Computerization Brings Jobs for Women in Rural India
Women in rural India have been traditionally engaged in agricultural activities. There has been little change in the employment conditions for rural women over the last six decades. However, this situation is beginning to change with the rapid expansion of computerization in India, which is also extending its reach to rural interiors of the country.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) job opportunities have grown exponentially in India in recent years. This gigantic growth is now reaching out to the most conservative parts of rural India as well. The “Source for Change” BPO unit in rural Rajasthan is a classic case in point. Rajasthan is a highly conservative state where rural women have remained backward for centuries. But the “Source for Change” BPO, a socio-economic initiative launched by the Piramal Foundation, presents a different picture of hope, with rows of rural women sitting behind computers and running the BPO centre with great efficiency. (1)
Another classic example of the computer based job revolution for women is from Tamil Nadu’s Salem district. The NextWealth Entrepreneurs BPO centre has employed a number of rural women in Mallasamudram, which is 27 km from Salem. Daughters and wives of farmers who have been able to acquire higher education in science, arts or languages are finding employment opportunities at such centres. An increasing number of BPOs are following this new trend of employing qualified rural women and setting up exclusive rural BPO centres that operate at low overheads and deliver world class efficiency and performance for the business. (2)
Rural BPOs have successfully communicated the message that women can supplement family’s primary income. This is encouraging more and more peasant families to allow their qualified women folk to find employment at these centres. Very large BPO operators such as Mphasis and the Birla Minacs group are also setting up major BPO centres in tier III and tier IV towns that are providing employment to rural women. Looking at the increasing job potential due to computerization in rural India, a number of rural job portals have also emerged in recent years to create a bridge between candidates and job opportunities. www.rozgarduniya.com, www.chaakri.in and www.ruralnaukri.com are some of the prominent job portals focusing at rural job opportunities. (3)
There are several other innovative endeavors that are taking help of computerization to expand the job horizons for rural women. One of the leading innovators is an organization called Change Initiatives that is trying to build a framework of information sharing and content creation to help in the economic empowerment of rural women. In collaboration with UNESCO, this organization hopes to create a strong network of rural women with the voice and capacity to participate fully in society both economically and socially. (4)
These are only the earliest rumblings of change in favour of rural women’s employment prospects due to the increasing power of the computers and the Internet. As the corporate world realizes the competitive potential running their back office operations out of rural regions, the change is bound to accelerate its pace. Support from the government policies and NGO networks will also help to consolidate this change and build an economically empowered future for the Indian rural women.
- Vikas Vij (views expressed in the article are that of the author)