26 February 2020
Panel Discussion on Women’s Economic Empowerment: Evidence, Policy and Practice in India
Organised by the World Bank South Asia, 12 March, 2020
As a part of the “South Asia Women in the Workforce Week”, a panel discussion was organised by the World Bank South Asia Regional Gender team in collaboration with the India Gender Platform to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The panel focused on the evidence base for policies, programs and interventions that aim to promote women’s economic empowerment in India. The panel highlighted the evidences and lessons from successful interventions, i.e. “what we know” and the existing research gaps in women’s economic empowerment in India and potential opportunities for innovation, i.e. “what’s missing”. The panel responded to some crucial questions on the evidence on women’s economic empowerment in India, and the need for more evidence. The discussion also revolved around innovative ideas for future research, policy, and practice and the lessons to be learned from other countries and regions.
Speakers also shared their motivation that gives hope and drive and to continue their respective invaluable work. They also shared examples of efforts in South Asia and India that inspires a shift in the current thinking and practice on women’s economic empowerment.
The panellist included, Rohini Pande (Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics, Director of the Economic Growth Center, Yale University), Jayati Ghosh (Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Jorge Coarasa (Program Leader, World Bank), Yamini Atmavilas (India Lead, Gender Equality, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and Soumya Kapoor (Head, IWWAGE)
IWWAGE along with the Feminist Policy Collective (FPC), hosted a panel discussion on Violence and the Political Economy of Work at Indian Association of Women’s Studies Conference 2020 (IAWS), held at the National Law University (NLUD), Delhi from 28-30 January, 2020.
The panel on Violence and the Political Economy of Work focused on identifying and unravelling of the political economy of production-patriarchy interdependency, and the interlinkages between the continuum of work and the continuum of violence. The panelists talked on the multiple strands of work and violence woven together based on ground realities and linkages to economic policies. The interconnectedness of the domain was explored to develop a nuanced critique of the political economy of work and to give directions for future strategy. The panel addressed topics around:
Moderator: Subhalakshmi Nandi, Feminist Policy Collective (FPC)
Discussant: Chirashree Das Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University
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Organised by National Commission for Women in collaboration with V.V.Giri National Labour Institute
March 6, 2020
The National Commission for Women in collaboration with the V. V. Giri National Labour Institute has proposed to conduct five regional consultations on matters relating to working women, especially those in the unorganised sector to understand the factors affecting female labour force participation. The regional consultations will be held in Cuttack, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar and Delhi in collaboration with respective National Law Universities (NLUs). The Cuttak consultation was held on March 6, 2020.
The regional consultations will be deliberating on issues related to women’s participation in the labour market and the constraints which women face to continue in paid employment. There would be an attempt to understand the relationship between female labour force participation (FLFP) with informality, unpaid care work, gender-based violence including workplace harassment, marriage, socio-cultural norms, social protection, labour regulations etc. The consultations will also bring to light a range of factors with a focus on region specific factors affecting women’s paid work and highlight on the necessary policy interventions/action plans that need to undertake at a regional level for addressing the issues related to declining female labour force participation. This would be a platform for sharing of good practices and experiences addressing FLFP. The regional consultation will be bringing together experts and practitioners working on gender and labour issues including scholars from the academia, government (Ministries concerned), State Commissions on Women, international organizations, and other organisations.
Technical Expert-State Coordination
Prita is working as Technical Expert- State Coordination. She is managing partnership program on gender across states and is involved in providing technical assistance on gender integration to NRLM.
Prior to joining, IWWAGE, Prita was working with the Girls Education Program, Room to Read. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the non-governmental sector around building participation, leadership and agency of girls and women. Prita has rich experience of working on gender issues in diverse locations with various national and international agencies. She is an M.Phil. in Sociology, from the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and also holds a Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Nidhi is a Research Associate at IWWAGE. She holds an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Miranda House, University of Delhi and a Masters in Economics from Ambedkar University Delhi. She has been a visiting student at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, where she worked in the domain of labour economics, around the status of women’s participation in the labour force in major states of India. She is currently engaged in creating state factsheets for India, describing major trends in women’s workforce participation, using the recent PLFS data. Her areas of interest include applied microeconomics, feminist economics and Marxist political economy.
