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Nayi Chetna

Launch of annual campaign ‘Nayi Chetna’ with the Ministry of Rural Development

A step against gender based discrimination

Gender-based discrimination, often seen in the form of violence against women, girls and gender-diverse individuals, continues to be one of the biggest deterrents to achieving self-growth, well-being and a life of dignity. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 data reveals that 30% of women between the age of 18 and 49 have experienced violence (physical, sexual, or emotional) since 15 years of age. It also reveals that as many as 77% women never sought help from anyone about the violence inflicted on them.  Figures from the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India 2021’ report show that India registered 31,677 cases of rape in 2021 – an average 86 daily – while nearly 49 cases of crime against women were lodged every single hour. With a global rate of 1 in 3 women being a victim of violence, and given its physiological and psychological impacts, this human rights violation deters individuals from achieving their full potential and living a life of their choice. Individuals from socially marginalized groups are more acutely affected as gender-based violence is an added layer of vulnerability. 

IWWAGE in partnership with Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), UNICEF and Roshni recognize this social evil as a hindrance towards achieving individual and social development and aims to take necessary actions advance the rights of women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals. Strategic efforts have been made towards gender-mainstreaming by integrating gender approaches into its policies and programming to address gender inequality. These include building capacities of rural community-based institutions to identify and take action against issues of gender-based discrimination and setting up institutional mechanisms to make this process sustainable. The staff on ground and in the field were also given training and sensitization to integrate gender approaches into operations to create an enabling environment for multi-sectoral gender-responsive and transformative interventions in rural communities.

To add momentum and build on these ongoing efforts against gender-based discrimination, an annual national-level Gender Campaign against Gender-based discrimination, ‘Nayi Chetna’ was initiated. This month-long campaign was flagged off on the 25th of November marking the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, ending on the 23rd of December. The campaign was graced and launched by Hon’ble Sh. Giriraj Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of India and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State for Rural Development, Government of India, along with other senior officials from MoRD. IWWAGE also showcased an animated movie called ‘Kamli Ki Kahaani’ translating as ‘The story of Kamli’, a case study-based story following the lead ‘Kamli’, a victim of domestic violence. Through the medium of the video our aim was to educate the audience on various forms of violence and on redressal mechanisms provided by the government for anyone who may be a victim of violence. 


The goal of the campaign is to advance the agency and rights of women and gender diverse individuals, by addressing structural barriers for dignified living with no fear and discrimination and violence based on their gender and intersectional identities. This marks the first campaign as the campaign will be observed annually for the next five years, with a focus on specific themes responding to gender equity each year. Importantly, this is envisioned in the spirit of a ‘Jan Andolan’ or People’s movement with follow-up actions planned for the rest of the year beyond the month-long campaign. It will thus gradually work towards deepening an intersectional approach to address multiple vulnerabilities, enhanced convergence and deepening the understanding of gender and generating relevant and ownership for multisectoral action. 

The campaign ran in all 34 states and union territories of India. This campaign was implemented by all states in collaboration with CSO partners, and actively executed by all levels including the State, District, Block engaging the Community Institutions along with the extended community. It also marked the inauguration of 160 Gender Resource Centres (GRCs) in 13 states. GRCs are intended to act as a catalyst to support women through social, legal & economic empowerment in private and public spaces, within the family, community and at the workplace. There are 1,251 gender resource centres set up across the country from where women facing gender violence can seek help. The Campaign also brought together all line departments and stakeholders to create a concerted effort in acknowledging, identifying, and addressing issues of violence. There was an array of activities which were conducted during the campaign, some of which were night walk, rallies, street plays, wall paintings, hosting of legal and gender camps and women leadership workshops. 


Watch the animated video here


Strengthening Capacities of Rural women through DAY-NRLM institutional Framework

Achieving gender equality is paramount for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. But gender inequality persists everywhere, stagnating social and economic progress. In the context of India, out of the 135-crore population, 65.13 percent live in rural India and women constitute 48 percent of total rural population. These rural women who are majorly a part of unpaid work have no access to sustainable income or paid economic activities in their lives. This blog looks at some of the initiatives undertaken by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) aimed at empowering women. 

