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Gender-Specific Barriers to Social Protection for Home-Based Women Beedi Workers in India


· Priya Singh Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (Bremen, Germany)


07/27 | 10:00-10:20 UTC+2/CEST


In India, out of the total women employment in the labour market, 95.1 % works in the informal economy. After handloom, it is beedi industry which employs majority of women as homeworkers. The home-based labour works outside the regulative control of the state and receives low or no work-related social benefits. Class, caste, religion and ethnicity are factors regulating the wellbeing of informal workers and play a decisive role in effectively being able to get the right to work and to access social protection. These inequalities are intensified when they intersect with the factor of gender, especially when women pursue home-based work. This paper examines how do the home-based women beedi workers deal with their health security needs? By dealing I focus on utilisation of employer provided or state provided benefits or on their own? This study employed qualitative approach through in-depth interview and group discussion with the female beedi workers. The study findings highlight that women workers do not receive any benefits from the employer as the employers do not provide identification card to the female beedi worker making them devoid of the work-related social security. Home-based workers face structural barriers to access social protection programs. Their lack of awareness makes them vulnerable to exploitation by the stakeholders engaged in the public provision schemes. Thus, to deal with their needs the workers take loans from someone in their social network which potentially leads to a vicious cycle of income deficiencies and the debt trap for the whole family. This paper points out the barriers women workers face while accessing the programs.