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Capturing Quality of Women’s Work: Going beyond FLFPR

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel, was awarded to Claudia Goldin, professor of economics at Harvard University, on October 9th 2023 for ‘having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes’. The recognition of Claudia Goldin’s work is expected to strengthen the discourse around gender inequalities in the Indian labour market too. Although Goldin’s work majorly focuses on high income economies, it holds important insights for the gender differences in labour market returns in India. Her work underscores the need for data collection and evidence generation on identity-based differences in labour market outcomes and critiques identity-insensitive policy-making. Using PLFS 2021-22 data, this blog explores the nature and quality of work that women in India are engaged in and how it is influenced by demographic and socio-economic factors.

In India, along with the low female workforce participation rate at 25% (PLFS 2021-22), another major concern is women’s engagement in job opportunities of poor quality in terms of wages and other benefits. A striking feature of the Indian labour market is the overwhelming presence of women engaged as unpaid family workers. According to Periodic Labour Force Survey 2021-22, 37% (all India) of total employed women are working as unpaid family workers and this percentage rises up to 43% in case of rural women. Unpaid family workers are those who are working without any pay or profit in a family operated farm or a business owned by any household member with whom the person is related by kinship/marriage/adoption etc. The unpaid family workers are considered to be part of the labour force and their contribution gets counted in national income, but their work doesn’t get remunerated and the profit belongs to the owner of the family business. The worker engages and contributes to the business considering it a part of household responsibility/obligation. Thus, in spite of being a part of the workforce, this form of engagement isn’t expected to lead to financial empowerment due to the absence of remuneration unlike the mainstream labour market activities. This non-monetized nature of the activities of unpaid family workers leads to lack of recognition of women’s work and women’s agency and often leads to underreporting of women’s work. Thus, understanding the factors influencing women’s decision to work as unpaid workers in family businesses and hindering them from entering paid work opportunities is imperative to enable informed policy-making for ensuring remunerative engagement of these women.


Women’s engagement as unpaid family workers is concentrated in agriculture and related activities, as 89% of them are in these farm-related activities. However, women’s participation as unpaid family workers differs by demographic variables like age-group, education level, skill training, care responsibilities and also characteristics of the households. The share of working women engaged as unpaid family helpers is much higher at 47% among those aged between 15-25 years, as compared to 34-38% among the older age-cohorts. This reflects that social norms are more restrictive for younger women when it comes to working outside the family. The education level also influences women’s working status. The share of working women engaged in unpaid family business is highest at 42% among those who are illiterate. Although, the share goes down with rise in education level, a share as high as 37% of working women with middle to higher-secondary level of education and 13% of working women with as highly qualified as graduates, post-graduates and above, are engaged as unpaid helpers in family businesses. This fact points towards the lack of paid job opportunities for those with mid to high-levels of education, along with constraining social norms. The PLFS data however indicates that those who received formal vocational training are less likely to work as unpaid family workers and tend to engage in remunerative engagements. This is indicated by the share of working women with formal vocational training engaged as unpaid family workers which is 10%,  much lower than others.

Along with these characteristics, women’s care responsibilities also influence their decision to work inside or outside their homes. The PLFS 2021-22 shows that the share of working women engaged in family businesses as unpaid helpers is 45% for those with children aged below 5 years, whereas the share is much lower at 34% for others. Additionally, as the household’s income rises, the likelihood of women being engaged as unpaid helpers in family businesses declines. According to the PLFS 2021-22, the share of working women engaged as unpaid family workers is 44% in the lowest income class and the share declines to 26% for those women belonging to the uppermost income class. This is evidently due to the inability of poorer households to hire paid workers from outside and instead have to engage household members in their family businesses.