Launched by the Ministry of Rural Development, Swarna Gramin Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) was introduced to provide self-employment to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) households through the formation of SHGs (Self Help Groups) to bring them out of poverty during 1999 to 2011. The programme aimed to ensure that at least one woman member from each rural poor household is brought into women SHGs and their federations within a definite time frame. Prof. R. Radhakrishna (2009) Committee reviewed the performance of SGSY and suggested changes in the design from a ‘top-down poverty alleviation’ approach to a ‘community-managed livelihood’ approach. Based on the Committee’s recommendation, SGSY was restructured into Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) by the government to provide a sharper and greater focus as well as momentum for poverty elimination. DAY-NRLM was started with the mission “To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots institutions for the poor.” 

Rural women face structural barriers in accessing their right to livelihoods, resources, and social protection, which are important factors in attaining empowerment. Realising the need of the hour, in 2016, gender mainstreaming was introduced within the NRLM program, and it was restructured as Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM). The approach of mainstreaming was to focus on shaping programs and policies in all verticals with a gender lens, for example- financial inclusion of women can lead to promotion of ownership of bank accounts, promotion of kitchen gardens can improve the health status of women and children, and methods for strengthening independent economic identity of women. The program also believes that mainstreaming of gender within its framework and systems is important to achieve sustainable economic, social, and political empowerment. In addition to gender mainstreaming, the focus was also on the inclusion of the most vulnerable communities- devadasis, single/widowed/divorced women, HIV+, transgender persons, elderly women, survivors of violence and trafficking.

For strengthening the approach of gender mainstreaming in all the verticals, DAY-NRLM introduced another important strategy- setting up of institutional mechanisms at different levels. The focus of setting up of these mechanisms was to establish a demand-supply relationship with other public entities like the Gram Panchayat/Village Council (specific to tribal areas), Gram Sabhas, Anganwadi Centres, Public Health Centres, Public Distribution System, banks, schools, etc and convergence with these line departments. To achieve this, a well-planned gender architecture has been placed at the community level like Gender Point Persons (GPPs), Gender Forums and Social Action Committee (SAC) at village level, Cluster Level Federation (CLF), Gender Justice Centre (GJC) and Gender Resource Centre (GRC) at block level. These institutions have been formed so that SHG members can approach them in need. The Gender Forum and the VO-SAC together prepare a Gender Action Plan to resolve critical gender issues in the village. The VO-SACs and Gender Forums also monitor progress on actions and report on them to the Cluster Level Federation (CLF), which aggregates agendas for all Village Organisations (VOs) under them. Through these collective actions, they are playing a pivotal role in uplifting women’s condition and position in society by identifying, acknowledging, and addressing issues of discrimination. 

The program has also given a platform for the capacity building for sustainability of these women federations through experienced gender experts called the National Resource Person (NRP). The NRPs train community resource persons (CRPs) at block level and help them to make Gender Operational Strategy based on the issues they are facing in their respective blocks and villages. Further, these CRPs train VOs and GPPs on gender concepts. Since the inception of gender mainstreaming in the program and as a result of these trainings, an improvement in indicators related to women empowerment has been noticed, which includes- sex ratio, participation in household decisions, having an account in the bank, having land in her name alone or jointly etc. In continuation to this, women’s autonomy and participation in grass root governance have also been seen in recent years. They have recognised their participation in Aam Sabha and Gram Sabha as well as in panchayat elections, which have been a huge milestone for this program as not only at socio-economic level, but women are heading towards political empowerment also.

