The thinking line of the answer would be: More women than men work under the national programme that guarantees employment to rural people. This is remarkable given that only 26% per cent women form a part of the country’s workforce, according to the National Sample Survey Organization data of 2011-12.
More women than men work under the national programme that guarantees employment to rural people. This is remarkable given that only 26% per cent women form a part of the country’s workforce, according to the National Sample Survey Organization data of 2011-12.
Why low women participation in workforce:
Possible explanation for this trend could be that India is behaving according to the feminization U hypothesis, where in the development process, female labor force participation first declines and then rises.
The hypothesized mechanisms for the decline are
• A rising incompatibility of work and family duties as the workplace moves away from home,
• An income effect of the husband’s earnings, and
• A stigma against females working outside the home (especially in some particular sectors).
Other reasons like greater working opportunities in urban areas, difficulty of women to migrate or commute daily, safety and security of women at workplace also effects women participation rates. The rising portion of the U curve then comes with a receding stigma, high potential earnings of females as their education improves further, as well as fertility decline, and better options to combine work and family duties.
Why higher women participation in MGNREGA:
Women participation in the flagship rural job scheme MGNREGA has clocked around 51% in financial year 2015-16. There are several reasons for it:
• Wage differential: in informal sector, there is generally greater wage differential between man and women, whereas MGNREGA provided equal wages. So, women tend to look for it at the place of informal labor or casual labor.
• In Kerala, the wages paid in NREGA being higher than the prevailing market wages for women acts as an additional factor behind women’s high participation.
• Work near to home: the availability of work and convenience of finding work near home are important factors in attracting women to MGNREGA work.
• Unskilled work: since work provided in MGNREGA is unskilled, men who are educated or can find work in near-by towns, does not seek work and women from household take part in work.
• Migration: generally, men from household migrates to urban areas, leaving women behind. Who in turn go to MGNREGA to ensure income security.
• Type of work: with water conservation work allowed in field and payments made through MGNREGA, many such types of works were taken up by women farmers and laborer and payments were made through MGREGA.
• Work place facilities: MGREGA says that crèche facility must be made available at worksite, this has made working easy for women, who otherwise shun work in absence of supporting infrastructure for their children.
• Mobilization by SHGs in Kerala and other organizations in Rajasthan.
But the involvement of women at planning level was below 50%. If this is also improved then there could be greater focus on women empowerment projects in rural areas. This show that if equal wages, better facilities at work, working facilities closer to home are provided women take active participation in work. These should be used to improve working opportunities for women in formal sector and skilled employment opportunities.
Changes brought about by MGNREGA to women
• MGNREGA has become a vehicle of social empowerment for women. By providing them with work it has given them economic resources.
• In family where the income of male member is not enough for the family, women supplement male income through MGNREGA.
• Women from SCs and OBCs who used to work as laborers in field have used MGNREGA to augment their income. It has also helped those women who live alone, in the events of male migration.
This has helped women to gain self-confidence, to have greater say in decision making in family, to provide for education and health of their children and more importantly not to look up to upper castes people for support.