The Chennai Corporation has sidelined women in its mosquito control operations in the city.

The civic body has banned private contractors from hiring women for mosquito control in the city.  

The Corporation already has 1,700 permanent malaria workers – all men. To combat the rise in mosquito density, it has decided to hire over 2,000 additional workers on contract basis.

Contract malaria workers will handle only environment-friendly chemicals, and will be deployed in the 15 zones of the Corporation to carry out mosquito control operations — they will visit households to create awareness, rid houses of breeding sources, fog the neighbourhoods and spray chemicals in sumps and overhead tanks. They will get monthly wages ranging from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 9,000. 

Each zone has been asked to hire at least 150 temporary workers for a year, and the hiring is already on in zones such as Royapuram, Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar and Adyar.

But the civic body has decided not to use the services of women as they ‘cannot carry the fogging machines or climb flights of steps to overhead tanks.’

The contractual terms clearly stipulate that ‘only men should carry out the work’ of malaria workers.

A number of members of women’s self-help groups in the city, however, said the Corporation was denying them an opportunity to work and earn a livelihood.

“At least four members in our group are ready to take up the job of a malaria worker. There are many such women in other self-help groups willing to carry out mosquito-control operations,” said S. Vimala, a member of Sri Vishnu Durgai Self-Help Group.

“A few years ago, the Corporation gave us fogging machines. Then, officials took the equipment away from us. They said women cannot do such work,” she said.

Former councillor Devi said women can successfully carry out mosquito control operations. “The Corporation was using the services of the women for conservancy operations. Women are more successful in carrying out conservancy operations. So, they should also be permitted to work as malaria workers,” said Ms. Devi.