How most women are paying with health at their jobs

Women construction workers building a bungalow in Bengaluru. Women workers in the unorganised sector are usually the worst off when it comes to occupational diseases and hazards. Photos: Maitreyee Boruah

At 64, Sarojamma (who goes by her first name only), a resident of Arundathi Nagar slum in Bengaluru, is in dire need of a job. In her twilight years, Sarojamma, like her peers, wants to have a “stable, secure and peaceful retired life”.

But her “poor health and equally poor finances” have forced the former construction worker to look for a less-gruelling job. For a few years, she was working as a domestic help but lost her job during the pandemic. Recalling her days as a construction worker, Sarojamma, sitting at the porch of her one-room home, tells The Federal that “it was both a boon and a bane”.

“I worked at various construction sites across Bengaluru for almost three decades. I started working when I was 25 and worked till my mid-fifties. It was never an easy job, but money was good compared to other work.” The long hours of work — sometimes for months at a stretch without a break — left Sarojamma with “severe back pain”. Today, she walks with a stoop. “I was a brick-breaker and weight carrier. Most women, who worked with me developed back pain. Some are bedridden now.”

Sarojamma's husband at 74 depends on his wife for all his needs. The couple does not have any children. “I have no one to support me. I need a job. I know I am old and weak but I have no other option,” she says raising her hands towards the sky.

To continue reading this article...

You have to be a Premium Subscriber

Start your subscription with a free trial

Enjoy unlimited Eighth column, archives and games on and many more features.
You will also be supporting ethical and unbiased journalism.
plans start from Rs. 149