Ayushi is a Research Associate at IWWAGE. She completed her Post-graduation in Economics from Ashoka University and holds a Bachelors in Economics degree from Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi. Previously, Ayushi has been associated with the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) and Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and has worked closely on matters of revenue mobilization. She is interested in issues of gender and caste discrimination especially with respect to resource allocation.
IWWAGE partnered with the National Gender Centre at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) to support a series of workshops on multi-agency coordination to address violence against women and children. The first among a series of three workshops was organised on 19-21 December,2019 at the academy in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The workshop brought together officials serving in the field of administration, law enforcement, judiciary and medical services, and those who have been engaged in investigating and prosecuting cases of violence against women and children. The three-day workshop included sessions on intersectionality of gender, legal scenario and current context in India, understanding violence from a victim’s perspectives, and institutional mechanisms that exist to prosecute cases of violence, including group work on several case studies that dealt with such cases.
Capacity Building Program in Tackling Violence against Women and Children in India
Exploring the Role of Women’s Collectives and Community Participation
9-10 January 2020, New Delhi, India
The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, and DFID in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development organised a conference on the evidence and learning from the national rural livelihoods programs, state projects and the implications for evidence-informed policymaking. The conference brought together policymakers, researchers and development practitioners to understand how evidence can feed into programmes and policies.
As a part of the two-day conference held in New Delhi, Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), organised a session: Can rural livelihoods interventions reshape deep rooted social and gender hierarchies?
The session revolved around efforts, experiences, and evidence on building gender-intentional programming with NRLM. The session featured lessons from a program on engendering livelihoods led by ANANDI in a pilot program in Madhya Pradesh; the experience and learnings from Kudumbashree’s Gender Programming including the Gender Self Learning Program and Snehitha; the design of a multistate program of work to engender NRLM and strengthen institutional mechanisms for gender through Gender Resource Centres; and finally, NRLM’s efforts to integrate gender through the program.
The presenters included Nita Kejrewal (JS, MoRD); Usha Rani (Lead, IB/CB, Gender, and FNHW, NMMU); Yamini Atmavilas (BMGF); representative from Kudumbashree, Govt of Kerala; Soumya Kapoor and Divya Hariharan (IWWAGE-LEAD, KREA University).
7-8 March, 2019
Organised by: ICRW and VVGNLI
IWWAGE participated as a presenter at the two-day workshop to commemorate International Women’s Day. The workshop saw participation from experts and practitioners working on gender and labor issues, including scholars from various academia, concerned ministries from the government, international organisations, and civil society.
Women and Unpaid Work in India
A One-day Stakeholder Consultation for Informing the Union Budget (2020-21) Organised by Feminist Policy Collective in partnership with UN Women Multi Country Office (MCO) for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka
18 November 2019
Over the years, line Ministries in India with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) as an anchor, have undertaken several gender mainstreaming and Gender-Responsive Budgeting (GRB) efforts. This also included supporting a Working Group of Feminist Economists (WGFE) within the erstwhile Planning Commission. UNIFEM and UN Women supported much of this work in the past and contributed to inclusion of intersectional and marginalized perspectives into planning and budgeting processes at national and state level.
As Government of India launches its efforts for developing the Union Budget (2020-21), the Feminist Policy Collective (FPC) proposes to bring together government, policymakers, researchers and practitioners from across the country, working on GRB and feminist financing across sectors, to discuss and deliberate on persistent challenges at national and state level, as well as to identity promising practices that can be replicated and upscaled in the upcoming budget. FPC works on Transformative Policy and Financing for Gender Equality. It is run by an independent network of academic researchers, policy experts, and campaigners who are committed to strengthening gender transformative policies, plans, and budgets in India.
Based on a situational analysis undertaken by the FPC to inform this consultation, the following thematic areas, strategies and mechanisms for GRB and financing have been prioritized: (a) women’s economic empowerment, (b) data and statistics, (c) platforms for gender-responsive and intersectional planning and (d) institutional mechanisms and accountability for GRB and financing.