As the factors leading to women’s engagement in these non-remunerative activities are many, including restrictive social norms, lack of job opportunities, lack of skills, care responsibilities etc, a multifaceted approach is needed to shift these women to remunerative opportunities. As the data indicate that vocational training is effective to ensure women’s remunerative engagements, raising awareness among women about these programmes, strengthening the existing programmes for higher outreach, skill training of women for the emerging non-traditional sectors, would be impactful policy measures. The availability of job opportunities for highly skilled and qualified women in the non-farm sector would also encourage women to take up these remunerative opportunities instead of working as unpaid family workers. Thus, creation of good quality job opportunities in the secondary and tertiary sectors and women-friendly work environment would be needed to address these concerns. As childcare responsibilities often act as a constraint for women to work outside their homes, state provisioning of childcare facilities would free up women’s time for commitments beyond the domestic sphere. Above all, making women aware of the implications of economic empowerment for their agency is of utmost importance for encouraging them to taking up remunerative engagements.


The blog is authored  by Dr. Bidisha Mondal, Research Fellow, IWWAGE

Radha Executive Director

Executive Director, IWWAGE

Radha is a qualified senior level professional having more than three decades of expertise in the development and humanitarian sector—in operations, management and programmes. She has worked in South Asia, particularly in India and Nepal, with multiple stakeholders including governments, UN agencies, INGOs and civil society organizations. Prior to joining IWWAGE, she has held diverse senior level positions including representative positions in the United Nations.

Her thematic excellence lies on gender equality and inclusion, women empowerment, gender based violence, emergencies, social protection, livelihood and skill building, environment and climate, and migration.

Achieving Gender Equality in STEM: Towards an Inclusive and Diverse Ecosystem

The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, referred together as STEM, are crucial to a nation’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. Prioritizing STEM education can lead to creation of new technologies and industries, sustainable solutions to climate challenges and greater participation in the global economy. As STEM fields have been historically dominated by men, promoting gender diversity holds the key to creativity, innovation, and harnessing the full potential of the human capital of an economy. This blog delves into the present trends of women’s participation in the STEM sector and how it can be improved.
According to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), the number of STEM jobs in India is expected to reach 100 million by 2025. This represents an increase of over 50% from the current 63 million jobs in the STEM sector. Research also suggests that women in India who take up science are more likely to be employed and earn about 28% more than women who study non-technical subjects. This makes it imperative that India focuses on achieving gender parity within STEM and creates an enabling ecosystem for more women to join STEM.
The AISHE 2020-21 reports that though the overall enrolment of women in education has increased, over the past few years, women’s enrolment rates across STEM courses at the undergraduate level has increased only marginally. Overall trends in STEM specifically, including undergraduate, postgraduate, M.Phil and PhD courses, indicate that women form about only 43.2% of the sample. B.Tech and B.E programmes have only 28.7% and 28.5% women respectively.
The promising figures of women obtaining STEM education does not get translated into the workforce. India sees the lowest participation of women in STEM globally at 26% of the STEM workforce. Indian women make up for only 13.9% of the researchers globally. Less than 5% of academic department chairs are women, who make up only 9% of fellows in the three Indian science academies (INSA, IASc, and NASI). This trend shows a huge drop off from education to joining the workforce, indicating that women face constant barriers while navigating employment in STEM.
The pipeline for women in STEM leadership roles starts wide at the time of education but narrows considerably as one moves upwards, resembling a leaky funnel that drains their talent and expertise from the system. Many factors contribute to women dropping out of the leaky pipeline of STEM. One major factor is the gendering of science and technology, which makes these fields deem suitable only for men. Boys and girls are socialised into traditional gender roles from a young age, which influences their career choices. Starting in school, children are exposed to traditionalist views on gender through curriculum design, classroom behaviour, and other interactions.
Even within STEM, the proportion of women students is not evenly distributed. Women’s enrolment in some prestigious science subjects, such as chemistry (42%), physics (38%), and engineering (32%), remains relatively low. AISHE 2020-21 shows that in the UG level there are only 6.68% women students in mechanical engineering and 23% in civil engineering. However, other fields, like life sciences (56%), microbiology (67%), and information technology/computer sciences (54%), witness higher enrolment of women, as per data from the Ministry of Education (in 2020).
These trends result in women finding themselves devoid of networking opportunities within the STEM workforce. It has often been reported that STEM workplaces and schools are often dominated by “boys’ clubs,” which are groups of men that systematically exclude women. This makes it difficult for women to feel supported within STEM fields, and many women choose not to pursue STEM careers as a result. This further leads to the persistence of a ‘glass ceiling’ perpetuated by social biases, traditionalist views of gender roles and prejudiced behaviour that exclude and discriminate against women. Encouragingly, issues like salary gaps and overt gender discrimination in India are improving, but deep-rooted social norms and biases continue to hinder progress for women especially in leadership roles.
Such an ecosystem deters women’s entry and growth in STEM fields. Overrepresentation of men prevents growth of women into leadership positions, denying early-career professionals of leaders to mentor and sponsor them. As decision-makers are mostly men, workplaces are structured to disfavour women with inflexible working hours, infrastructure, lack of childcare support, etc. Additionally, women are required to balance household responsibilities along with work responsibilities.
To address these gaps the Government of India has implemented a number of initiatives to promote women in STEM. Initiatives like the supernumerary scheme have added more seats for women in IITs. Such a scheme for private institutions can go a long way in bringing more women into STEM and creating gender parity across STEM streams. Further, the Department of Science and Technology’s Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions charter (GATI) aims to establish gender equality practices at the institutional level through sensitisation and awareness generation in STEM institutions. The KIRAN initiative is aimed at inducting more women talent in the research & development domain through various programmes. Furthermore, the mobility Scheme of the Department of Science and Technology supports women scientists in relocation due to spouse transfers, caregiving, or children’s education in different cities.
These initiatives have been successful in increasing women’s participation in STEM, but they fall short on tackling existing biases. We need school curriculums that do not conform to traditional gender roles in labour. Additionally, schools can make an active effort to introduce gender-equity within the curriculum so that young girls are better equipped to navigate gendered ecosystems. Such early-stage initiatives should be complemented with mentoring and sponsorship initiatives at the workplace that will support women’s growth.
Another challenge for India is the lack of gender-disaggregated data on women’s participation in the sector. While the data for educational institutions and public employment in STEM is available, the private sector lags behind in reporting gender disaggregated data. Availability of such data can be beneficial in promoting women’s participation in the private sector and also enable state and union governments to promote women’s participation and education in a transparent and efficient manner.
Considering the significant impact of science and technology on economic growth, it is essential to implement more strategies that promote and retain women in STEM fields. Gender diversity in STEM has a profound impact on developing nations by driving economic growth, technological advancement, and societal well-being. Through an emphasis on investing in promoting women’s participation in STEM education, countries can capitalise on their human capital, foster innovation, and address global challenges.

