Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 13: India’s migrant women force make hardly one-third of the country’s people moving abroad on jobs even as unfavourable domestic conditions are further bringing down the figure, an international meet noted today.
In a suggestion to improve the situation, speakers at the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-2015) urged for stringent laws against harassment of migrant labourers, specifically women, in both the nations that send and receive them.
Hyderabad-based social worker Dr Lissy Joseph noted that women comprise around 29 per cent of Indian migrants, and attributed the low number to certain socio-economic and cultural factors prevailing in the nation.
“Even though India has law for protecting the migrants, there are many inadequacies which should be addressed,” said the speaker, who works with the National Domestic Workers Movement in the Telangana capital.
“The migrant women force is more into health care and domestic work sector particularly in the Middle East region,” she pointed out in her presentation on ‘Women and overseas migration’ during the session named ‘Gender and Collective Bargaining with a Focus on Old and New Forms of Labour Mobilizations’ on the second day of the three-day meet.
The speaker, whose organisation has been involved with migrant domestic workers for three decades, also pointed out certain matters attracted the women to migrate, saying these “pull factors” included employment opportunity, education and housing facilities. Juxtaposing them in a complementary way are “push factors” such as unemployment, indebtedness and social outcaste status in their native land.
A state-wise break-up showed Uttar Pradesh ranking first in labour migration of Indians to abroad, pushing Kerala and Tamil Nadu to the second and third positions respectively. As for the country that tops when it comes to receiving Indian migrant labourers, it is Saudi Arabia, she added, quoting data.
The session progressed with academician-musician Dr Sumangala Damodaran, associate professor at Ambedkar University Delhi, speaking about the collective bargaining by pointing out examples from the successful Munnar protest of ‘Penkal Otrumai’ in Kerala’s tea gardens and similar movements in developing nations.
Prof Naila Kabeer of London School of Economics highlighted the ‘anti sweatshop movement’ which campaigned to improve the conditions of the labourers characterised with low wages and poor working conditions in United States, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The Gender Park, under the Department of Social Justice, aims to create an environment of equal opportunities for all gender identities. Ventures such as She Taxi and training session under the Gender Park were devised to help build an attitude of entrepreneurship in women.
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