Female Marginalisation in the Informal Economy of Punjab


Female marginalisation is a part of gender marginalisation. It is the presence of strong gender discrimation, persecution and subjection in all societies. The focus of this article is the informal economy of Punjab, which is the part of the economy that is not covered by any rules and regulations. The informal economy is also not monitored by the government, causing the rights of the informal workers to be taken away. Punjab is a state in northern India with a population of 30,451,858 people and its economy is around 80-90% informal. The cause of the female marginalisation in Punjab is the gender disparity, gender inequality, confining of females, and violence against women. Gender disparity is known to be a cause because there is a large difference in the population of men and women in Punjab.  As the age increases, the number of females decreases. This demonstrates that women do not receive proper health care and are even killed sometimes because they are labelled as being a liability. Gender inequality is shown through the difference between the wages the two gender groups earn and ill-treatment. Women often go through violence at workplaces, whether it be sexual or physical.

Why does Gender Inequality Exist?

Gender inequality exists because men are known to be more competent. For instance, family business are usually overtaken by sons instead of daughters as society believes that women are rather incompetent to run a business, which causes men to be in a superior position compared to women. The female marginalisation includes the inequality of the rights, the physical and sexual abuse and the gender disparity. There are 2 rape cases reported in Punjab every day, and most rape cases are not even reported. The female marginalisation in Punjab  has been there for years and it continues to be present. It was recently aggregated through the pressure of globalisation as there was an increase in the number of jobs available, however women were labelled too incompetent to take part in any of those jobs. The reason why female marginalisation is still present is because of the sexist mindset that has been adopted, the lack of education to combat sexism, and the lack of opportunities for women.

Superiority Bias & Stereotypes

This study shows us that women are socially identified through social and cultural norms. Through the perspective of the Punjabi Women, they are categorized by their gender (that they are females), their level of education, and level of income (which is extremely low). There are two groups that are known to be more superior than them, which are: men in the informal economy and people in the formal economy. The difference between men and women in the informal economy is only the gender but men in Punjab are perceived to be superior in general. Therefore, even if a woman is well-educated, it is overlooked as they are believed to be inferior to men. People in the formal economy differ as they have a higher level of education and a higher level of income. The conflict in Punjab is caused due to the stereotyping of Punjabi women. The stereotypical mindset of women being less educated, less succesful, and incompetent does not let them recieve basic rights, formal jobs, or even higher wages. The effect of the stereotyping is that this conflict will never come to an end, due to the fact that it is normalised. When the stereotype of a women in the informal economy of Punjab is known to be incompetent, many rights are snatched away from her immediately. Therefore, a conceited stereotype is one of the causes of the conflict and as long as this stereotype of women remains in people’s mind, the problem of female marginalisation will too.

Social Schemas

People perceive Punjabi women inferior to men because it fits their schema. Schemas are a cognitive framework or concept that help organize and interpret information. The idea of women being less educated, lower in the hierarchy, and incompetent is what fits in to the schema of Pubjab’s society. It’s the mindset that has developed over the course of many years. The question is where this schema comes from. Firstly the cultural norms. A lot of importance and value is devoted to the birth of a male child and a female child is often just viewed as an extra child to feed. This mindset is what makes women incompetent and due to the incomeptence, they are not educated. Punjabi Pop (Punjabi Music) is another reason these schemas have been aggravated. A lot of the lyrics of Punjabi music enforce the notion of masculinity and therefore, are revived in an aggressive manner that keeps women vulnerable. Lastly, the patriarchal society of Punjab perceives men to be the head of the house keeping women at a lower position.


All in all, the ideology of a women being inferior in comparison to a man, or stereotyping females to be incompetent, results in the marginlisation of women and does not let them rise up to the formal economy. It all roots from the schemas that individuals conceive about females, and the only solution to this issue is education. It is vital that these stereotypes are broken down, with the help of education in schools around Punjab.


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