IWWAGE and the Institute of Social Studies Trust co-organized a day-long round table discussion on “Women’s Employment Within an Entrepreneurship Model”.
The discussion was held on January 21, 2019 in New Delhi.
The Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), through its Centre of Excellence on Women’s Empowerment Collectives, organized a breakfast roundtable on “SHG Federations for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Setting a New Agenda” on December 11, 2018 in New Delhi.
The discussions revolved around the following thematic areas :
7 December, 2019
Panel title: Rethinking the Discourse on Women’s Economic Empowerment
Organised by: Centre for Gender Studies at IHD, BMGF and IWWAGE
The continuing attention to gaps in women’s economic empowerment and declining LFP in India has opened up both persistent and newer barriers (and enablers) to women’s economic participation, agency, and decision-making vis-à-vis markets, states, households and communities. A wide range of investigations have been looking beyond questions of restrictive cultural norms to look at measurement of women’s work; labor market discrimination; non-sharing of domestic chores; forms of women’s unpaid work; lack of suitable jobs; low human capital investment including education and skilling; fertility; education and so on. Discussions around macroeconomic policies, trade regimes, low social protection especially for informal sector workers, and decreased expenditure on health care are often left out of the framing of women’s economic empowerment. Discussions on power that are core to the very idea of empowerment are also sometimes missing in more recent work rooted in behavioral economics. Women’s collective solidarity economies receive little mention in favor of large technocratic platform economies. We also see that globally the discourse around women’s economic empowerment has been expanding: the discourse around the world of work for women has been transforming thanks to the future of work discussions, the ILO’s widening the definition of ‘work’ to include women’s unpaid work, the ILO’s resolution on violence and work that goes beyond sexual harassment. More recently, looking at SHG programs through the lens of labor has also begun to bring newer theoretical and conceptual possibilities. This roundtable seeks to bring experts together to re-invigorate discussions on women’s economic empowerment in India and shape a research and policy agenda. These could include bringing together and synergies around macro, LFP, and empowerment and violence literatures, connecting across breaches in the WEE literature – such as market-based, labor-based, and norms-based approaches, and exploring where we need new and/or deeper theorizing for WEE in India.
Report_Rethinking the Discourse on Women’s Economic Empowerment
IWWAGE is hosting a seminar on (In)Visibility, Care and Cultural Barriers: The Size and Shape of Women’s Work in India, by Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics, Ashoka University.
The talk will focus on the reasons underlying low labour force participation of women in India based on a recent study. The study discusses the interlinked complexities of women’s choice, constraints posed by domestic work and care responsibilities, and the predominant understanding of cultural norms as factors explaining the low labour force participation as measured by involvement in paid work.It addresses aspects of mis-measurement of women’s work due to the fuzziness of boundaries between domestic work and unpaid (and therefore invisible) economic work. The study also highlights the extent of women’s unmet demands for work.
(In)Visibility, Care and Cultural Barriers: The Size and Shape of Women’s Work in India_Ashwini Deshpande
Home Production, Technology and Women’s Time Allocation in India
Dr Farzana Afridi, Associate Professor, Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute
The talk focused on documenting trends in women’s time allocation between market, home production and leisure. It highlighted the possible role of technology in reducing the time allocated to domestic work by women and potentially improving their health.
The discussion was held on May 17, 2019 in New Delhi.
December 7-9, 2019
Panel title: Women in rural labourforce: Factors influencing non-agricultural engagement of women workers
Panel abstract: Labourforce statistics in India clearly show that women’s work in rural areas remain concentrated in petty activities in the secondary and service sectors that are usually low paid, low-value added and do not have much potential for intersectoral and vertical mobilities. The existing opportunities are either unremunerative and does not meet women’s expected working conditions and returns from labour or are those that require training, education and skills that are not imparted efficiently for engaging women or those that are determined by the women’s social identities. The thrust towards use of advanced technology has also ushered in a different regime of work for women alongside the traditional methods of organisation of work, for instance in the emerging ‘gig work’ or increasing use of digital platforms for women’s economic collectives or facilitating financial inclusion of women and so on. This panel proposes to deliberate and discuss on these several aspects of ‘what works’ to reverse such declines in women’s engagement; importance of education, skill and training; role of social identities; use of technology and macroeconomic factors influencing economic opportunities for women.
