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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).

Violence and the Political Economy of Work

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:

  • Defining work and worker;
  • Forms of violence in the context of a continuum;
  • Category of work that gets incentivised and/or dis-incentivised;
  • Types of roles and labour relations that get reinforced in the worlds of work;
  • Where are the single women and transgender?
  • Marginalisation of work and what makes work unacceptable?


  1. Ritu Dewan, IAWS, ISLE, IHD AND FPC
  2. Kalpana Viswanath, Jagori/Safetypin
  3. Sona Mitra, IWWAGE-Krea University and FPC
  4. Rakhi Sehgal, Gurgaon Shramik Kendra

Moderator: Subhalakshmi Nandi, Feminist Policy Collective (FPC)

Discussant: Chirashree Das Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Click here for details

Labour Force Participation in India
Regional Consultation on Female Labour Force Participation in India

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.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

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)