South India has a much higher participation of women in the unorganised manufacturing sector than north India. The number of women employees in unorganised manufacturing enterprises (UMEs) in the northern region was as low as 5.3% in the national capital, 8.7% in Uttarakhand and 14.4% in Haryana, while the southern states emerged as the highest employers of women in the sector in 2005-06. The top four states were Andhra Pradesh (51.6%), Karnataka (51.1%), Kerala (50.2%) and Tamil Nadu (48.9%).
Unorganised manufacturing units are those not covered by the Annual Survey of Industries, and do not include government and public sector undertakings.
Among sectors, the highest proportion of women workers was found in units manufacturing tobacco products, chemicals and chemical products, paper and paper products and food and beverages.
The percentage of female workers registered a seven-fold increase from 69% to 76% in manufacture of tobacco products, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation's on employment in UMEs in 2005-06.
At the all-India level, too, while employment in UMEs dropped by nearly 2%, the proportion of female employees increased from 34% in 2000-01 to 38% in 2005-06. Also, employment in the food products and beverages sector dropped by 7% from nearly 68 lakh in 2000-01 to 63 lakh in 2005-06.
Another interesting finding of the Survey is the fact that while 39% of the working owners were female, 59% of the female workforce in the UMEs worked without a regular salary and mostly worked without being paid anything.
Manipur had the maximum percentage of female working owners at 83.9% followed by Karnataka (57.6%), Kerala (57.4%) and Andhra Pradesh (52.0%).
Women comprise 48% of the population but have only 26% share in the persons employed (under the usual status basis). If employment is measured on a much rigorous measure of ‘person days worked’, the share of women in employment decreases further to 22% as on 2004-05.
As per labour ministry figures, 80% of the urban women workforce are employed in unorganised sectors, like household industries, petty trade and services, building and construction.