Panelists: Atul Sood (JNU), Anjana Thampi (IWWAGE), Dipa Sinha (AUD), Nitya (SEWA), Ruchika Chaudhary (IWWAGE)
Discussant: Amit Basole, Centre for sustainable Employment, APU and Uma Rani, ILO
Moderator: Sona Mitra, IWWAGE
Panel title: Importance of creches for women’s economic participation
Panel abstract: Barriers to maternal employment or unpaid care work for women is an important area of research to engage effectively in the productive economic activities and thus forms an important labour right for women. Evidence around women’s unpaid work constitute almost 65% of all work performed by women, 10-12% of which include taking care of children and family members. It is in this context that the models of quality centre-based childcare and its impact on maternal employment has shown effective results for Nordic countries and also in certain Latin American countries (in studies conducted by IWWAGE) which have replicable practices for developing economies. In India, the discourse around creches has remained stunted at the level of providing such facilities at worksites. This panel attempts to present evidence on the positive impact of centre-based childcare on women’s engagement in economic activities across the world as well as in the local context, potentials of centre-based childcare to reduce women’s time for care activities as well as improve earning abilities of women with such systematic and quality support in childcare. The objective of the panel is to strengthen evidence around this topic to be able to reinforce the rights-based discourse around women’s fundamental labour right of being economically active.
Panelists: Anoushaka Chandrasekhar, IFMR LEAD; Monika Banerjee (ISST), Sudeshna Sengupta (formerly Mobile creches)
Discussants: Susan Thomas (SEWA)
Moderator: Kanika Jha Kingra (IWWAGE)
IWWAGE participated in the ‘What Works Global Summit held in Mexico City, 14-18 October, 2019.
The panel on ‘Importance of evidence creation in women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in India’ proposed by IWWAGE was moderated by Yamini Atmavilas of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The panel focussed on WEE as a major policy concern in India. The panellists presented data and evidence to action initiatives operating at the national and sub-national levels of governance in India.
Madhuparna Joshi from C3 leading the IWW-Bihar work, highlighted the mechanisms such as creating state report cards and a dashboard to help fill in evidence gaps that informed policies focussed to enhance women’s safety and mobility in the state of Bihar. Sona Mitra from IWWAGE at LEAD, Krea University presented a synthesis of their work with the government focussing on creating evidence for actionable policies to – reduce the burden of women’s unpaid work, improve the quality of work for women and the challenges and mechanisms of working with the government in India. Soledad Prillaman from Stanford University, presented her findings on an evaluative evidence building of the forward linkages of the skilling program in the state of Odisha and provided insights on strengthening those in order to achieve success in the skilling initiatives for young girls. The participation in the session was encouraging with a vibrant discussion that followed the presentations. Ms. Atmavilas summed up the discussions through her final comments focussing on the need for more such evaluative evidence building that would inform future policy initiatives for WEE.
Participation at the workshop titled “Formalisation, Informalisation and the Labour Process”, at the University of Göttingen, Germany
Dr Ruchika Chaudhary (Senior Research Fellow), and Dr Sona Mitra (Principal Economist) at Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) at LEAD, attended a stimulating workshop, “Formalisation, Informalisation and the Labour Process“, organised by the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany, during 20-22 November, 2019.
They presented a paper entitled, “Labour practises in the emerging gig economy in India: A case study of UrbanClap”. India has seen the emergence of the gig/platform economy, fuelled by technological advancements, and mobile application based (app-based) business models are thriving in the country. As a result, new non-standard forms of work are evolving, and thereby blurring the classical production boundaries, and changing the standard employer-employee relationship. Their paper unpacks these changes and put forth some of the explanations for the changing labour practices, commodification of labour and increased informalisation in the rapidly emerging gig economy of India, by focusing on female beauty and salon service providers of UrbanClap (known service platform), in Delhi and Mumbai. The study was supported by Asia Foundation.
