From the Editor’s Desk – Snippets of what The Blue Divide brought to you in March 2021
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All ‘people’ needed to do was to ask women.
Scrolling through The Blue Divide’s social media, I come across people writing to us, sharing with me that Tillotama Shome won Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for the movie, SIR- is love enough? I’m immediately taken back to the time when The Blue Divide had the good fortune to speak to Tillotama Shome and Rohena Gera who shared with us in their stirring interview the concept and the intent behind the film.
Hope brings me back to now, hope that perhaps, as a society, we’ve begun to appreciate people as they are, sans their profession, the caste-class shackles that govern us and the society’s rules. Hope that perhaps, we’ve begun to understand and connect with the feelings of Ratna, the maid, no, Ratna the person. And that’s where change starts, the first step to any change is understanding your people. When you start empathizing, realizing, understanding- that maids, are well, people. To really understand them, it becomes excruciatingly important to understand their everyday- their challenges, triumphs.
“When we exclude half of humanity from the production of knowledge we lose out on potentially transformative insights.” -Caroline Criado-Perez’s book, ‘Invisible Women’ highlights and exposes so beautifully that our world is centered around the needs of men. What if I were to think about the woman working in the informal economy? I’m picking a sticky, double-layered, seemingly invisible scenario- of a woman and of a woman in the informal economy.
With 97% of the workforce in India being in the informal space and a massive 96% of them being female, no surprises here that her needs are not acknowledged or even considered, much less talked about. Over the course of March, The Blue Divide has attempted to consolidate precisely that- the gender based discrimination that engulfs women in the informal economy. We highlighted wage discrimination across industries especially in the garment and construction industries, where men earn 20% and 57% higher than their women counterparts for the same amount of work. We shared how, by turning a blind eye to women’s needs, especially in the informal, unregulated sector- sexual harassment becomes the norm. Our team was aghast as we learnt that 95%+ of ‘man’ual scavengers are women– a profession that inadvertently makes us think of a man wading his way through deep trenches of human waste.
Lastly, March also made us think about conversations that we have, on an everyday basis where we subtly sweep issues of women in the informal economy under the carpet (which is eventually dusted by your house help, if I may). Amidst coughs that are stirred up by the dust, and a new form of the virus, perhaps it makes sense to look around and really appreciate the Ratna Didi dusting that carpet, or the Didi picking the waste.