Besides taking up issues related to gender discrimination, the institutional mechanisms of the program have proved its efficacy by addressing social evils. For example, the states of Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh through the NRETP (National Rural Economic Transformation Project) under DAY-NRLM have successfully taken up the issue of Anti Human Trafficking and worked towards ending it with the help of community institutions. Witch hunting, which is an old social scourge practised mainly in rural India is one of the most challenging issues in states like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. To curb this practice, DAY-NRLM and JSLPS (Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society) has introduced Garima Project in 2020 and an institution called Garima Kendra has been established at CLF level, which aims to eradicate this practice. Another important social issue is Gender Based Violence. DAY-NRLM through its programs has been capacitating the women federations on how to deal with GBV cases with sensitivity and approach the concerned line departments for help. For this, a new federation called Gender Resource Centre (GRC) has been formed in 15 states at block and Gram Panchayat levels which would be taking issues mainly on GBV cases. In case of child marriage, DAY-NRLM has been training women federations through NRPs on how to prevent it.

DAY-NRLM is an ongoing program which aims to mobilize poor households and address gender related issues along with State Mission Units (SMUs), women’s institutions, and line ministries. It also believes in engaging men and boys as their involvement is crucial to achieving gender equality. The Mission seeks to reach out to around 10 crore rural poor households in a phased manner by 2023 and impact their livelihoods significantly. There are many stories of hope and resilience, where DAY-NRLM institutions have given voice and support to these rural women empowering them to realize their true potential.

This blog is authored by Mrs. Ankita Sharma, Senior Research Associate at IWWAGE. 

Aneek Chowdhury
Aneek Chowdhury

Research Associate

Aneek Chowdhury is a Research Associate at IWWAGE. He has completed his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Heramba Chandra College (City College South), University of Calcutta, and a master’s degree in Economics from Ambedkar University Delhi,

His current focus revolves around a comprehensive study on Capturing Women’s Unpaid Work. Aneek’s academic journey has nurtured a keen interest in areas such as game theory, social choice, and political economy,

G20 workshop

G20 Thematic Workshop on Nari Shakti: Towards Women-Led Development organised by NITI Aayog and IWWAGE

A workshop on the theme of Nari Shakti: Towards Women-led Development, emanating from the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration 2023 (NDLD 2023), was held on 8 November 2023 at New Delhi.  The workshop was organized by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Institute of What Works to Advance Gender Equality (IWWAGE). This workshop was part of the series of thematic workshops steered and anchored by the NITI Aayog towards action items in the NDLD 2023.

The workshop focused on specific themes for enhancing the role of women in economy through economic and social empowerment. Discussions were held of topics of strengthening women’s collectives like Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs); bridging gender skills gap and promoting women entrepreneurs; and strengthening legal safeguards for women’s empowerment.


The Workshop commenced with inaugural remarks by Dr. V.K Paul, Member NITI Aayog, where he highlighted that women-led development has been emphasized by our Hon’ble Prime Minister through various initiatives and programmes over the last few years. However, he underscored the challenge of low female labour force participation and stressed upon leveraging their social capital by providing them an enabling ecosystem. He called to synergize pathways of G20 priorities and national agendas, and create actionable strategies to achieve the same.

Dr. Preetam B Yashvant, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, emphasized of the paradigm shift where women are no longer recipients but active participants in the development discourse. He further highlighted that G20 was truly a Peoples’ Presidency where women-led development was showcased through ‘Jan Bhagdari’ activities.

Dr Sandhya Purecha, Chair W20 India, highlighted that Nari Shakti encapsulates the strength that women embody and women-led development is a moral obligation necessary for equitable society.

The theme on Women in the Economy: Enhancing Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment delved into increasing women’s labour force participation to achieve women-led development. Issues like recognizing gender disparity in domestic and care work; and increasing investment in this sector to enable more women to participate meaningfully in the workforce; exploring the potential of gig economy; bridging gender skill gaps and social security for women; enhancing policies to create gender inclusive and supportive workplaces; and role of private sector to enhance and retain female workforce, were discussed.

The theme on Women’s Collectives: Strengthening SHGs, Women led FPOs and Rural Women’s Leadership Abilities focused on sharing the best practices in the women’s collectives’ space and strategies to scale them pan-India. The segment engaged in developing strategies to enable these women’s collectives reach the next stage of economic empowerment through formation of large producer enterprises or collectives and fostering leadership abilities among rural women.

