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Women in MGNREGS in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Based on secondary data from the National Sample Survey Office and a household-level survey of four villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the study found that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has a number of direct and indirect benefits. Overall, it was found that, in both rural Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, women’s participation in the MGNREGS has been encouraging and beneficial.

Social safety net (SSN) programmes in India have been designed and implemented since the planning process began in 1951 with the objective to ensure food security at all levels and to enhance livelihoods of rural communities. To fulfil this objective, successive governments in India have been undertaking rural development policies to enhance agricultural production and, at the same time, also to provide targeted welfare support to the poor, women and vulnerable groups. Vulnerable communities include those groups that suffer from social and economic disadvantages, such as Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), those who are underserved due to problems of geographical access (even in better-off states), and the urban poor (Vaidyanathan 2006). Other high-risk and vulnerable subgroups include infants, children and women. Women in particular are more vulnerable to income and other shocks because of the absence of insurance mechanisms; for example, lack of assets to be used as collateral, ill health, and shorter duration of paid employment (Narayanan and Das 2014).

Many of the SSN programmes evolved over time and some transformed into new programmes, like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), India’s largest SSN programme for rural areas. The legislation for the MGNREGS, passed in 2005, mandates 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work (MoRD 2012). The key objective of the programme is to improve overall livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable populations, and reduce their outmigration and destitution. Though establishing gender equity is not the MGNREGS’s primary objective, the scheme incorporates the principles of gender equity and empowerment into its design. The act stipulates that a minimum of a third of the beneficiaries who have registered must be women. Thus, it attempts to give priority to women. By creation of in situ jobs associated with higher wage rates, the MGNREGS is expected to enhance livelihood security for women in particular, and potentially could be the vehicle for reducing the gender gap in the villages (Jatav and Sen 2013).

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Updated On : 11th Aug, 2017

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