Labour Practises in the emerging gig economy in India_A case study of Urban Clap_Ruchika Chaudhary and Sona Mitra
Organised by The NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC) and Institute for Financial Management Research-India Initiative for What Works (IFMR-IIWW)
NDIC and IFMR-IIWW jointly organised an initiative, Kathopakathan (conversation) on Women’s Economic Empowerment in New Delhi, attended by representatives from the spheres of research, policymaking, and data collection. The discussions at the Kathopakathan event are part of a series of activities to be undertaken by NCAER-NDIC for building research capacity, and promoting innovation and excellence in data collection in the country. The interactive sessions at the event revolved around two themes surrounding women’s economic empowerment –
How can policy opportunities enhance women’s economic empowerment through participation in the workforce by countering the constraints faced by them in the labour market?
Should the nature of data collection change given the evolving nature of work and contextual factors that influence such activities, especially since the available data sets on women’s economic participation like the NSS have apparently not kept pace with far-reaching changes in labour markets?
“What will work? Empowering women economically” presented by Farzana Afridi, Associate Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, and Research Fellow, IZA
Ramesh Sinha is the Team Lead at IWWAGE for Chhattisgarh project. He has more than 15 years of experience in project management, Government liasoning and partnership, corporate social responsibility, business development, social mobilisation and community institutional development, skill development, micro enterprise, and livelihoods.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, Ramesh has also contributed to assignments for Tata Steel Society for Rural Development, Usha Martin, Tata Refectory, Ambuja Cement and L&T Cement. Ramesh has completed his MBA (Rural Management) from Xavier Institute Social Service, Ranchi
Atiya Anis is a Communication Manager with IWWAGE. She supports IWWAGE in developing and implementing the program’s communication strategy, enhancing its visibility, and spearheads the dissemination of outputs and manage other communication work.
Atiya has over a decade of experience across sectors, such as WASH, health, and environment and biodiversity conservation. Atiya has led communications for organizations like The Union, BBC Media Action, GIZ, UNICEF and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, where she supported the development and implementation of effective strategies, behavior change communication initiatives, and campaigns. Her responsibilities also included strengthening brand reputation, enhancing outreach, digital media engagement and developing multi-channel communication products for diverse audiences.
Atiya holds a Master’s degree in Journalism and Public Administration from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.
Kaliat Ammu Sanyal is a Research Manager with IWWAGE. She has extensive experience conducting research for development outcomes across India and the United Kingdom. Her areas of expertise and interest include rural development, collective action, social accountability, urban sociology and values based approaches.
Ammu has a cross section of experience in methodology design, research, implementation and strategic planning. She was worked with national and international organisations developing and implementing large scale development projects.
With a focus on research, application and evaluation Ammu has conducted research for the Values and Sustainability Research Group at The University of Brighton, The London International Development Centre, Participatory Research in Asia, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, INTACH and UNICEF among others. She is a founding member of the Portal for Shared Values, based at the University of Brighton.
Ammu holds a double Masters, the first in the Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation form the University of Sussex and the second in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics.
Impact of World Bank’s Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) on the socio-economic status of young African Women
Shubha Chakravarty, Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Practice in South Asia
Young women are a key demographic with the potential to transform gender relations and contribute to economic growth and development. Many programs in low-income countries offer evidence to economically empower young women, however, the scale of these are often limited. In this context, the talk highlighted evidence from a set of World Bank-supported projects in seven low-income countries in Africa under the Adolescent Girls Initiative for scaling up of women’s empowerment programs and the consequent socio-economic impact. The talk put light on competing models and the “best practice” for young women’s economic empowerment, and scaling up of similar programs in India and West Africa.
The discussion was held on October 30, 2019 in New Delhi.
