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  • 1.5 million women lost their jobs post lockdowns last year: SOIL Report 2021

    Published on December 16, 2021

    ~ 71% of rural women workers lost their jobs compared to 59% men ~

    ~ Unemployment rate was highest among Indian youth ~

    New Delhi : The State of India’s Livelihoods (SOIL) Report 2021 released at the 12th Livelihoods India Summit observed that out of the 6.3 million jobs lost last year, women accounted for 1.5 million lost jobs (23%). The report was released by Dr. G R Chintala, Chairman, NABARD at the summit hosted in New Delhi by Access Development Services, a national livelihoods support organisation. Neel Kamal Darbari, Managing Director, Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) recognized individuals & institutions at the FPO Awards 2021 winners of the Sitaram Rao Livelihoods India Case Study Competition, which is a mechanism instituted by ACCESS to collate innovations and best practices from the field.

    The SOIL report 2021 that draws attention to the varying effects of pandemic on lives and livelihoods of different sections of the population in very different ways and to a varying extent. It observed that although India’s unemployment rate declined to 8.3% as of September 2021 compared to 10.3% in the same period last year, the unemployment rate was highest among the youth. At 32% as of August 2021 and if observed from different age segments of 15–19, 20–24 and 25–29 years, the unemployment rate stood at 67.21%, 45.28% and 13.24% respectively. The report also highlighted that woman workers in the informal sector were far worse off as 71% of rural women lost their jobs post lockdown compared to 59% of men.

    In terms of the Labour Force participation rate (LF PR), the report stated that there is a big divide between men and women. As of August 2021, almost one-third of men and 9 out of ten women in India are not participating in the workforce. The divide was far larger in urban areas with 67% of men and 9.4% of women participating in the workforce compared to 68% of men and 10.6% of women in rural areas. The report also highlighted some major challenges to employment in India as well as economic growth.

    • Skill development and employment for future workforce: Skill development and learning new skills will be critical to stay employed.

    This challenge has three key dimensions:

    (a) knowledge-oriented rather than skill-oriented education

    (b) informal rather than formal sector-led job creation

    (c) regional disparity in employment opportunities

    • Socio-economic inclusion of rural India: While rural aspirations have begun converging with the rest of India, efforts are required to remove significant barriers preventing full socio-economic inclusion of rural India in the country’s growth story. However, to fulfil their aspirations, three critical ‘access’ barriers of physical connectivity, digital connectivity and financial inclusion need to be prioritized.

    Sharing his insights on the report, Dr G R Chintala, Chairman, NABARD said, “Perhaps, the most disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the forced return of migrants to their native states. The obvious reason for return migration is lack of earnings and inadequate savings to tide over the lockdown period. We need to build a development paradigm which ensures that additional and sustainable livelihoods are created in rural areas.

    In many parts of the country, FPOs stepped in successfully creating supply chains in the COVID scenario. A similar case exists in the case of handlooms & handicrafts. The entire logistics chain has been set in motion, but it currently lacks depth and width. The canvas is huge, and there are immense possibilities to collaborate with other stakeholders in this task. We intend seizing this opportunity to play an important role in ensuring that agriculture and rural development will emerge as powerhouses in the years to come.”

    Speaking at the Livelihoods India Summit 2021, Vipin Sharma, CEO, ACCESS Development Services said, “ACCESS has been working incessantly for the last 16 years to promote innovative solutions for sustainable livelihoods of the most disadvantaged communities. The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns and travel restrictions have had a direct and adverse impact on several sectors of livelihoods. In addition to the pandemic the various trial and error policies implemented by governments at different levels to combat it, has had an uneven impact on different sections of the population and exposed some of the inherent vulnerabilities relating to the livelihoods of different population groups. While we continue to delve deeper into the various dimensions of livelihoods in this year’s edition of the Summit and the State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) report, in terms of statistics, sectors, policies and practices, it is important that we keep in the background the human benefit and cost that arises out of sustainable livelihood generation and loss.”

    The summit is a national conference that delves into multitude of challenges that the poor face in strengthening their livelihoods. Through dialogues, discussions and debates, it continues to proffer valuable recommendations. Hosting almost 100 eminent thought leaders and sector specialists across 15 sessions, the panelists and speakers are Dr. G R Chintala, Chairman, NABARD; Arun Maira, Former Member, Planning Commission of India; Mahesh Vyas, Managing Director and CEO, Centre for Monitoring India Economy, Dr. R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF and Ananya Birla, Chairperson and Director, Svatantra Microfin among others.

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