Home Based Workers

Central idea of the problem: India was one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote. The Indian constitution is one of the most progressive

in the world and guarantees equal rights for men and women. Despite the advances women have made in many societies, women's concerns are still given second priority almost everywhere. They continue to face discrimination and marginalization both subtle and blatant and do not share equally in the fruits of development. Their contribution is not given due credit. Women workers in unorganized sector lag behind the males in terms of level and quality of employment. Such women, when they have to perform dual of both outside employment in harsh and hostile working conditions and manage their homes, come across problems, which needs a loud hearing. These women are often illiterate, unskilled socially backward and economically weak which often hide their work participation. Poverty, lack of access to education and inadequate health facilities are their major problems. Women workers contribute substantially to the growth of Patiala. These workers continue to labour under many severe problems. These women workers working in unorganized sector are generally exploited. They are made to work for long hours and wages paid to them are not according to their work. These women workers are living below the minimum accepted standards without adequate shelter and toilet facilities. All the above things make the researcher to investigate the problems of women workers. District Patiala has a sufficient number of women workers working in unorganized sector. During their work, they face a lot of problems, they are exploited, are unaware about their rights. These things compelled the researcher to choose this problem as research issue.

Methodology: The universe of the present study is Patiala district of Punjab. Patiala has a sufficient number of women workers working in their homes (in home-based sector it would cover women doing manual work i.e, like Nalley, Praandey, Phulkari and Punjabi Jutti). To have a fairly representative sampling, 100 women workers are randomly selected from Patiala city working at different places. Suitable statistical methods like average, ratio and percentage have been used to collect the desired data from the sampled respondents. Information have been gathered by interview schedule specially designed for the purpose. Accordingly on the spot observations and discussions were also used for verifying the information collected from the women respondents.

Problems faced by Home Based Workers

  1. Lack of Collective Bargaining skills

  2. Home Based Women Workers have little to access to education and skills including the information and skills needed to sell their own products in the market.

  3. Many Home Based Workers are overworked and are exposed to dangerous chemicals and unhealthy and even toxic substances.

  4. Family members including children are also exposed to these occupational hazards, they lack occupational health and safety.

  5. The life of women working in home based work sector is very tough as they have to perform a dual role.

  6. Low and irregular incomes

  7. Invisible to policy makers and to the general public, as well as to the final consumers of goods and services they provide.

  8. Lack of social security not being covered under most of the social protection schemes.

  9. Lack of capital to make improvements in tools, technologies raw materials, storage areas and other livelihood related necessities.

  10. Lack of sufficient resources for health, safety, security and other needs that allow homebased workers to pursue their economic activities.

  11. Inadequate housing and habital conditions: work from home in poor, cramped spaces with bad lighting and ventilation.

  12. These problems help create conditions that allow the exploitation of homebased workers by middlemen and contractors. It is important to reverse these contributing factors to enable homebased workers to avoid exploitation and become empowered and take charge of their own futures.


Findings of the Study:


Socio- Economic Profile of Women Workers:

The present section gives information of all aspects about the socio-economic profile of women workers. It covers almost all the aspects related to their caste, education, religion, marital status, number of children and family income etc.


The present study reveals that majority of the working women (66%) in home based workers hails from the scheduled castes where as only 11% belongs to backward castes and 23% of the respondents belong to general category. In the scheduled castes category majority of women were Ramdasias and Valmikis.


In order to study the educational aspects of the women workers it was found that 96% of the respondents are illiterate and only one respondent among these knows how to put the signature. Further study reveals that there is a single woman who has passed the 8th standard whereas 3% of the respondents have passed the primary standard.


The study related to the religion analyses that 98% of the women workers were the Hindus and 2% were Muslims.

Marital Status:

As far as the marital status of the working women is concerned, the data reveals that 90% married and 3% of the sampled respondents are unmarried. 5% of the respondents are widows and only 2% is living separately.

Family Profile:

The study reveals that 76% of the women workers live in nuclear families and 24% of the respondents live in joint families.

