Rebekah is a research scholar and is currently pursuing her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research encompasses tribal identities, women and their role in the identity-making process.
She is interested in exploring the question of women’s agency and autonomy in ethno-nationalist movements of Northeast India. Apart from academics, she likes to engage in searching for stories on the grassroots level on issues related to marginality in nation-making, with a focus on Bodo women in Assam.
Converging Space of Paid and Unpaid Labour
I came across this sight in a border village called Saralpara, which runs along the Indo-Bhutan border, situated in Kokrajhar district in the state of Assam. The picture explores the theme of ‘invisible labour of women’, where the boundaries between home and the workspace is indistinguishable. The disproportionate labour burden that women shoulder between unpaid care work and income-generating work is one of the strong pillars of patriarchy, which consistently keeps women from realising their rights and equality. Caring for a child is one of the most common unpaid work undertaken by women as the gendered roles are deeply embedded in familial settings.
While the pandemic has forced people to stay at home and the lockdown has made economic activities difficult, a woman tries to run her tea shop with her child sleeping in a cradle hung from the ceiling in a remote village where no cases of coronavirus have been detected yet.
As she tries to meet her daily earnings in times of lockdown, it converges with her domestic unpaid care work of nurturing her child. The enduring unpaid care work converging with her workspace reflects the integral relationship of a woman and her labour; trying to make room for her gendered role and economic sustainability at once.
This leads to a ‘double burden’ where a woman’s responsibilities increase but income does not.
It also shows the class nature of care, where many upper-class women have the option of ‘additional’ care rendered by helpers and leave their child behind at home, whereas women in margins rendered by socio-economic conditionality can’t afford assistance or leave them behind at home. Pandemic or no pandemic, the skewed labour division continues and the disproportionate responsibilities that women shoulder continues