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Women in Manufacturing

This factsheet is drawn from an ongoing IWWAGE-ISI study that seeks to examine the profile and background of women workers in contemporary industrial and urban landscapes – the kinds of opportunities available, barriers to participation, and aspirations and expectations from industrial employment. The study uses data collected from a survey of garment factory workers in Delhi NCR.The data is supplemented with more detailed information on current or aspiring women workers obtained through focus group discussions and interviews with women workers, and interviews with factory owners/managers, labour contractors, and so on.

Female Labour Force Participation Rate and Earnings Gap in India

Despite high economic growth, decline in fertility, and rise in schooling of girls, the Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) in India has declined in rural areas and stagnated in urban areas since the late 1980s. This is contrary to the global experience, where similar factors resulted substantial increase in the FLFPR. The recently released Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18 confirms the declining trend and shows FLFPR declined in all states with the exception of Madhya Pradesh and Goa. Women’s engagement in unpaid work is high in rural areas and while a majority of women are employed in regular wage work in urban areas, there are substantial wage differentials between men and women, most of the regular work of women is in the informal sector, and non-wage benefits are poor.  

Testing Approaches to Strengthen Gender within NRLM

With over 60 million women mobilised to be part of one of India’s largest livelihoods programme, the Deendayal Antayodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), holds great promise for advancing women’s socio-economic empowerment by organising them into self-help groups (SHGs) and institutions of the rural poor. These platforms are facilitating financial opportunities and livelihood support services for women.  The livelihoods programme works exclusively with rural women, and a critical element for its success has been the mission’s commitment towards prioritising women’s perspectives and being responsive to their needs and aspirations. This approach has been embedded across all DAY-NRLM activities with the goal of strengthening women’s agency, identity, well-being, and solidarity, through women’s collectivisation. NRLM believes that gender sensitisation and social action should be mainstreamed in its framework, systems, institutions and processes. To this end, it devised a Gender Operational Strategy in financial year 2019-20 committing actions that recognise women’s heterogeneity and the unique socio-economic barriers faced by them. Through Swayam, IWWAGE is partnering with DAY-NRLM to provide technical assistance to support this strategy and institutionalise gender across all levels of the Mission. The note gives a snapshot on the approaches to strengthen gender interventions by NRLM.

Empowering Women Collectives through Digital Initiatives in Chhattisgarh

Digital tools hold the promise of accelerating women’s empowerment, enhancing the effectiveness and efficacy of existing initiatives, providing new tools to improve knowledge, and creating new opportunities for women to connect and share information. Over the past year, the Initiative of What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), an initiative of LEAD at Krea University, has been working with the Government of Chhattisgarh and other partners to map the current digitisation initiatives for women’s empowerment in the state, understand their effectiveness, and identify potential opportunities for improvement. Most of these initiatives revolve around Self-Help Groups (SHG), which are social support groups known for empowering women through social mobilisation and financial inclusion.

The SHG ecosystem in Chhattisgarh is managed by the state chapter of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Chhattisgarh’s State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM or CGRLM), also known as Bihan. Bihan has led initiatives to empower women collectives by improving their financial and market linkages, promoting access to entitlements, and providing capacity development support. IWWAGE aims to assist Bihan in its efforts to strengthen the SHG ecosystem, promoting and testing digital solutions that will allow women’s collectives to leverage their skills to access markets and services more effectively. This document serves to capture IWWAGE’s efforts with respect to summarising and understanding these digitisation initiatives, identifying gaps and barriers, and proposing potential use cases.



Women and Unpaid Work

The methodology involves assessing the causal effect of switching to LPG on women’s outcomes by construction of a comparison group of households that are not eligible for or did not participate in PMUY. The study uses self-reported health status, and a time-use survey of women to measure the effect of LPG usage on time released for other activities. The results from this exercise would be used to design an experiment wherein information on long-term health benefits of LPG usage and the financial incentive under PMUY would be disseminated in randomly selected villages. This would be conducted by Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers by visiting randomly sampled households in ‘treatment’ villages on a monthly basis, and responses of women in targeted villages would be compared with those of other women at the end of a year. The study is being conducted in Indore region of Madhya Pradesh.

Women and Unpaid Work

This study builds and tests a structural model that explains observed changes in FLFP using data on urban, married women from the Time Use Survey (1998) and various rounds of the National Sample Survey (NSS). The model focuses on women’s work participation, educational attainment, other characteristics, and time spent in the labour market, home production, and leisure.

