WOMEN AND LIVELIHOOD STRATEGIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR A SAFETY NET
Labour force participation of poor women is often a coping mechanism in response to shocks. Household shocks can occur for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is agricultural distress or other natural hazards in rural areas. This shifts people away from agriculture and forces them to commute daily or migrate to the city’s slums, squatters, and pavements in search of work in the informal sector. Informalisation of work is directly associated with cheap labour which adds to the vulnerability of the households. Also, the unpredictability of employment and the insecurity of household income have a considerable influence on the wife’s decision to work. The aforementioned assertion is supported by a linear regression analysis conducted on women’s workforce participation where the economic and social status of the household, the number of unemployed days per household and total household income typically contribute to a dependence on female wages for basic survival. The policy prescription would be to focus on the expansion of employment opportunities for all in their place of origin. This would improve prospects for female workers while also limiting population spill-over into urban informal sectors and the already overcrowded slums, thereby regulating the urbanisation of poverty.