COVID-19 in India: an opportunity for women?

COVID-19 in India: an opportunity for women?

Is the disruption caused by the pandemic an opportunity for building new and better models of employment for women in tourism?

In a recent article, Equations, a research, policy and advocacy organisation working on tourism and development issues in India, analyses the problems currently faced by women working in India’s tourism sector and suggests ways in which these could be overcome through the adoption of a more gendered lens. We share a summary below.

Throughout India, women’s work tends to be invisible and concentrated in the under-paid and unorganised, informal sector. In the tourism sector, a high proportion work as vendors and artisans or are employed as maids or kitchen helps in hotels and homestays. These jobs are for the most part highly dependent on tourist footfall. Consequently, the decline of tourism has left many women without jobs and income. Moreover, because of the unregulated nature of such employment, women are least likely to be able to get their jobs back once tourism picks up again.

On 23rd March, the Indian Government decreed that employers should continue paying wages to their employees and announced measures to cover this cost, but by that time, it was too late as most women had already lost their jobs. Whilst it is clear that women have been worst affected in terms of job losses, the government is not monitoring the gender impact of the situation within the tourism sector. Relief measures established are also lacking in a gender lens: the majority female migrant workforce, most of whom work on a seasonal basis, are not covered by any of the schemes introduced by the government to provide some assistance to those affected by COVID 19.

According to Equations, it is essential that women be included in the planning of post-COVID 19 measures. A model strategy, proposed by the organisation, is the establishment of Federations of women providers of specific services within the tourism sector – such as those working in organic farming, fishing, husbandry, community kitchens, kitchen gardens, craftswomen and women guides. Such federations could serve as models for start-ups and business chains that allow for more participation of women in the tourism sector, not only in India, but in many other countries all over the world.

Read the full article here, on the Equations website.

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