The theme on Women and the Future of Work: Bridging Digital and Skilling Gaps for Access to Jobs and Strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship concentrated on enhancing women’s access to digital skills and infrastructure, prioritizing quality and safety, to ensure a secure and inclusive digital literacy experience, fostering greater participation in the digital ecosystem. It also focused on incentivizing employers to promote women’s participation in non-traditional sectors by addressing structural issues that shape gender roles, thereby encouraging women’s entrepreneurship and diversification of career aspirations.

In the segment of Legal Safeguards for the Empowerment of Women, discussions focused on creating an enabling ecosystem by prioritizing women’s safety through improved public infrastructure, strengthening the implementation of gender-friendly laws by effective monitoring, evaluation and placing accountability system, and developing gender-disaggregated data for more evidence-based policy for women-led development.

This workshop provided a platform for experts, academics, experts, and civil society and think tank representatives working on gender empowerment to collaborate and design a roadmap for comprehensive gender equality and empowerment.



GRC workshop

The Ministry of Rural Development and IWWAGE jointly organized a two-day
Consultative Workshop on Gender Resource Centre

The Ministry of Rural Development and IWWAGE jointly organized a two-day Consultative Workshop on Gender Resource Centre in New Delhi on 27th and 28th July 2023. In his keynote address, Shri Charanjit Singh Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development mentioned that since 2016, DAY NRLM has targeted intervention for mainstreaming gender within the program with the goal to strengthen the voice, choice and agency of women. To respond to the issues of gender specific entitlements and rights, a need was felt for establishing a structure like Gender Resource Centre to find resolution for a varied range of complex cases that demand inter linkages with other departments.

Setting the context for the workshop, Smt. Smriti Sharan, Joint Secretary, shared that the DAY-NRLM has initiated a silent revolution in the country and that its transformative approach is premised on the principles of creating women led and women owned institutions. She shared the two basic principles of the DAY-NRLM program are social empowerment and economic empowerment of the rural poor women. Joint Secretary further stated that the establishment of GRC has been a landmark achievement for the program reaffirming DAY-NRLMs commitment to the mandate of women empowerment. Ms. Sharon Buteau, Executive Director of LEAD at Krea University underscored the importance of evidence generation in identifying key elements for interventions.



A total of 75 participants from 15 states along with CSO partners and gender experts participated in the workshop. The deliberations in the workshop highlighted the major components for strengthening Gender Resource Centre through a participatory group work. The enriching experiences from the participating State viz. Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Nagaland, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tripura re-emphasizes the efforts that are required for strengthening the Gender Resource Centre in the country.


The closing remarks by Joint Secretary, Smt Smriti Sharan, laid out that the discussions have helped us reflect on the present scope of the GRC and ambit of work that lay in front of us. She also added that if GRCs are envisioned as the apex body of the community institutions at the Block level, then its role should also be of higher order. She also laid emphasis on the fact that it is much larger than just addressing cases- it is about combatting gender inequality through a holistic approach.


Fourth Gender Samvaad

Fourth Gender Samvaad was co-organized by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission ((DAY-NRLM) and Institute for What Works to Advance Gender Equality (IWWAGE) –September 22, 2023

The fourth Gender Samvaad was co-organized by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Developmen and Institute for What Works to Advance Gender Equality (IWWAGE) on September 22nd 2023. The virtual event brought together over 8000 participants, including senior officials MoRD, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of Bihar and state government officials, practitioners, gender experts, academia, civil society actors, and members of self-help groups.
Gender Samvaad, is a unique, joint attempt between DAY-NRLM and IWWAGE to establish a shared platform to generate awareness on DAY-NRLM’s gender interventions across the country, with a focus on hearing voices from the states and of SHG members.
In his keynote address, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Shri Charanjit Singh expressed concerns over the statistics on gender based violence and emphasised on the role that community based institutions can play in addressing this issue. He also stressed on inter-ministerial convergence to address Gender Based Violence, especially with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Education for awareness generation and sensitisation.

