Slipping through the cracks
Millennium Post Delhi|June 28, 2020
Slipping through the cracks
The ongoing pandemic and the resultant lockdown have aggravated the already precarious circumstances under which women work in India’s informal sector, necessitating drastic policy interventions; write Sagari Sahu & Pooja Singh
Sagari Sahu & Pooja Singh

Manipur — with a mosaic of ancient traditions and rich cultural patterns and unique industry of only women weavers — has been extensively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet, the COVID-19 impact on the informal sector comprising women in weaving, garland-making, domestic work or self-help group in the state has largely gone unrecognised.

Weaving is the backbone of rural women economy in Manipur. To know weaving is a primary qualification in women households. At least 84 per cent of handloom worker households in the State live in rural areas; nearly 16 per cent in urban areas. The handloom sector in the state is predominantly a rural activity led by women.

Manipur is famous for its special fabrics such as Pheingao, Raivat Kachon, Mareipan, Changkhom, Haopheisoi (sarong). Weaving here empowers women. But with supply chains and production of goods badly affected due to the pandemic, the women have been praying for a secure future.

Weaving has not been able to incorporate itself into the formal sector, prompting women to move towards an informal sector network. As a result, they have lost their jobs and with it, their savings.

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June 28, 2020