There is a huge potential to employ women in non-traditional livelihood options, including construction workers, electricians, and motor mechanics, experts suggested on Wednesday during an International Conference on 'Making Non-Traditional Livelihoods Work for the Marginalised'. The conference, organised by Azad Foundation - experts in practice and knowledge creation for women and non-traditional livelihoods (NTL), witnessed women beneficiaries from various parts of the world and the country. Women from Africa, Nepal, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Maharashtra shared their experiences on how getting employed in NTL changed their lives. In a statement, the Foundation said that 92 per cent "of the Indian women workforce in the informal sector were not aware of better avenues and also that participation of women in the informal sector has declined from 39 per cent to 27 per cent in the last two decades".
"More than 1,600 resource poor women have been empowered by Azad Foundation and Sakha to become employable in the transport industry as chauffeurs. This also includes DTC's first woman driver and UN's first woman driver, among others," it said. The Foundation also said that there was a huge potential to employ women in non-traditional livelihood options. "The First International Conference on non-traditional livelihoods addresses issues of gender discrimination in workforce around the world and pay parity across Asia and particularly India. Practitioners are demonstrating the power and potential of enabling resource poor women to get into non-traditional livelihoods," said Meenu Vadera, Founder and Executive Director, Azad Foundation.
"In India predominantly, the situation concerning women's workforce participation is alarming with only 27 per cent women engaged in the productive workforce," Vadera said. She also said the living conditions of Indian poor women and gender division of labour at home and gendered notions of what work women can do outside their homes has restricted their ability to work outside in remunerative jobs and create a favourable environment for themselves and their families. "With this conference, we aim to appeal to Indian policymakers to consider NTLs as having a significant potential for empowering today's resource poor women to gain livelihoods with dignity", she added. Speakers, including Jayati Ghosh (Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Wenny Kusuma (UN Women Representative in Nepal), Marissa Wesley (CEO, Win-Win Strategies, US), Theo Sowa, (CEO, African Women's Development Fund), among others discussed issues about the trembling condition of resource poor women across Asia with current context in the Indian market. The three-day conference will end on Friday.
(With inputs from agencies.)