Accommodation for working women is hard to come by in Kozhikode district
Even as women’s security is a growing concern, finding a safe roof over their heads is a hard-to-get luxury for working women.
This is when the State government has ordered the constitution of Women’s Welfare Committees in all districts to conduct an “actual gap analysis by doing need assessment” for hostels and map the existing hostel facilities for working women.
The committees have to help the government identify public land or locations fit for the establishment of new hostels.
The committees, headed by the District Collector or municipal commissioner, should further assist the State by recommending proposals, sending recommendations for release of grants, and undertaking periodic monitoring of the functioning of hostels in their respective districts.
The government order (GO) was issued by the Social Justice Department on December 4.
No meeting yet
District Social Justice Officer Abdul Samad, who is also a panel member, however said on Monday that the committee here was yet to meet.
The district authorities have so far not budged even as working women in the city increasingly fall prey to cut-throat landlords charging steep rents, hire apartments for group stay arrangements or, if lucky, get a dormitory facility in private hostels.
The only government-run facility in the city is a run-down maze for non-gazetted officers at Vellimadukunnu in the city Corporation limits. “The building is a wreck, a haven for snakes, full of leaks, and unhygienic,” says Smitha K., a government employee at the Civil Station.
The situation is worse in the rural parts of the district.
Here, there is only one working women’s hostel run by the district panchayat in Perambra block. The hostel accommodates up to 30 people.
Those unable to get admission risk staying in private homes as paying guests or, again, rent houses in groups.
These women include government teachers, Integrated Child Development Services staff members, engineers, and public health officials who are on transfer from the southern parts of the State.
“It is unsafe for them to stay in private houses or rent houses all by themselves. In most of these areas, houses are few and far between, transportation is poor, and these are women who have no local knowledge,” K.P. Sheeba, chairperson of the district panchayat education committee, said.
Ms. Sheeba said though the hostel in her native Perambra had all the facilities, there was a long waiting list of applicants and it was difficult to accommodate all.
“There is a warden, and two women share a room. But with limited infrastructure, we are compelled to refuse many of the applications,” she said.
Recently, women staff members of the B.Ed College in remote Chakkittapara grama panchayat had demanded a women’s hostel for students and teachers near their college.
“We have finalised a proposal to build a hostel for 100 people for the college, which has students and teachers from other parts of the State,” Ms. Sheeba said.
“We have come here to work. If our stay is not safe, it will naturally reflect in our work too,” a government employee from Kannur district said.