The Adolescent Girls Initiative 2008-14 Global Results
Ankita has joined IWWAGE as a consultant. She holds a Post Graduate degree in Robotics and Automation Engineering from IGDTUW, Delhi. She has a Bachelors degree in Technology from MDU, Rohtak. She has worked as a Junior Research Fellow on a project of AIIMS funded by DST for a year. Currently, she is working on NRLM and women’s economic collectives work, where is engages with the Ministry of Rural Development and Civil Society Organizations partners. She aspires to work on Gender equality and Women Entreprenuership.
As the Head of IWWAGE, New Delhi, India, Ms. Soumya Kapoor Mehta leads IWWAGE’s efforts to generate, leverage, and synthesize evidence on women’s economic empowerment.
Soumya has an experience of nearly 18 years in the development sector, spanning research around gender, women’s empowerment, poverty reduction strategies, social inclusion challenges and policy levers to alleviate them around the world.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, she was working as an independent policy advisor for the World Bank, UNICEF, the Government of India, the Centre for Policy Research and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), helping these institutions mainstream inclusion and gender issues in their research and projects ranging from investments in women’s collectives (NRLM), to sectors such as water, agriculture, infrastructure, urban development and environment and climate change. She has co-authored several World Bank and UNICEF research outputs, including some of their flagship reports and has two widely acclaimed books to her credit. Between 2003 and 2009, she worked as full time staff for the World Bank anchoring a large cross-country study on poverty and strategies to reduce it.
Soumya has a Tripos Degree from the University of Cambridge in Economics and a B.A. (Hons.) in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. She has also been a Visiting Fellow to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Senior Program Manager
Divya Hariharan is a Program Manager at IWWAGE, and is currently engaged in IWWAGE’s research and evidence generation activities. Her areas of expertise and interest include gender, social inclusion and accountability, and governance.
She has a blended experience of implementation, program management, strategic consulting, and research. She has played multidimensional roles across different organizations with varied mandates and priorities. She has supported in the designing, implementation, and evaluation of projects, and has worked with government and non-government (CSO, private sector stakeholders, and donors) stakeholders.
She has also worked in particularly challenging contexts across India on projects supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department of International Development, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and UNICEF among others.
Divya has a Master’s degree in Gender from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Flawless in administrative skills, Preeti is passionate towards the admin work she is doing. She has robust experience in administration and office management. Prior to moving to IWWAGE, Preeti worked as an Administration Manager with Catalyst, a project of IFMR LEAD.
She has worked with FHI 360 for a decade in various capacities including Admin Officer and Senior Admin Assistant. She has great counseling skills.
Preeti has an Economics degree from Delhi University, Diploma in Office Management from YMCA, and Operational Management Diploma from MIT.
Senior Research fellow
Ruchika Chaudhary is an economist with over eight years of experience at the national as well as the international levels. She has worked extensively on the issues of labour and employment and specifically in the areas of gender equality and non-discrimination in Asia and the Pacific. She specializes in large-dataset and micro-dataset management, econometric analysis and modelling. She has a doctorate in Economics from the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her doctoral thesis explored the complex issue of women’s work in India, in which their labour force participation behavior was examined. This included interviewing and elaborated analysis of domestic workers, as an important group of urban women workers.
Before joining IWWAGE, Ruchika has worked with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Regional office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, and ILO’s Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India, New Delhi. She has also worked for the University of Manchester’s research project on ‘Use of Blockchain in ending Child labour’, taught undergraduate courses on economics at the University of Delhi, and conducted research on ‘urban poverty’ at the Institute of Economic Growth, and the National Institute of Urban Affairs. She has been awarded University Grants Commission’s Junior Research Fellowship in Economics. She has published her research in journals, edited books, and participated in various national and international forums.
Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager
Kanika is a Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager at IWWAGE and is responsible for developing and implementing the organisation’s advocacy strategy to promote evidence-informed decision making on women’s economic empowerment.