Identifying Gaps in Gender Statistics In India

Women are key agents of change, and a move towards gender equality translates into increased economic empowerment for women; it also brings greater benefits for the society at large. As pointed out by McKinsey Global Institute, the economic impact of achieving gender equality in India is estimated to be US$700 billion of added Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. But achieving gender equality necessitates measures to correct for existing disadvantages that prevent women from accessing productive opportunities. Gender data play an important role in this regard.

This study is an attempt to outline the existing gaps in available official data sources in India. The study has identified data gaps in key domains of women’s empowerment, namely, employment and wages, ownership of assets, access to basic amenities, financial inclusion, health, education, access to digital platforms, participation in decision making, and crime and violence, etc. The study highlights the need for more regular surveys on employment and wages, and time use surveys to better capture women’s paid and unpaid work, and also time spent on different unpaid activities. A multi-causal approach to data collection on migration, on earnings of the self-employed as well as on ownership and management of assets and businesses, at the individual level, is also recommended. Besides, a cohort study of young women, behavioural aspects, norms and opinions around women’s work, as well as data on mental health, learning outcomes, violence and individual access to digital resources, would provide a range of measures to investigate the issue of women’s empowerment.


Women’s Employment Within an Entrepreneurship Model

The recently released strategy document by NITI Aayog, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, recognises the declining female labour force participation rates in India in the last decade as one of the major constraints facing Indian economy. The document recognises the importance of increasing women’s labourforce participation rates for a sustained process of economic growth and proposes to increase women’s employment by encouraging entrepreneurship among women. The strategy proposes to increase women’s engagement in small businesses, micro, small and medium enterprises by facilitating easy access to skill training and credits at lower rates of interest and also touches upon the need for capacity building for women in SHGs in order to successfully implement the proposed business model. It is in this context, the Initiative for What Works to advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) and the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) hosted a half-day roundtable on 21 January, 2019 at the Willow, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The event was intended to be a starting point for a platform which would bring together individuals from different sections of the development sector in India, including academicians, researchers, practitioners and corporations to encourage deliberations, collaborations and device future strategies for making entrepreneurship model work towards improving women’s employment opportunities.


Note on IWWAGE Findings

IWWAGE promotes, synthesises and generates evidence on ‘What Works’ for women’s economic empowerment in India. The initiative focuses on moving from ‘How’ to ‘What Works’ to improve women’s participation in economic activities through access to decent work and economic resources, strengthen social protection networks, and facilitate gender transformative policies. To take the agenda of evidence generation forward, in the last one year, three studies have been undertaken by IWWAGE in India. This document summarises the findings from the three studies and lists the key policy concerns and recommendations that emerge across each of them. These include:

  1. Study on Centre based Child Care as a solution for Maternal Employment and Early Childhood Development: Recognising the complex and synergetic relationship between access to childcare facilities and women’s economic empowerment, a secondary review of global practices was undertaken to put together evidence on how accessible, affordable and quality center-based childcare can support women by reducing and redistributing the unpaid care work, and how it impacts maternal employment as well as early childhood development for children under 6 years
  2. Study on SHG digitisation: The study highlights that the majority of focus has been on MIS digitisation, followed by monitoring of SHGs. Linking of facilitators and group members to digital tools is in early stages of piloting and digitisation of livelihoods data is a distant goal.
  3. A rapid assessment of 181 Helpline scheme: IWWAGE was commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to undertake a rapid assessment of the implementation of the helpline scheme across different states in the country. The study was carried out across 11 states and aimed to understand the current status of implementation of the scheme along – i. Functionality of the 181 helpline; ii. State level MIS/databases; iii. Responsiveness of Centre staff, and iv. Integration between 181 Women’s helpline (WHL) and One Stop Centre (OSC).
Social Safety Net for Maternity Protection and Early Childhood Development in India

This paper analyses the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) system (its historical evolution and current form) and other policies that are intended to provide maternity support and early childhood development. In light of the learnings from the second paper, this paper attempts a gap analysis of the ICDS system – capacity and design – to reach the intended beneficiary. It highlights the fact that in an effort to provide integrated services, vertical programmes attempt to deliver their interventions using the common platform of ICDS, without accurately assessing the capacity or design of these platforms. Often the layering of additional inputs onto these platforms causes the system to overload, resulting in diminishing returns or exacerbating the negative feedback loops.

Moreover, human resources for childcare is one of the key features that influences the quality of the childcare centres. This paper includes findings from a qualitative field study on insights on human resources’ motivations and non-monetary incentives that influence their performance and productivity. This is accompanied by articulation of potential research questions and some next steps to further the agenda of early childhood development and maternity support.