Global Resources

Issues in labour market inequality and women’s participation in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme

Author: S. Dasgupta, R. M. Sudarsham
Publisher: International Labour Organization
Publication Date: Feb 2011

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGP or NREGP), functions as an income supplement for poor households by providing 100 days of work to a rural household, with 33 per cent of all workdays reserved for women workers. The stated objectives of the programme are to enhance livelihood security while producing durable assets, empowering women, reducing distress migration and promoting social equity. 

The focus of this paper is to investigate women’s participation in the NREGP and analyse the potential impact of the programme in the medium term on women’s access to wage work and wages of women workers in rural India, using available national and state level data. In relation to the findings, the paper provides a range of insights into how the NREGP can potentially be beneficial for women workers by increasing their participation in wage work, by increasing their actual wages, and by enhancing their voice. In addition, the report explores the evidence on poverty and concludes with some observations on gender inequality and labour market institutions. 

Adapted from authors’ summary.