The blog is authored by Sayak Sinha, Policy Manager, IWWAGE

Moving Towards Gender Equitable Public Transport Operations in a Post-COVID World

Moving Towards Gender Equitable Public Transport Operations in a Post-COVID World


Sonal Shah, the Founder of The Urban Catalysts and Executive Director of the Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities, joined us for our seminar series on 21st September 2023 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the mobility of women workers in the informal sector.

Shah presented an interesting study conducted by their organization in 2021 which is titled as “Moving Towards Gender Equitable Public Transport Operations in a Post-COVID World.” The key points of the discussion are given below.

She laid down the context of the study by highlighting the impact of the pandemic on women which is as follows:

  • Fall in income
  • Increase in care work in household
  • Increase in domestic violence

The study aimed to-

  • To provide evidence and fast-track knowledge uptake to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on resource-poor women’s mobility
  • To inform policy guidance and response by low and lower-middle countries in addressing gender equity, safety, and personal security in public transport
  • To deep-dive in Delhi with learnings for cities in South Asia



Methodology Adopted in their study

  • Rapid literature review: They studied the impact of COVID-19 in selected cities – Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi, Kathmandu
  • Roundtable: They compared similarities in the impact of COVID on the mobility of women workers in the informal sector across cities
  • Key Informant Interviews: They talked to transport experts from the government, multi-lateral development banks, think tanks, etc.
  • Primary survey: They conducted with 800 women workers across different settlements in Delhi
  • Lastly, they disseminated the recommendations to key informants and roundtable participants

The primary survey of the study identified resource-poor women (RPW) in Delhi. Their profile was as follows:

