Special Correspondent

This is in addition to domestic duties

NEW DELHI: Forty per cent of rural women and 50 per cent of their urban counterparts above the age of five are engaged in domestic work in India. Thirty-seven per cent of the rural and 18 per cent of the urban women usually carry out some economic activity in addition to their principal and subsidiary status in a household.

This is a major finding of the National Sample Survey report on "Participation of women in specified activities along with domestic duties, 2004-05" based on the survey of Employment and Unemployment carried out in the 61st round (July 2004-June 2005) under the Ministry of Statistics and Implementation.

A sizable proportion of women, in addition to their domestic duties, also engage themselves in many other economically productive activities, the survey points out. Although the information was collected for all engaged in domestic duties according to the usual principal status, the proportion of persons engaged in domestic duties was found to be 37.9 per cent among women but only 0.4 per cent among men at the all-India level.

However, many women groups are of the opinion that the low work participation rate (WPR) for women may be partly due to the fact that investigators might not be able to enquire in detail about the economic activities performed by the women in addition to their domestic duties.

Of the women of five years and above classified as usually engaged in domestic duties in terms of their principal and subsidiary statuses, about 54 per cent in rural areas and 10 per cent in urban areas pursued one or more of the activities relating to agricultural production including free collection of agricultural products and processing of primary products produced by the households, for households' consumption.

They constituted 16.4 and 4.6 per cent of women of five years and above in rural and urban areas, respectively at the national level.

All States and Union Territories were covered under the survey spread over 7,999 villages and 4,602 urban blocks covering 79,306 households in the rural areas and 45,374 households in the urban areas. The number of females engaged in domestic duties covered in the sample in the survey was 1,13,436 (70,118 in rural areas and 43,318 in urban areas).

Of the women of age 15 years and above usually engaged in domestic duties, 33 per cent in rural India and 27 per cent in urban India had reported availability for `work' on the household premises.

Of them, about 72 per cent in rural areas and 68 per cent in urban areas preferred only `part-time' work on a regular basis, while the percentages of such women preferring regular `full-time' work were 23 and 28 in rural and urban India, respectively.