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Kathopakathan Conversation about Women
Kathopakathan Conversation about Women's Economic Empowerment

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

Gender Unpaid Work and Care
Gender, Unpaid Work and Care: Towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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

Women Work and Migration in India
Women, Work and Migration in India: Towards Collaborative and Strategic Advocacy
Contours of Women’s Work in India in the Current Economic Conditions
22-24 August, 2019
Organised by:  SEWA-GAATW-MAKAAM
IWWAGE participated as a presenter at the two and half-day workshop in Hyderabad with organisations working with women migrant workers, academicians, researchers and the ILO. The discussions pertained to issues emerging from distress migration of women, the source-destination of migration and the current status of the economy and its impact on women’s migration patterns.
Evidence Creation in Women’s Economic Empowerment
Importance of Evidence Creation in Women’s Economic Empowerment

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.

Formalisation, Informalisation and the Labour Process
Formalisation, Informalisation and the Labour Process

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

Deepening Voice and Visibility
Deepening Voice and Visibility for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

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[1], 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.

Importance of creches for women’s economic participation
61st Labour Economics Conference, Patiala, India

December 7-9, 2019

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)

Women in rural labourforce
61st Labour Economics Conference, Patiala, India

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

Rethinking the Discourse on Women’s Economic Empowerment
61st Labour Economics Conference, Patiala, India

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

Policymaking for Rural Transformation
Evidence-based Policymaking for Rural Transformation

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).