  • 65 percent of RPW did not receive any formal education;
  • Only 10 percent have access to smartphones;
  • 84 percent of RPW do not own a vehicle

The findings highlighted by Sonal in their study are as follows:

  1. About 79 percent of RPW did not work in the 68 days of lockdown and lost an estimated INR 754 crores across Delhi; RPW travelled 20 percent less as compared to pre-COVID times; shared paratransit (IPT) is the next preferred mode of transport because of less waiting time.
  2. Concerns while traveling: Reserved seats were not enforced in the bus; the driver did not stop the bus for women passengers due to free service; rash driving and over-crowding in IPT.
  3. Women e-rickshaw drivers suffer a loss of INR 5000 due to safety, household, and care taxes. They operated in routes closer to their homes and earned lower revenues than men.

The recommendations disseminated by them to the roundtable participants and technical experts to complete the loop are as follows:

  1. A model that subsidizes the purchase of commercial assets and provides support from membership organizations.
  2. Creation of a mechanism for complaint that is not necessarily based on smartphones. Having coordinated responses to complaints across different modes of transport at the command-and-control centre set up by the transport department.
  3. Need for multi-modal subsidy for RPW
  4. Increase electric vehicle adoption amongst RPW, reservation of parking spaces at metro stations, and waive parking fees for women e-rickshaw drivers.

Watch the recording here

The International Day of Care and Support

The International Day of Care and Support: an opportunity to acknowledge and bolster care’s power to foster inclusive development

Satellites are launched into the cosmos, vaccines are engineered in record time and food supplies are produced to propel our societies forward. Investments in “human capital” are channelled to boost the production of these and other things considered valuable for promoting development. Yet the link between economic progress and people’s overall well-being seems to be broken. In 2022, the Human Development Index witnessed its second consecutive decline, as some countries continue to grapple with economic challenges following the pandemic. Care, often undervalued and underprioritized, holds a critical role in reversing this trajectory.

Care work encompasses an array of services and activities that individuals and societies undertake to nurture, preserve, and restore human capabilities. People are not born with the inherent knowledge to construct satellites, create vaccines or produce food, nor are they born knowing how to transform all these resources into well-being. The capabilities to develop fulfilling lives and prosperous societies are also acquired and accumulated. Nurturance, social connections, shelter, emotional support and family assistance, among others core elements of care, provide the enabling environment for a productive society. In other words, care work sustains our societies while being the enabling force behind all other productive endeavours.

At some point in our lives, we all require care, especially during childhood, at later ages or when people experience illnesses or live with disabilities. The lion’s share of care work responsibilities predominantly rests within households, where it is mostly conducted by women and girls. This unequal gender distribution of care work affects women’s economic outcomes and autonomy, personal development and well-being and fuels many gender gaps in today’s society.

Recognising care work’s value demands rethinking the political and economic system by putting people at the centre and acknowledging the interdependence of all living beings. A shared responsibility between governments, the private sector, communities and families is essential to tackle this challenge, meeting care needs in a sustainable and equitable way for the wellbeing of both humanity and the planet.

Even following standard economic indicators, the benefits of building a caring society become evident. Implementing universal childcare and long-term care services worldwide, as proposed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), could potentially create nearly 300 million jobs by 2035. In addition, care policies would bolster tax revenues, economic growth, and productivity, all while promoting gender equality. A safe and affordable care system can empower caregivers, particularly women, to enhance their workforce participation, securing better livelihoods for themselves and their families. Investment in childcare is especially significant due to its profound impact on children’s development and rights.

The International Day of Care and Support offers an occasion to reflect on the prevailing situation and present evidence-based policy recommendations to value care and care workers and enhance accessible, affordable and quality care systems, placing the people both providing and receiving care at the heart of our focus.

For the last year, a group of more than 20 organisations, including think tanks, international institutions, NGOs and the private sector, from across the world have joined forces to making care a global priority. Through fostering collaboration, producing policy-relevant knowledge and coordinating outreach efforts, we have worked together to highlight the relevance of care and offer concrete policies. Our collective efforts have primarily focused on the G20 forum, advocating for a “Care 20” agenda. Below, there are a series of key recommendations we have developed in this pursuit.