Joint Secretary, DAY-NRLM, Smt. Smriti Sharan highlighted the extensive efforts undertaken by DAY-NRLM in empowering women and creating model institutions to address women’s issues in rural areas particularly through the platform of Gender Resource Centre.
Community resource persons (CRP) from various states including Jharkhand, Kerala and Odisha were invited to share their experience of institutional strategies adopted to address gender based violence. Smt Rajani Dandasena from Odisha shared the experience of the functioning of the Prerna Kendra (Gender Resource centres) at Gram Panchayat level. The Prerna Kendras have established strong linkages with other departments through Gender Forum and have been able to address cases of Violence. The Gender Campaign launched in November 2022 has also led to widespread awareness on GBV and demanding public action through the institutions of the women. Women shared experiences of addressing issues like witch hunting, drug abuse, sexual violence, etc.
Smt. Mahua Roy Chaudhary from Jeevika, Government of Bihar highlighted the importance of gender training, learning pedagogies and use of IEC materials leading to creation of gender responsive institutions particularly Didi Adhikar kendras for addressing violence that is deep rooted in patriarchy and social norms. She also emphasized the political empowerment of women as ward members and mukhiyas in the state. She emphasized the importance of sustainability of these institutions in continuing delivering women’ s empowerment.

A panel discussion followed which included Joint Secretary from Ministry of Women and Child Development, Gender Expert and Women’s rights lawyer to emphasise the importance of  SRLM and system related opportunities like legal  remedies including fast track courts, horizontal and vertical gender training across different stakeholders and  inter-ministerial convergence adopting multi-pronged strategies to address GBV.   The panel discussed innovative financing for sustainability, safe spaces for women like Shakti Sadan and short stay homes, strengthening data driven governance and economic agency of women. The conversation laid out the scope of convergence between Naari Adalats under Mission Shakti with Gender Resource Centres under DAY-NRLM.  The Samvaad 2023 ended with the need to come together to address the core issues of women through focus on preventive measures, convergence and innovative and local approaches of problem solving.

IAWS-IWWAGE_Panel on Care Workers

Institute for What Works to Advance Gender Equality (IWWAGE) and Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) panel on Strengthening the Voices of Care Workers in India



On 7th September, 2023, Institute for What Works to Advance Gender Equality (IWWAGE) collaborated with the prestigious Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) as a part of their 17th National Conference held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (7th – 10th September 2023). The crucial panel discussion was held on one of the emerging issues of women workers in the insidious and rarely recognised sector of the economy – the care sector. The panel aimed to discuss mechanisms to strengthen the voices of such workers and aims at contributing to policies for their welfare.

The session was chaired and moderated by Ritu Dewan (Vice President, Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE)). The panel was introduced by Bidisha Mondal (Research Fellow, IWWAGE-LEAD at Krea University), where the panellists were Dipa Sinha (Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi), Sonia George (General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Kerala), Kiran Moghe (Member, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)) and AR Sindhu (General Secretary, All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH)). The concluding remarks were given by Ishita Mukhopadhyay (President, IAWS).

The discussion centred on the growing significance of care work and care workers, particularly in rural India, where they form the largest group of frontline workers employed by the State. With a diverse range of care workers in the country, spanning from unpaid to underpaid, working for the public and private sectors, households, or even within their own families, the panellists highlighted the pressing challenges these workers still face today. Women, particularly those serving as frontline workers such as Aanganwadi workers, ASHA workers, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), mid-day meal workers etc., play a vital role in providing essential services to rural communities. Despite their substantial contributions to various human development outcomes and being responsible for the generation of 25-30% of India’s GDP (sic), the State does not officially recognize them as ’employees’; instead, they are often referred to as ‘scheme’, ‘voluntary’, or ‘honorary’ workers. They dedicate approximately 4 to 6 hours a day to their responsibilities, leaving them with little time to pursue other forms of employment. This lack of recognition is compounded by meagre compensation, which falls below the minimum wage and underscores the undervaluing of their work. In the country, only 14 states have officially established minimum wage rates for domestic and care workers, and even these are significantly below what is considered adequate. Unfortunately, in practice, it is found that the wages that workers receive are even lower than these officially notified rates. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that this issue extends beyond the rights of care workers. It also encompasses the rights of those receiving care – who have a right to receive high-quality, respectful, and dignified care. Overworked and underappreciated care workers may not be able to offer the level of attention, compassion, and expertise required. This work is not only valuable, but often requires a high level of skill – including empathy, communication, problem-solving, and often medical or technical expertise depending on the context. It requires emotional labor, as well as physical and intellectual effort. Failing to recognize this skill can lead to a lack of job satisfaction and motivation to work, which ultimately impacts the quality of care. Therefore, this work must not only be recognized but also compensated appropriately.

