Caring Citizens or Unpaid Care Work – a Case of Self Help Groups in Kerala

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Aditi DEY SARKAR, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Unpaid care work can take place in various forms, one of which is the work done by women who are a part of Self Help Groups (SHG) involved in thrift and credit activities. In this paper I examine the aspect of community labour work performed by the SHG women as an extension to the tasks done by them in the domestic sphere. The State Poverty Eradication Mission of Kerala was established in 1997 and comprised of a federation of Self Help Groups (SHGs) of women. The cornerstone of the movement was the microfinance activities conducted by members of the SHGs. Over a period of time, in addition to microfinance activities, SHG women were encouraged to perform voluntary work as service towards the community. However, it has been pointed out by feminist scholars, that these kinds of engagements led the women to being considered as a source of readily available cheap labour, as remuneration paid to them was much lesser than market standards. Also, the SHG women who participate in community volunteer work end up performing what is known as the third shift of labour, the first two being work done in the household or that done for remuneration. Despite several governmental programmes for women’s empowerment and microcredit aimed at enhancing the efficiency of women, there has been no change in the sexual division of labour either in the domestic arena or in paid work. This is because there has been no system to account for the unpaid and unaccounted labour within the home. Additionally, the programmes established by the welfare state see women’s work in the public sphere as an extension of housework which will be demonstrated in the paper through relevant case studies. The paper aims to examine this impact of unpaid care work in the lives of women.