Transforming the paradigm of care

Making the value of care visible and recognising its vital role in society is a first step towards advancing the well-being of people, communities and the planet. This entails recognising that households manage most of the resources that societies allocate to producing capabilities, including care, education and health goods and services provided in the monetised economy. To revolutionise the care paradigm, we propose:

1) Enhancing data and evidence: Strengthening data collection, monitoring, evaluation and technical capacity is imperative to better understand the welfare implications of care and guiding policy strategies. Data collection – periodic, intersectional and at both individual and household levels – is crucial to value care, analyse care dynamics and generate evidence on effective strategies to foster a caring society. In this way, it facilitates the identification of lessons learned and good practices.

Estimating the costs of care production from the standpoint of households and women through a Basic Care Basket (BCB) is a powerful tool to build evidence and inform policy. This indicator measures the monetary value of the resources invested by families in producing care -through goods, services and care work-, the profile of their investment and its impact on the production of capabilities.

Preliminary results from the BCB calculation for Argentina (2018-2021) indicate that 65% of households with children and adolescents were able to support the development of capabilities in terms of health, education, sociability and emotional wellbeing. On average, these families invested resources worth 3.7 times the poverty line, with over a third of these resources stemming from unpaid work, primarily provided by the women in the household. In turn, 18% of the resources mobilised by households were provided by the state through education, healthcare and direct cash transfers. The BCB, therefore, offers crucial insights to understanding families’ investment profile in care, subsequently informing decision-making for the creation of care systems.

2) Transforming social norms and roles: Encouraging changes in restrictive social norms can have an impact on care and gender roles, combatting gender stereotypes and promoting shared responsibility for care across sectors, stakeholders and amongst all adult persons, including men. The implementation of public policies and awareness campaigns can contribute to this endeavour. These actions should be underpinned by evidence production to identify what works to catalyse a transformation of existing norms.

3) Understanding care in context: Care intersects with a myriad of issues, such as the demographic transition, migration, worker’s rights, and gender-based violence. Its implications can also relate to crises related to debt, climate and humanitarian emergencies, which threaten the economy, social cohesion and prevailing development models. Although these phenomena are often addressed in isolation, their interconnection is crucial when life in its multiple dimensions is at stake. Care plays a pivotal role in addressing aging populations, migration flows, and environmental degradation. To address contemporary and future challenges, it is essential to evaluate how care needs and provision fluctuate in response to social, environmental and economic processes. Taking into account the care dimension of these multifaceted phenomena can also help to envision better solutions.

Promote investments in comprehensive, sustainable, and inclusive ecosystems of care

Comprehensive Care Systems are essential to ensure equitable access to quality and affordable care services. Public financing must be at the heart of these efforts, while governments should form meaningful partnerships with multilateral organisations, philanthropy, the private sector and civil society to build ecosystems of care to leverage resources, enhance cross-sector coordination and promote transparency and accountability.

The need for quality access to care is evident, as participation in early childhood care and education (ECEC) services is still lacking worldwide. UNICEF estimates that only 4 in 10 children aged 3 and 4 attend ECEC spaces globally, ranging from 66 per cent in Latin America, to below 50 per cent in Asia and as low as 25 per cent in Africa. While data is scarce to assess the global situation of other populations requiring care and/or support, such as the elderly or persons with disabilities, it is generally observed that these groups are disproportionately vulnerable to abuse, neglect and discrimination due to the absence of institutional mechanisms for their care.

Moreover, paid leaves, essential to guarantee quality care, its redistribution and promote work-family balance, are also insufficient worldwide. There are 64 countries that grant below the minimum 14 weeks of maternity leave, as established by the ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection. Additionally, only four in ten parents have access to some form of paternity leave, with durations varying from two days to several months. While some countries offer cash transfers to supplement resources for care, much work remains to be done.