Kanika has over six years of experience in developing and implementing research uptake and communication strategies in international development. She has worked on developing tools and processes for monitoring and measuring evidence impact of policy-relevant studies. She has worked at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), where she synthesized and communicated evidence to policymakers, programme implementers, civil society and other stakeholders on issues specific to women’s economic and social empowerment, social protection, humanitarian assistance, transparency and accountability in natural resource governance, public finance and urban development.
Kanika holds an MSc in Media, Communication and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Journalism from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.
Hiya Singh Rajput is a Research Assistant at IWWAGE. She is an Economics graduate from Miranda House, University of Delhi and a post graduate in Economics from Ambedkar University Delhi. She engaged with several government and non-government organisations such as An-gawadi, Girl Rising India, Delhi Queer Pride, The WordsWorth Project and the Enabling Society at Miranda House. She is especially interested in the issues of gender and sexuality. Her long term goal is to work as an economist and policy analyst after completing her post-doctoral stud-ies.
Anjana Thampi is a Research Fellow at IWWAGE, and works with the Research and Analysis team. She is a development economist motivated to understand the problems of unemployment, women’s under-representation in the labour market, and market and non-market forms of discrimination and exclusion. Her areas of interest include gender, employment, food security and inequality.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, she has worked at the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. She has done her PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her doctoral thesis assessed whether food provisioning programmes have mitigated the mismatch between economic growth and nutritional indicators in India, and explored the impact of two such programmes on child nutrition and inequality. She has experience in applying statistical tools to large datasets. She has also worked and published on the high and rising levels of wealth inequality in India, and contributes opinion pieces on contemporary issues.
State Program Manager, Chhattisgarh
Sadashiv is a development practitioner with over eight years of experience across sectors like rural development, education, and livelihood. He is currently based in Raipur and is managing multiple IWWAGE projects across Chhattisgarh. He possesses extensive experience in government consulting, community engagement, and translating policy to action.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, Sadashiv was a Fellow with the Indian government’s Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Program, and has worked in Kashmir for five years as a consultant to the government and other non-profit organizations. He has worked towards enhancing learning outcomes in government schools, expanding self-employment avenues of self-help groups, and increasing participatory planning of flagship social welfare schemes. He has also worked as a consultant at Deloitte US-India.
Sadashiv hails from Kerala and has a Master’s degree in Development Practice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and a Bachelor’s in Engineering. In his spare time, you will find him trekking or trying out new cuisines.
Neeraj Upadhyay is working as a Business Manager at IWWAGE. He is a result oriented professional with 10 years of experience in Project Management, Partner Management, Grant Management, Donor Management, and Administration.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, he has worked with some renowned international and national development sector institutions such as Learning Links Foundation (LLF), CARE India, Action contre la Faim (ACF, Paris), and World Health Organization (WHO), where he managed many international funding agencies including BMGF, USAID, UNICEF, and FHI 360, as well as corporate donors such as Dell, Ashok Leyland, Cargill, and GSK. He has completed his Master’s degree in Project Management.
Neelakshi Mann is an Associate Director with IWWAGE at IFMR-LEAD. She leads IWWAGE’s work on women’s economic collectives with the National Rural Livelihood Mission and other partners. She has over 15 years of experience in the development sector. Prior to this, she worked with the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust on achieving gender equitable empowerment through women self-help groups. She was also an adviser to the Minister of Rural Development, Government of India on rural development programs, including MGNREGA — the world’s biggest workfare scheme. With an expertise in the field of public policy monitoring and evaluation, she designed the Ministry’s first independent evaluation structure for its programs. Following that, she worked with USAID, where she helped develop a results and monitoring framework and indicators for India, in its role as a strategic partner under the Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative of the Obama Administration. She has also worked with the Academy for Education Development (AED) in Washington DC to provide support for a project on human trafficking in South Asia.
She has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Delhi. She co-authored MGNREGA Sameeksha: An Anthology of Research Studies, 2012.
Sona has been working in the area of women and development for the last one and a half decades. Her core research interests are in areas related to women’s economic empowerment. She has looked extensively into the causalities of low work participation rates of women in India within a political economy framework and has studied in great detail the gender gaps in the existing labour-force surveys conducted by the Government of India.