Members in the Family:

The study reveals that 31% of the respondents have 5-6 members in the family, 28% of the respondents have 3-4 members in the family, 21% of the respondents have 7-8 members in the family, 10 % respondents have 9-10 members in the family, 5% members have 1-2 members in the family and only 5% of the respondents live with more than 10 members in the Family

Number of Children

The study reveals that 32% of the respondents have 3-4 children, 33% of the respondents have 1-2 children, 23 % of the respondents have 5-6 children, 6% of the respondents have 7-8 children whereas only 6% of the respondents have no children.

Number of school going children:

From the study it is observed that only 25.84% of the total school going children of sampled respondents go to school and remaining 74.16% do not go to school as they help their mothers in home based work. This clearly shows that this is the major reason for the widespread prevalence of child labour.

Economic Profile:

Type of House

The study analyses that 80% of the respondents and their families live in kacha house. They have no kitchens, bathrooms etc. as the same living place is used for all purposes, only 10% of the respondents live in pacca house.

Are you able to save money after the session is over and what are your savings?

As they live from hand to mouth ,98% of the woman workers said that they cannot save any money after the season is over. Whereas only 2% said that they can save near Rs.5000 after the season is over.

Are your basic needs fulfilled?

The analysis reveals that all the respondents(100%) were not able to meet their basic needs.

Are you under some debt?

52% of the respondents have borrowed money however only 48% were not under debt.


Family and household life:

Do you get any help from other members in house hold work?

Women workers have to work both in or out side the house. During the investigation it was found that the women workers work tirelessly at the work place as well as devote the rest of their time in cocking, washing and looking after small children and elderly people of the family who can not do their personal chores themselves. The data reveals that 66% of all the respondents do the household work themselves. 20% of the respondents take help of their husbands, 6% are helped by their daughters and 7% are assisted by their Daughter in Laws. 1% of all the respondents are helped by their Mother in laws. In this way, women workers get rare help from other members of the family. They do most of the domestic work themselves and perform a dual role

Is leisure available in the daily routine?

The data reveals that there is no vacant time in the daily routine of the women workers. They work from morning till evening. They get leisure only at the end of the season. During the working season they are too exhausted and when the working season is over they feel worried about Roti, Kapda aur Makhan. When asked about leisure time 71% of them replied in negative and only 4% of them replied in affirmative. 25% 0f the respondents said that they rarely get some leisure time. During their leisure time they play with children, go to temple, chat with neighbours or listen Radio.

Do you celebrate Festivals?

The seasonal festivals are celebrated but these poor families don’t have enough money and sources to celebrate their festivals with great pump and show.

Do the work effect your family life?

When asked if their work interferes their personal life, 92% of the respondents replied that it does interfere where as 4% of them replied in negative and 4% of them did not say anything.


Do you participate in family decisions?

As it is well known that Indian society is mail dominated, the same thing is applicable in the case of women workers where the principal decisions are made by their husbands and they are only their subordinates. 67% of the sampled women workers’ husbands take important decisions, 16% of the respondents participate with their husbands in taking decisions. Only 13% of them take decisions themselves. 2% of the respondents are dependent on their sons for decisions and 2% of them wait for decisions of their mother in laws.


Are your husbands addicted to the following?

During the inquiry, it was estimated that most of the husbands are addicts. The analyses reveals that 63% of their husbands are in indulged in drinking, 26% of their partners smoke beedes. 7% of their husbands are addicted to gambling and 5% of them are in the habit of purchasing lotteries. However 72% were addicted in taking Tambakhus.


Who generally spends the family income?

Sample women respondents data reveals that 66% of the respondent’s income is spent by husbands, 10% of them have the self right over their income, 20% of them said that it spent by both husband and wife and 4% of the income of the respondents income is spent by their sons.


Relationship with employers:

The present study reveals that only 4% of the respondents like their employers , 4% of them do not like them and surprisingly 92% of them remained neutral because their employers change from time to time as they are indulged in stone breaking and they can not work at a place regularly.