Effective care systems should, at a minimum, encompass the following components:

1) Comprehensive care infrastructure: Care infrastructure and services need to encompass childcare, long-term care and support services for persons with disabilities, as well as care for aging populations globally. These systems should consider the specific needs of the most disadvantaged populations, including LGBTI communities, while respecting their rights to autonomy and choice. Gender-responsive water, energy, and sanitation systems are a crucial element of infrastructure to reduce the time spent on domestic work.

2) Paid time to care: parental, maternity and paternity leaves, as well as measures to facilitate work-family balance such as flexible working arrangements, are vital to encourage shared responsibility between genders. Given the prevalence of informal work in the Global South, it is imperative to establish pathways to reach workers in the informal economy -who do not have access to parental leaves- through income transfers scheme, granting monetary resources to fulfil care needs.

3) Cash transfers: monetary resources are a key component of a robust social protection programme, which can support households in acquiring goods and services to meet their immediate needs. Many countries worldwide have progressed on providing both conditional and unconditional income support, yielding positive developmental outcomes for children and better livelihoods for families.

4) Institutional architecture and regulatory framework: coordination and articulation among the different actors responsible for designing and implementing Comprehensive Care Systems require solid and coherent regulatory schemes. This means avoiding isolated interventions that may overlap or leave critical gaps, in favour of cohesive, whole-of-government and whole-of-society efforts to maximise impact. Assurance mechanisms are also essential to guarantee the quality and adequacy of care services. The District Care System in Bogota and the National Care System in Uruguay serve as notable examples at the local and national level, respectively.

5) Decent work for paid care and domestic workers: Paid workers in the care and domestic sector, including migrants, should enjoy decent work conditions, with labour legislation guaranteeing their rights in accordance with the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers (C189). This encompasses fair wages, social protection, written contracts, rights for collective bargaining, formalisation of employment, and opportunities for training and professional development. Collaboration with trade unions and civil society organisations is essential to involve workers’ voices in decision-making and foster social dialogue. In light of technology and digital transformations in labour markets, regulatory considerations should also address digitally enabled care enterprises and care jobs.

6) Resource allocation: To transform commitments into action, resources for the implementation of care systems and for scaling up public and private innovations linked to the care economy are vital. This implies building sustainable, long-term financing by expanding fiscal space and building partnerships between the public and private sector.

Strengthening international cooperation on care

The international arena serves as a fertile ground for bolstering networks, sharing knowledge, disseminating lessons learned, building capacity and advocating for the implementation of comprehensive and inclusive care systems.

Our work within the G20 process united us to work at national, regional and global levels to make care a policy priority. This intention builds upon the numerous commitments on care by G20 leaders over the past decade. In 2014, the importance of care was underscored when leaders committed to reduce the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025. This commitment was reinforced with an Action Plan in 2021, aiming to establish a roadmap for achieving this goal. In addition, The G20 Early Childhood Development Initiative, launched in 2018, also emphasised the need to increase investments in quality childcare services for younger generations, while promoting shared responsibility. Time is pressing to turn these commitments into tangible results. As the G20 presidency heads to Brazil, new leadership from the Global South offers an opportunity to spotlight the care needs of developing countries.

To foster a new social contract that places care at the forefront of global priorities, guarantees the rights of both care recipients and providers, promotes gender equality and recognises shared responsibility for care, we propose:

1) Opening dialogue in multilateral spaces: Creating opportunities, both within the G20 and other regional and global fora, for peer learning, knowledge exchange and capacity building related to the care economy. These platforms can also support initiatives to design data collection and harmonisation schemes while disseminating evidence on the effectiveness of care policies that can be adaptable or scalable to other contexts.

2) Enhancing advocacy efforts: advocacy is vital disseminate the benefits and evidence of reinforcing care ecosystems worldwide. To this end, common challenges and shared goals need to be identified among different groups working on care and support for early childhood, older persons, and persons with disabilities, as well as organisations representing workers and migrants working in the care sector. In this regard, the role of care recipients and care workers is paramount, placing their experiences at the centre of policy making for care justice.

3) Designing accountability mechanisms: open data and regular reporting are important to monitor the commitments made by governments and international agencies within multilateral spaces. This ensures transparency and helps track progress towards achieving the established care-related goals and objectives.

