Share of women in unincorporated sector highest in the south

Gender disparity can be seen among working-owners (more men) and unpaid family workers (more women)

Updated - July 10, 2024 09:28 am IST

Published - July 10, 2024 08:30 am IST

Kudumbashree workers making national flag at a tailoring unit in Kalamassery near Kochi on Saturday

Kudumbashree workers making national flag at a tailoring unit in Kalamassery near Kochi on Saturday | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The share of women owners and workers in unincorporated enterprises was relatively high in the southern States, according to the recently released Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector 2022-23. To an extent, in some eastern States too, the share of women in the sector was high; it remained low in the western, northern, and central States.

The unincorporated sector includes jobs that require little to no capital and skills, such as street vending, as well as work that involves considerable investment and expertise, such as tailoring and car repair. The shop may be operated by an individual or a self-employed entrepreneur who may enlist unpaid family members or employ paid workers. They may work from a fixed location or in homes, small shops, and workshops. The survey divides such workers into three broad sectors: manufacturing, trade, and other services and does not include agricultural establishments. The sector excludes establishments registered under the Companies Act and covered under the Annual Survey of Industries, and public sector/government companies.

The chart shows the share of women employed across sectors in various positions such as unpaid family members, informal/formal hired workers, and working-owners in unincorporated enterprises. A circle corresponds to a State. The regions are differentiated by colours. Smaller States were not considered.

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Section 1A of the chart depicts the share of women working across all sectors of unincorporated enterprises, including all the classes of workers put together. All the southern States are positioned towards the right of the chart. This means that the share of women in the workforce was relatively high. Section 1A shows that Telangana leads the country, with women constituting 41% of the workforce, which includes working-owners and formal/informal workers and unpaid family members, across all sectors in the State’s unincorporated enterprises. The share in other southern States crossed 30%, closely followed by West Bengal and Odisha at 30%. Sections 1B and 1C depict the same data for the manufacturing and trade sectors separately.

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Section 5A depicts the share of women among worker-owners across sectors. Here, too, southern States stand out. This means that in the south, women not only formed a higher share of the overall workforce (including owners), but they also constituted a relatively higher share among worker-owners. West Bengal is the only other State outside south India that featured high on this list.

There was a relatively high share of women in unincorporated enterprises in south India even when the data were sliced and diced across various other types of workers. However, in general, the share of women among unpaid family workers in unincorporated enterprises was much higher than other job-types in every State. Even in Telangana, while 43% was the share of women across worker-owners (Section 5A), 52% among formal hired workers (4A), and 26% among informal hired workers, (3A), it was 59% among unpaid family workers (2A).

Even in States where women did not play a major role in unincorporated enterprises in hired/ownership roles, their share among unpaid family workers was higher. This explains why the circles in Section 2 appear pushed to the right, while in other job types, they are crowded towards the left.

This means women across India play a relatively silent, yet major role in unincorporated sectors. In many cases, they take no payment and have little say in how the enterprise is run.

Source: Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector 2022-23

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