Conditions of Work, Living Conditions and Effect of Work

As the women workers are paid for what they are able to do, their are no fixed holidays for them. They know, the more they work, the more they earn. So when the respondents were asked about the leave, they said they do not take leave even if they are seriously ill. The study reveals about the health problems of the women workers , 73% of the respondents face health problems and 27% of them said that they have no health problem. They complained about body aches, bronchial diseases, eye problems(allergy), blisters, cholera and diahorrea. It is clear to not from the surroundings they live that there is always a possibility of health break down due to unhygienic living conditions. They prone to have bladder stones, uterus diseases, spinal cord pains, gastric problems and aneamia etc.

So when asked about their suggestions to improve their conditions, 100% of the respondents gave suggestions. The data reveals that 60% of them suggested proper drinking water the main suggestion was about the arrangement of about proper quarters, schools, doctor. They also suggested about proper place of washing, bathrooms, latrines etc. 13% of them suggested that the government should provide them Atta and Dal at cheap rates(as per Punjab govt. scheme).

Have you received any help from Government or any NGO?

The respondents were asked if they got any help from government or any NGO, 100% of them replied in negative. They said that the government has no efforts to improve their lot.

Labour Legislations

It is evident that these women workers are not aware of the labour legislations. During the survey 100% replied in negative, they do not like to bother about such legislations. 98% of them said that their employer does not implement all government rules made for workers welfare whereas 2% of them said that they can not say anything about it.

Knowledge Regarding Trade Unions

The analysis reveals that the home-based workers know nothing about trade unions. Most of the respondents said that these tasks and informations are limited to male members only, so they refrain themselves from such activities

In Case of Complaints

It is impossible to think that these female workers have no complaints evidently, they have to approach the authorities in case of complaints. The data reveals that 71% of the respondents take help of the Pradhan, 29% of the respondents approach to police. There is no redressel committee for them.

Are You satisfied with your lot?

The working women in stone breaking work silently to earn their living and to pull along with their families, when they were asked if they were satisfied with their lot only 12% of them said that they were contented with what they do and have whereas 88% of the respondents felt dissatisfied with their lot.

During Pregnancy

The data reveals that 99% of the respondents work in the same measure during pregnancy and only 1% replied in negtive. Further investigation reveals that 83% of the respondents are aware of the bad consequences for not taking care during the pregnancy whereas 17% of them replied that they know nothing about it. Further investigation tells that there is no change in the diet during pregnancy (99%) only 1% replied in affirmative.

Household work

During the investigations it was seen that women working in stone breaking have to work in outside the house , they were asked during survey if their husband help them in domestic works, 73% of them said they are not helped by them . Whereas 27% of them said that their husbands assist them in doing household work. 92% of them feel that they work more than men, only 8% of them said that they do not feel so.

Behaviour of men

As most of the men of women workers working in stone breaking are addicts , the study reveals that majority of the respondents express the idea that they do not quarrel with them in case of drinking or taking drugs.

Sexual Harrasment

During the study it was analyzed that the home-based workers are not sexually harassed and teased. Since they work with their family members the chances are less during the working hours. But still the respondents expressed that they feel unprotected and sometimes they are looked down upon.


Conclusion: From the close study, it can be easily estimated that the home based workers working in unorganized sector are living a life far below from satisfaction. The low earning of these women cannot meet with their daily needs. They do marry, bear children, and get old but under these phases of life, they live the same life. They live under unhygienic environment which results dangerous diseases. They work more than men as they have to play a dual role working both in and outside the home. They have no medical facilities even at the critical moment of giving but to children. A few of them are assisted by other members of family in household work otherwise they have to work solely. No doubt, there are laws to protect women and prevent exploitation but these laws (the Interstate Migrant Workmen Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, 1979, The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and Maternity Benefit Act, 1961), but these legislations are not practically and strictly implemented. It is the need of the hour that government and NGOs must come forward to improve the lot of these women. The Trade Union and Voluntary Organizations can play a vital role in making them conscious of cleanliness, health, education and above all their rights and this can be done only with the joint efforts of the government, NGOs and common people.

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