These honorary survival wages are provided without the benefit of any accompanying social security policies. Despite being the cornerstone of the rural economy, care workers are not even entitled to the care they themselves provide. In essence, the quality of care provided by care workers is then directly impacted by the conditions in which they operate. The highlighted challenges are not solely about their wages, but also about the overall working environment — including access to essential facilities like toilets during their shifts, and the implementation of social security measures. Additionally, provisions for maternity entitlements for the care workers who provide such benefits themselves are crucial. Without these fundamental rights and support systems, the standard of care delivered may not meet its full potential. 


In the urban landscape, domestic workers entrusted with the care and upkeep of households and their occupants are also facing a profound transformation in their paradigm of employment. This shift is underscored by several significant trends. Firstly, there is a notable surge in mechanization, altering the traditional landscape of household tasks. Concurrently, a rise in unemployment among employers of care workers is observed, marking a consequential shift in the employment dynamic. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated this evolution, ushering in substantial lifestyle changes. These shifts encompassed a notable shift in habits and attitudes, and have also unveiled persistent discriminatory practices that continue to plague this workforce. Additionally, the outsourcing trend of the emergence of gig economy workers through apps has not only altered the employment structure but has also introduced new dynamics to the sector, emphasizing the need for adaptability and resiliency within this workforce.

However, one noteworthy achievement highlighted during the discussion was the expansion of schemes offering opportunities for workers, particularly women, to form unions, even if they are not in formal employment. Over the past decade, there has been a remarkable surge in union activities nationwide, leading to numerous successful endeavours in the fight for fundamental labour rights.

As the global conversation shifts from centring on care workers to prioritizing support for individuals in need of care, the struggles faced by care workers are often marginalized or overlooked. The panel identified this change in the narrative to highlight the importance of re-evaluating the recognition and support provided to care workers. The panel emphasized the importance of discussing welfare measures when considering wages and time dedicated to care work within the framework of social protection. The transition from a welfare-centric approach to one centered around establishing minimum wages should be a pivotal focus for domestic and care workers, and the subsequent policy recommendations. One pertinent question to address is whether there is adequate representation of domestic and care workers on these minimum wage committees. This aspect bears significant weight in ensuring fair and just compensation for the invaluable contributions of these workers.

The panel emphasised the efforts that must be made to recognize the home as a legitimate workplace, especially in contexts where care work is predominantly carried out. They pointed out the current oversight in acknowledging domestic settings as official work environments and stressed that this recognition requires active engagement with pertinent stakeholders, especially labour ministry and departments, to highlight the significance of this matter. They also emphasized the importance of collaborating with statistical agencies to establish robust mechanisms for integrating care work into official labour statistics. This would involve creating specific categories or classifications customized to accurately depict the contributions of care workers. They suggested the necessity for a proactive approach in initiating productive dialogues with stakeholders, ultimately leading to the establishment of comprehensive guidelines and protocols for data collection and reporting specifically tailored to care work. The panel concluded that by diligently pursuing these actionable points, significant progress can be achieved in rectifying the current oversight and ensuring that the invaluable contributions of care workers receive the recognition and appreciation they rightfully deserve.


An extensive question-and-answer session ensued after the panel discussion. Where the discussion brought various crucial points to the fore, concerning: old age care, instances of sexual harassment faced by domestic workers within households, the impact of invasive technologies on care workers, as well as instances of discrimination experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions provided an invaluable opportunity for further discourse and action on these pressing issues.

