India: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural

Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)
Ms. Subhalakshmi Nandi
Programme Specialist, Women’s Economic Empowerment
UN Women Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka
ADB Regional Seminar on Women’s Employment,
Entrepreneurship and Empowerment
Bangkok, 20th May 2015
The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank
(ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and
accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty
or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.

Status of Women in India
32% in India lives below the poverty line
 11% marginalised HHs headed by women
 943 females to 1000 males (CSR 914)
 65.4% women literate
 Maternal mortality at 212 per 100,000 births
 Above 70% women have nutrition
deficiencies
 35% women have faced sexual/physical
violence in the lifetime

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Female work participation rate at lowest: 22.8%
21 million women exited the workforce between 200405 and 2009-10
Over 93% workers in informal employment | Majority
women | 79% rural women in agriculture (of which 81%
belong to marginalised groups) | Only 9% women own
land
51% of women’s work unpaid
18% women have no say on how their income is spent
(Census, ILO, NSSO, UN Women)
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MGNREGA: Key Features

Legal entitlement, passed on the demand of farmers’
and workers’ organisations
Provides 100 days’ wage employment every year
Ensures minimum, equal wages + unemployment
allowance
Leads to creation of rural assets – earth-works, soil
water conservation
Aims at strengthening bodies of local selfgovernance
Inbuilt mechanisms for transparency, accountability
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and community participation

Pro-women Provisions under
MGNREGA
One-third workers to be women
 Equal pay for work of equal value
 Provision of creche facilities
 Provision of work within a 5 km radius of
home

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IMPLEMENTATION (1)
1. Available Funds and Expenditure under MGNREGA
60000

In Rs. Crores

50000
40000
30000
20000
10000

0

200607
Total Available Fund 12074
Expenditure
8823

200708
19306
15857

200809
37397
15857

200910
45682
37910

201011
52649
39377

201112
41564
37549

201213
38835
39440

IMPLEMENTATION (2)
Number of Person Days Against the Guaranteed 100 Days of Work
100

0

43

42

2006-07 2007-08

48
2008-09

54
2009-10

Person days

47
2010-11

42
2011-12

44
2012-13

Guaranteed Number of Days

Percentage Participation of Marginalised Groups and Women (In Person Days)
2012-13

2013-14

2014-15
51% 53% 54%

22% 23% 22%

SCs

18% 18% 17%

STs

Women

IMPLEMENTATION (3)
Regional Variations
States with Highest and Lowest Participation of Women*

KERALA

92%

UTTAR PRADESH

25%

TAMIL NADU

85%

JAMMU & KASHMIR

25%

* Person-days by women as a percentage of total person-days (2014-15)

MGNREGA responds to the crisis of
poverty by…
Providing wage employment with guaranteed
minimum wages + wage parity
 Generating resources for agriculture, farming and
subsistence work
 Addressing distress migration
 Reaching the most marginalised
 Strengthening local governance
 Promoting transparency and accountability
mechanisms
 Addressing women’s rights at the workplace (e.g.
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crèche)

Case Study: UN Women’s Work in
Uttar Pradesh

A pilot project: Dalit Women’s Livelihoods
Accountability Initiative (DWLAI)
Supported by UN Women’s Fund for Gender
Equality (FGE), in partnership with Gender at
Work, local organisations, and local
government
Reached out to 30,000 women from SC
community, enabling their access to NREGA
Ensured 9,000 women opened bank
accounts, and controlled their earnings
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Project Results

Paradigm shift  ‘right’, not a ‘dole’
Increase in income and employment: 77% improvement in
economic condition
Women’s access to and control over financial resources:
 40% increase in individual bank accounts
 20% increase in controlling own accounts
Women trained in skilled and semi-skilled work: supervisory
roles, work measurement
Innovations: all-women worksites, women trained as supervisors
(module developed), women in social audit process
Impact on rural/agricultural wages (30-40% increase; reduction
in gender wage gap)
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Policy Outcomes

Revision of guidelines by Ministry:
 Job Cards for single women
 Individual bank accounts
 Gender-responsive ‘schedule of rates’ (SOR)
 50% worksite supervisors to be women

UN Women invited to support such work in 4
states (below 33% participation of women) 
ongoing technical support
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Learnings & Areas for Future Work

Address socioeconomic disadvantage:

Feudal system
Social protection within macroeconomic policies

End discrimination and violence: Gender, caste
and class-based discrimination
Promote voice, agency and participation:


Interface between women from marginalised
communities and the state
Support for organising
Women as supervisors, managers, planners, leaders
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Need of the hour
(POWW, UN Women, 2015)

‘Transforming Economies, Realising Rights’

What:


For gender equality and women’s empowerment
For stronger economies
Women’s socioeconomic disadvantage
Ensuring freedom from discrimination and violence
Promoting voice, agency and participation

How:


Engendering macroeconomics from a human rights lens
Promote ‘decent work’
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Ensure gender-responsive social protection

Thank You !