In 2019, ActionAid Association became part of the Global Partnership Network (GPN), an international collaboration of higher education institutions and civil society groups for research, teaching and workshops around Sustainable Development Goal #17: Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. As part of the GPN, we recently studied gender-based violence against informal women workers. We aimed to bring new focus to the extensive engagement with workers in the informal sector across the country on the issues of their recognition, decent wages, social security and any form of violence at their workplace. We conducted the fieldwork for the study with women home-based workers in Delhi, domestic workers in Kolkata, West Bengal and women agricultural workers in Bihar.
After a series of state-level consultations held in Patna, Kolkata and Delhi, with relevant stakeholders as part of the study, to gather insights on gender-based violence and to find ways to tackle it at the community and institutional levels, on December 29, 2022, we organised a national consultation at Delhi. The meeting began with sharing of findings of the study amongst the diverse pool of attendees. There was representation from various community-based organisations working with street vendors, construction site workers, domestic workers, and other informal sector workers, besides the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), journalists, activists and leading women’s rights organisations. The objective was to discuss the various forms of violence women face in the informal sector and find mechanisms to tackle the same.
Swapna from Paschimbango Griho Paricharika Samity (PGPS), a domestic workers’ collective in West Bengal, stated that the violence that domestic workers face is deeply rooted in structural inequalities and intrinsically tied to their identity as domestic workers. Kanchan, a street vendor from Delhi, talked about cases of violence that women street vendors routinely face, including harassment from male street vendors and the authorities who remove them arbitrarily and even break their carts.
Following in-depth deliberations, the gathering unanimously agreed that there is a strong need for spreading awareness on complaint mechanisms and ensuring last-mile connectivity of complaint mechanisms to make them more accessible to the most marginalised women workers of the informal sector. Additionally, ensuring that women in this sector are identified, duly registered with their employers, unionised, and given a voice and platform is imperative. Read more here
. The consultation ended with the possibility of forming a feminist solidarity network to work on the issue of gender-based violence and to ensure improved access to justice and the creation of safe workspaces for women workers in the informal sector.