This note has been prepared by Prakriti Sharma, Senior Research Associate, IWWAGE-LEAD at Krea University.

Engendering Early Childhood Development in India


Over the past decade, there has been a growing global focus on early childhood development. Quality childcare can provide children with lifelong health, education, and social development benefits. Women have traditionally been responsible for childcare, with little help managing it alongside their work, paid or unpaid. The responsibility of unpaid care work disproportionately impacts women’s access to education, employment, leisure, health, and well-being. It also reduces the availability of opportunities for remunerative employment.  Women are frequently compelled to work in informal, unstable environments or quit entirely due to caregiving responsibilities. This unequal burden impacts women from all walks of life but disproportionately affects impoverished and underprivileged women. Policymakers in India need to address the unpaid care work women are obligated to perform. Establishing childcare centres, or creches, is a crucial policy tool for achieving this objective. This blog will look at state-sponsored creche policies and programmes and assess how well they work to help women find and retain jobs. 

In India, care policies and legislation have long been influenced by the concept of “Gendered Familialism,” which places the responsibility of care work on women based on familial relationships (Neeta and Palriwala, 2011). Unfortunately, this strategy limits the pool of potential carers and care recipients, fails to acknowledge care as a shared public responsibility, and does not take into account the fact that women frequently require assistance managing both their paid work and care obligations, particularly with regard to childcare. Over the years, many legislative and policy initiatives have sought to address this mindset by attempting to redistribute care provision to employers and the government. These include early statutory provision of childcare in the formal sector, crèches provided at worksite in the informal sector under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the universalization of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and the PALNA scheme, which mandates making crèches accessible for both employed and unemployed mothers (Chigateri, 2017). Although these government programmes and legal frameworks have touched on the need for childcare benefits to increase women’s labour force participation by providing daycare centres and maternity benefits, the execution of such mandates can be improved.

Tracing the History of Child Care Services 

Childcare services have been recommended for working women in many government and non – government policy documents (Chigateri, 2017).  For working mothers, ‘crèches, nurseries, and labor-saving devices’ were recommended in the 1974 report “Towards Equality” by the Committee on the Status of Women.  The “Shramshakti” report from 1988 was another significant report, which acknowledged the right of working women to have access to child care. It also suggested childcare facilities for women working in the informal sector. Childcare services for women in both the formal and informal sectors were also advised in other policy documents.  The 1988 National Perspective Plan for Women suggested that laws requiring companies to provide crèches for a certain percentage of female employees be changed to gender-neutral policies. Additionally, the 2001 National Policy for the Empowerment of Women recommended that childcare facilities be available in workplaces, educational institutions, and residences for the elderly and disabled.

Despite the strong emphasis on centre-based childcare services in several policy documents, progress towards implementing these recommendations has been slow in reality. Most legislation on the subject has only applied to women employed in the organized sector, leaving out a significant portion of the female workforce. Legislations such as the Factories Act 1948, Plantation Labour Act 1951, Mines Act 1952, Beedi and Cigar Workers’ Act 1966, Contract Labour Act 1970, Inter-state Migrant Workers Act 1980, and Building and Construction Workers Act 1996 mandate crèche facilities in the organized sector and workplaces with a relatively large number of women employees. Efforts to expand childcare options for women workers have been made in both organized and unorganized sectors through the Maternity Benefits Act (2017) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2008). The Maternity Benefits Act 1961, amended in March 2017, presents a mixed picture of state involvement in childcare provision (Chigateri, 2017)[1]. Although the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act extends the duration of wage replacement during maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks, it also mandates establishments with 50 or more employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The high threshold and the exclusion of women workers outside the organised sector drew criticism from women’s organisations.

In the Draft Rules on Social Security Code (SSC), which the Ministry of Labour and Employment published in November 2020, the condition of more than fifty employees in the Maternity Benefit Act (Amended), 2017, was changed to an eligibility condition of fifty “women employees.”, disregarding the needs of young children of all employees, both men and women workers (Mishra and Sachdeva, 2021)[2].

