standardisation of wages. So if one worker was getting more, it did not necessarily mean that many others were getting the same. 2. It will also help remove the problems faced by employers of domestic work in the informal sector. Standardisation will ensure that they get a quality, skilled housekeeping service.


3. Professionalising will imply that all information pertaining to domestic workers and their employers will be better documented than it is in the informal sector. This will help in effective implementation of laws legislated to protect the rights of domestic workers. 4. Professionalising of domestic work will raise the respect of the domestic worker in the eyes of their employer. Many experts have commented that any law that comes to protect the rights of domestic workers would not be implemented effectively until and unless the mindset of employers does not change. Formalising this occupation and providing it like a service will help in changing the mindset of employers. It is vital to recognise the fact that domestic work is also a ‗service‘, a care service which is multifaceted in nature, ranging from housecleaning services to taking care of children and elderly. Still domestic work is not accorded the value it ought to. There are many other care services that are professionalized, for example nursing in India. Earlier nursing was considered a menial occupation. But after the nursing service started getting professionalised, it raised both the bargaining power and respect of the nurses. Similar change can be expected in the domestic work sector if we do the same. Since communication of a domestic worker with other domestic workers was found out to be an important factor in improving her bargaining power, there should be a focus on mobilising the domestic workers as much as possible. The NGOs and other workers‘ organisations should be encouraged to do the same. Indeed, the time has come when the domestic workers should get the respect that they deserve. But the respect should not arise out of sympathy, but giving them opportunities for self-empowerment. Professionalization and formalisation will be a major step towards empowerment. This major conclusion of this small research endeavour proposes the organisation of these vital workers of the economy into a category that can be recognised at large. They could be termed ‗Home Services‘ and be classed on professional workers. Schools of training such workers in basic language and personality skills could be encouraged and this will go a long way in helping such workers become visible both in the true sense of the term ‗visible‘ and also within policy programmes for the government. It could in a way help them to get organised and demand for the recognition they deserve.



Becker, Gary S. The Economics of Discrimination. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1971. Print. Bhatt, Ela. "Sewa as a Movement." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Ruddar Datt. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 210-23. Print. Bhowmik, Sharit K. "Organising the Unoraganised Labour Through Co-operatives." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Ruddar Datt. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 224-35. Print. Borooah, Vani K. "Maternal Literacy and Child Malnutrition in India." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Manoranjan Pal, Premananda Bharati, and Bholanath Ghosh. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 141-62. Print. Brown, Henry Phelps. The Inequality of Pay. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. Print. Chakravarty, Deepita. "Trade Unions and Business Firms: Unorganised Manufacturing in West Bengal." Economic and Political Weekly XLV.NO6 (2010): 45-52. Print. Chandra, Navin. "The Organising Question and The Unorganised Labour." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Ruddar Datt. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 31-47. Print. Ghosh, Jayati. "The Plight of Domestic Workers in India." Frontline 30.2 (2013): n. pag. Web. Hamid, Areeba. "Domestic Workers: Harsh, Everyday Realities." Economic and Political Weekly 41.13 (2006): 1235-237. Web. ILO (International Labour Organisation) 2010a. "Decent Work for Domestic Workers." Report IV.99 (2010): n. pag. Web. ILO (International Labour Organisation) 2010b. "Decent Work for Domestic Workers: World of Affairs." No.68 (2010 April): n. pag. Web. Kothari, U. "Women‘s Work and Rural Transformation in India." Thesis. University of Edinburgh, 1991. Print.


Mackintosh, Maureen M. "Domestic Labour and The Household." Fit Work For Women. Ed. Sandra Burman. Canberra: Australian UP, 1979. 173-91. Print. Madhav, Roopa. "Legal Recognition of Domestic Work." Frontier 43.No17 (2010): 54-58. Web. Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. UnorganisedWorkers’ Social Security Act, 2008. New Delhi: n.p., 2008. Print. Neetha, N. "Regulating Domestic Work." Economic and Political Weekly 43.No 37 (n.d.): 26-28. Web. Peterson, Elin. "The Invisible Carers: Framing Domestic Work(ers) in Gender Equality Policies in Spain." European Journal of Women's Studies 14.N0.3 (2007): 265-80. Web. Platzer, Ellinor. "From Private Solutions to Public Responsibility and Back Again: The New Domestic Services in Sweden." Gender and History 18.No.2 (2006): 211-21. Web. Raju, Saraswati. Mapping the World of Women’s Work: Regional Patterns and Perspectives. New Delhi: ILO, 2010. Print. Ramaswamy, Uma. "Organising With a Gender Perspective." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Ruddar Datt. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 161-209. Print. Rao, V. M., D. Rajasekhar, and J. Y. Suchitra. "Unorganised Workers: Deprivation, Social Security Needs, Policy Implications." Economic and Political Weekly (2006): 1913921. Print. Sassen, Saskia. Cities in a World Economy. 3rd ed. California: Pine Forge, 2006. Print. Seth, Mira. Women and Development: The Indian Experience. New Delhi: Sage Publication, 2001. Print. Thomas, Jayan Jose. "A Woman-shaped Gap in the Indian Workforce." Editorial. The Hindu [Chennai] 9 Jan. 2013, Open Editorial sec.: 11. Print. Vrijendra. "Organising The Unorganised Workers in Small-Scale Units: Problems and Prospects." Organsing The Unorganised Workers. Ed. Ruddar Datt. New Delhi: Vikas House, 1997. 61-70. Print.


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