Sona completed her masters and PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her doctoral thesis looked at the relationship between macro-economic growth and women’s employment in India since the 1990s.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, Sona has worked with the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), National Institute for Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), and Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS). She has been an independent consultant with UN agencies working on women’s empowerment and has been a technical adviser to studies conducted by the Action-Aid, UN Women (India), and ICRW. She also teaches a course on Labour and Development under the Master’s in Economics program at Ambedkar University, Delhi, and regularly publishes articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books, and opinion pieces in leading newspapers and magazines.
As the Executive Director for IWWAGE, New Delhi, India, Dr. Madhuri Mukherjee leads IWWAGE’s efforts to generate, leverage, and synthesize evidence on women’s economic empowerment.
Madhuri has more than two decades of experience in the development sector, spanning areas such as research, program implementation and management, policy advocacy, and developing technical frameworks for implementation, in India and South Asia, focusing primarily around gender issues.
She has worked extensively with a wide range of donors including Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), DFID, UNICEF, National Commission for Women, and the Government of India.
Prior to joining IWWAGE, she was the country representative for UW International Training and Education Centre for Health, an affiliated partner organization of the University of Washington, Seattle and was responsible for setting up of the India office and expansion of interventions across the country.
Madhuri has held diverse positions with organizations such as Oxfam GB, Young Lives-Save the Children UK, ChildFund India, and Room to Read – Asia Regional Office.
She has a doctorate in Development Communication from the Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia and holds a Master’s degree in Sociology. She is also a UGC-NET Fellow.
IFMR LEAD is a non-profit research organization based in India conducting high-quality scalable action research and outreach in development economics and finance.
They specialize in conducting policy-and action-oriented research by partnering with influential stakeholders to inform policy-making debates. IFMR LEAD collaborates with leading professors and economists, development specialists, and industry experts on research design and implementation, and data analysis and dissemination.
Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) aims to empower women and their environment so that they may live a better life with equal opportunities.
The body works on creating a violence-and discrimination-free environments, while helping women contribute as equal partners in social and economic development.
IWWAGE is partnering with MoWCD to undertake an assessment of Women’s Helpline ‘181’.
National Rural Livelihood Mission is a poverty alleviation project implemented by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. This scheme is focused on promoting self-employment and organization of rural poor.
Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) is the nodal agency and prime mover for propelling IT growth and implementation of the IT and e-Governance projects in the State of Chhattisgarh.
Project Concern International (PCI) has been working in India since 1998. It maintains a diverse portfolio, working in both rural and urban settings in the areas of integrated health and community development with programs focusing on low-income, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach populations, especially women of reproductive age and children.
Area Networking and Development Initiatives (ANANDI), has been working with over 10,000 rural poor women from four districts of Gujarat since 1995. Forming women’s collectives and working towards changing the nature and direction of systemic forces which marginalize women has been an integral component of ANANDI’s work in Gujarat.
The Government of India established the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) to implement the new strategy of poverty alleviation woven around community-based institutions. The Mission’s primary objective is to reduce poverty by promoting diversified and gainful self-employment and wage employment opportunities for sustainable increase in incomes.
Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) aims to empower women and their environment so that they may live a better life with equal opportunities.
IWWAGE is partnering with MoWCD to undertake an assessment of Women’s Helpline ‘181’.
Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Delhi is a public university that gained the status of Institution of National Importance by an act of the Indian Parliament. It aims to promote knowledge and use statistics for national and social-welfare planning.
ISI, in partnership with IWWAGE, conducts micro-economic analyses across different sectors — including agriculture and manufacturing — to gauge the decline in women’s workforce participation.
EPoD (Evidence for Policy Design) India at IFMR, a joint program by EPoD at Harvard Kennedy School and IFMR, engages with policymakers and practitioners to design, evaluate, and re-design policies to better serve the poor and other vulnerable groups.
EPoD also undertakes policy research with IWWAGE in Orissa, India to support SHGs in mobilizing women to take up skilled employment through NRLM.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. BMGF aims to aid every person to get the chance to live a healthy, productive life.