FJA Shortlist 2021

Category: Contribution to Civil Rights

Author: Shalini Singh (India)

Series: Women@Work:

From Delhi, A View Of Women's Work Hit By The Pandemic;

Women Run Fewer Than 13% Of India's Small Businesses. Here's Why;

Lack Of Mentoring, Networking Hold Back Women Entrepreneurs;

'I Can't Earn More Than Rs 125 A Day No Matter How Hard I Work'.

The original publications are available via the following links:

From Delhi, A View Of Women's Work Hit By The Pandemic

IndiaSpend - 18 January 2021

Those in formal jobs faced salary cuts, while those in informal jobs lost several months' income and were forced to cut down on basics such as food and education for their children.

New Delhi: Even the value of scrap has gone down in these times. And scrap is more difficult to find these days too. Ask 29-year-old Lutfun Nisha, a rag-picker in north-west Delhi, where about a fifth of the national capital's population resides. "If I do not find garbage, I cannot sell anything to the scrap dealer. Before the lockdown, I used to sell it for Rs 35-40 per kg. Now, the rate has dropped to Rs 10 per kg," said Nisha. She lives with her parents and an eight-year-old son in a 90-square-foot hutment where the rent has doubled--from Rs 150 to Rs 300 a month since the pandemic started. "We could barely eat this year," she told IndiaSpend over the phone from her Delhi dwellings in early December 2020.

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Women Run Fewer Than 13% Of India's Small Businesses. Here's Why

IndiaSpend - 27 February 2021

Women running their own businesses face multiple difficulties--the biggest of these is gender bias in access to finance. Their loan applications are more likely to be delayed or rejected, studies show. Gender bias, restrictions on mobility and social norms are the other hindrances.

New Delhi: Software entrepreneur Niyati Chander, 30, ran into gender bias fairly early in her career. A Bengaluru-based management graduate, she had set up a software enterprise, an MSME, with eight employees in June 2020. "I wanted to be in control of where I'm going in life," she said.

From investors and government officials to real-estate agents and even friends and former colleagues, Chander found that she was not being taken seriously. "People assume you don't know what you want. When we were looking for office space, the emails from the landlord would go to my male co-founder though it was made clear that I am the main founder--it was assumed that the final call would be his," she said, "The networking platforms are dominated by men and there are none for start-ups run by women. Your skills, education, age are analysed more closely [than for men]."

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Lack Of Mentoring, Networking Hold Back Women Entrepreneurs

IndiaSpend - 1 March 2021

With business networks dominated by men, India's women entrepreneurs find themselves isolated and unsupported. Mentorship, mutual support groups, and training in managerial and technical skills can help women entrepreneurs come into their own.

New Delhi: When Mumbai fashion designer Ashwini Mhetre, 31, approached banks for loans to set up a business last February, the responses were riddled with gender clichés: "You're 30, what if you decide to give it up and get married?" and "If you get married, will you put the same effort as you would as a single person?"

Kavneet Sahni, 40, faced similar scepticism when she was setting up her food consultancy in Gurugram eight years ago. She was faced with questions such as 'Why not have more men in her team? Or 'How would you handle business if you have children?'

Sanam Devi, 40, runs a tiny general store, selling biscuits, salt, flour, rice and so on in Indira Kalyan Vihar, a low-income neighbourhood in south Delhi. "If people from my village saw my wife working, they would disapprove. But we don't have a choice, we have to live," said her husband Randhir Singh, 50, who suffers from impaired mobility.

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'I Can't Earn More Than Rs 125 A Day No Matter How Hard I Work'

IndiaSpend - 30 March 2021

India's 96 million informal workers fight gender bias and pay gaps. Our story examines the situation in the textiles and garments sector, among India's oldest, where many women workers put in over 12 hours a day, six days a week, but do not have the negotiating power to demand better wages or working conditions.

New Delhi: Over the last two decades, Rehana*, 42, has been working on improving her tailoring skills, learning to cut, sew, and recently, design and stitch salwar suits for boutiques and individual customers. But even though she often works 12-hour days, she has little income security or any kind of safety net for herself and her family of eight.

Rehana, who is her family's primary breadwinner and caregiver, lives in a hovel in Khajuri Khas, a low-income neighbourhood in north-east Delhi that witnessed riots last year. Many of those who live in the area work in the informal sector, especially garment units, we found. Rehana's husband has partial paralysis, her father-in-law is ageing, and her two sons hold small, casual jobs. The lockdown and the ensuing downturn have left the family in distress and Rehana has had to take her youngest child out of school because the fee, Rs 2,500, has become unaffordable.

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