The virtuous circle of care

Care remains the invisible foundation of our socio-economic system, providing vital support to individuals and families and empowering them to lead fulfilling lives and unleash their full potential. Governments have the duty to champion this agenda, a commitment that yields a triple win for society, the environment and the economy.

As we mark the inaugural International Day of Care and Support, it is time to pave the way to a new world: one in which care takes its rightful place as the cornerstone of wellbeing and the development of human potential.

The original article was published on CIPPEC’s website. Supported by the IDRC, this article was elaborated in collaboration with a global network of more than 20 organisations dedicated to reshaping care policies and advancing a “Care 20” agenda within the G20 and beyond. Partners in this endeavour include CIPPEC, Southern Voice, IWWAGE, FORCES India, the Center for Global Development, the Asia Foundation, UN Women, The Global Alliance for Care, Early Opportunities Initiative, the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) and Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN).


‘Nayi Chetna – Pahal Badlav Ki’ campaign Marks its Second Year in the battle against Gender-Based Violence

‘Nayi Chetna – Pahal Badlav Ki’ campaign Marks its Second Year in the battle against Gender-Based Violence

November 25th, 2023 marked the launch of the year two of Nayi Chetna, Pahal Badlaav ki. Institute for What Works to Advance Gender Equality is proud to partner with esteemed Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste and Minister of State for Rural Development and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti inaugurated the campaign in New Delhi. Secretary Rural Development, Shri Shailesh Kumar Singh, Addl. Secretary Rural Livelihoods, Shri Charanjit Singh and Member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Dr. Shamika Ravi, dignitaries and representatives from the State Livelihoods Mission, the banking community, development partners and CSOs, SHG members from across the country were also present in the occasion.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) under the aegis of the Ministry of Rural Development announced the commencement of the second year of its flagship annual campaign, Nayi Chetna- Pahal Badlaav Ki, dedicated to address gender issues and eliminating gender-based violence. The launch coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign aims to address pressing issues like normalization of violence, reluctance to speak up, lack of awareness of support mechanisms, and the absence of perceived safe spaces.


Violence against women and girls continue to be one of the biggest deterrents to achieving well-being, self-growth and a life of dignity. Physical or psychological violence is a gross violation of basic human rights and impedes women and girls achieving their full potential and living a life of their choice. Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that affects 1 in every 3 women in their lifetime. Evidence reveals that women are often unable to identity violence meted out to them because of normalization of discrimination and violence. Even if they do identify violence, they are unable to share or raise their voice against it to avoid naming and shaming and they continue to suffer in silence.  Most women, by and large, are unaware of redressal mechanisms, service providers and lack legal awareness.


DAY-NRLM has been at the forefront of gender empowerment since 2016 and recognizes this social evil as a major hindrance towards achieving individual and social development and hence aims to take necessary actions for eliminating Gender Based Violence. As part of its ongoing effort of mobilizing and addressing issues of marginalized communities and women, DAY-NRLM emphasises on the need for creating institutional mechanisms of responding to issues of violence along with integration of gender in all verticals for a larger perspective shift. Towards this, DAY-NRLM initiated the Nayi Chetna – Pahal Badlaav Ki campaign, which garnered immense success in its first year, mobilizing 3.5 crore people nationwide.


The campaign engages a wide array of stakeholders, including State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), community institutions, Panchayati Raj Institutions, members of the community, DAY-NRLM verticals, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and relevant line Ministries and Departments.

The campaign has been launched for a period of one month with convergence with 13 Ministries/Departments. The campaign will undertake awareness building activities at community levels for sensitisation of all sections of the community. This would include rangoli making, pledge for elimination of gender-based violence, meetings at gram sabha level, essay and drawing competition, etc. In addition, special efforts will be made sensitise panchayat level functionaries on laws pertaining to gender-based violence and creation of safe spaces of women.  During the period of campaign, meetings of gender forums will be organised at block level and district level, sensitisation of police station personnels and other functionaries like health workers, schools, etc.

The campaign has been rightly given taglines of ‘Sahenge nahin kahenge’ and ‘Chuppi Todenge’.

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.