In 2016, Kerala government undertook a move to eradicate poverty and won a considerable amount of applause for it. Around 90 women had been giving jobs as bus conductors under the state government’s Kudumbashree scheme that aimed to eradicate poverty. Now, several women among those hired have quit their jobs, because how could any woman in India carry forward her career without facing a massive wage gap.
Government statistics have of course maintained that 26 out of 90 still remain employed. However one of the employees who quit has gone on record to confirm that apart from one employee everybody else has quit. Another employee, on the condition of anonymity, has told a media house that the wage gap is massive enough to ensure that the women get paid half the amount that the male conductors are. The men receive 800 to 900 bucks a day, while the women have to make do with a mere 500.
Now, before anyone raises a finger at the women’s capability and how this is just another ‘feministic gimmick”, it’s noteworthy that the women out in 12 hours of work which is the same as the male conductors.
The Kerala State Private Bus Operators’ Federation refused to admit that wage gap was the reason behind the mass resignation and cited ínconvenient working hours and lack of facilities at bus stops instead. It is however beyond comprehension why working hours would be such that they cause inconvenience to the women and how it’s alright that facilities women need are not taken care of.
India is not new to how workplaces are not conducive to the presence of women. Harassment, lack of basic facilities for women, wage gaps and growth constraints especially after maternity are issues women have repeatedly cited behind their decision to quit a job or sometimes even an industry. This particular incident only goes on to show us how government schemes too are prone to such issues making it difficult for women to survive jobs under such schemes.
It’s difficult to make up our mind about decide whether to blame the scheme or those implementing it for such loopholes. Wage gap, however, remains a problem not just in India but worldwide and nobody seems to have an answer to why such discrimination should even exist in the first place.