MGNREGA is the only act in the country that gives legislative support for childcare provisioning in the unorganized sector, recognizing both the work-related rights of women and their right to provide adequate nutrition and care for their infants. However, creches under MGNREGA have performed unsatisfactorily.

Another modality through which childcare provision was introduced in India was the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), launched by the Government of India in the 1970s. The programme was designed to promote early childhood development (ECD) in children under the age of six. It was the first government initiative to address young children’s nutritional, health, and early learning needs while also enhancing mothers’ capacity to meet those needs (Mishra and Sachdeva, 2021)  [3]. The program focused on six comprehensive services: supplementary nutrition and growth monitoring, immunization, health check-ups, health and nutrition education, referral services, and non-formal pre-school education. This program was to be coordinated through Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) by Anganwadi workers and helpers. Over time, the program expanded to cover all blocks in the country.  Children under the age of six now have a universal right to these services due to the Supreme Court’s order for the quality universalization of the ICDS. The ICDS has played a significant role in tackling malnutrition amongst children and mothers in the country. However, implementation of the programme has largely been reliant on mothers of children, perpetuating the notion that childcare is solely their responsibility and creating difficulties for employed women accessing services.

Furthermore, the pick-up and drop timings of AWCs frequently conflict with the mothers’ employment hours, necessitating the need for dependable childcare services. Also, the AWCs are only open for four hours, which is unhelpful for working women who put in much longer hours. In 2012, the Restructured ICDS document did recommend the conversion of 5 percent of AWCs in the country to Anganwadi-cum-crèches (AWCCs) but this has only been implemented in a limited number of AWCs.

The Scheme of Assistance Crèches for Working/Ailing Mothers was another way the government introduced childcare services for women. It was initiated in 1974 to offer creche services to the young children of female labourers living below the poverty line. The Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme (RGNCS) for Children of Working Mothers was created in 2006 as a merger of two previous crèche schemes: the aforementioned scheme and the National Crèche Fund Scheme established in 1995. The government runs the scheme in partnership with private sector and non-government organizations to target remote and underprivileged areas. It was later renamed the National Creche Scheme (NCS). Though important, this scheme restricted Creche facilities’ provision to working or ailing mothers.

Status of current schemes

As part of the recently approved Mission Shakti, the National Creche Scheme has been updated and renamed as Palna Scheme to provide creche services for children (6 months to 6 years old) of working mothers as well as to enhance the nutritional and physical well-being of kids.  The scheme will offer working women’s children a safe and secure environment for their nutritional, physical, and cognitive development and inspire women to pursue their career opportunities.  The Scheme provides Creche facilities for children of all women, whether employed or not. This denotes a progressive shift in the government’s perspective. This programme addresses the urgent need for high-quality childcare facilities. During the 15th Finance Commission, the government intends to establish an additional 17,000 Anganwadi cum creches under Palna.  Despite its carefully considered formulation, the secret to its success will be in how well it is put into practice.  The programme’s effectiveness will be ensured by increasing the network of childcare facilities and allocating sufficient financial resources in that direction. It is critical that the planning, designing, execution and monitoring of these schemes and programmes actively adopt gender intentionality in their approach to ensure that care work ceases to pose a challenge to women’s social and economic well-being.

Author: This blog is authored by Divya Singh, Research Manager at IWWAGE

[1] Palriwala, R. and Neetha, N., 2011. Stratified familialism: the care regime in India through the lens of childcare. Development and Change, 42(4), pp.1049-1078.

[2] Chigateri, S., 2017. ”Pathways to Accessible, Affordable and Gender-Responsive Childcare Provision for Children Under Six-India Case Studies.

[3] ibid

[4] Committee on the Status of Women. 1974. ‘Towards Equality’. New Delhi: Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Government of India

[5] Government of India, 1988. Shramshakti: Report of the National Commission on Self-Employed Women and Women in the Informal Sector

[6] ibid

[7] Mishra, S and Shubhika Sachdeva in Agrawal, N., 2021. Her Right To Equality: From Promise to Power. Penguin Random House India Private Limited.

[8] ibid