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A Blurred Mapping of Internal Female Migration

  • Published
    31st Jan, 2024

Context:

Women and their participation in workforce remains an area on which not enough impetus has been paid. The underreported issue of internal female migration in India and the challenges faced by migrant women in the labor force demand attention. The existing surveys are inadequate in capturing the true extent of the problem.

  1. Inaccuracy in Surveys and Apathy:

   -Inadequate Surveys:  The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) estimates internal migration in India at 27% from June 2020 to 2021, with normative literature usually portraying it as male-dominated.

   -Exclusion in Stats: Despite comprising a significant share of the migrant pool, women's migration receives little attention, raising concerns given the declining Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR). National surveys, such as PLFS, provide an inaccurate picture by focusing on primary reasons for migration, with marriage being the predominant factor for women.

   -Lack of voice: Women migrants are not considered a significant vote bank, resulting in political neglect and a lack of targeted policies addressing their unique needs. Existing policies, such as One Nation One ration card, e-Shram, and affordable rental housing complexes, primarily cater to the male migrant population, neglecting the distinct challenges faced by women.

  1. Underreported Employment Status:

   - Employment status: PLFS data suggests that around three-quarters of migrant women are unemployed, with 14% in self and wage-employed jobs and 12% in casual labor.

   -lack of Definition: Definitional issues and women's beliefs contribute to underreporting, as many engage in casual employment, not captured by traditional definitions.

   -Away from reality: Women often choose forms of employment that align with domestic duties, leading to the misclassification of their employment status.

  1. Barriers to Formal Labor Force Entry:

   - Education: Limited human and social capital, as evidenced by 85% of migrant women having less than 10 years of education, poses significant barriers to their entry into the formal labor force.

   - Networking: Lack of social networks after migration further hinders employment chances, especially when coupled with lower education levels.

  - Post-Pandemic Challenges: Challenges faced by women after the COVID-19-induced lockdown, where 55% never returned to their places of employment, and those who did faced a substantial        reduction in income.

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