Hari Bai is a woman from the Scheduled Caste community, from the lowest rung of India’s caste system and traditionally excluded in society. Having also recently learned how to read, she fought against all odds to become a “mate” or a worksite supervisor under the world’s largest pay-for-work programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA).
Now, she basks in the newfound respect she has gained from having attained a supervisory position.
“When I started going for the training, my husband was quite suspicious. But when he came to know about the benefits and its positive impact on our lives, he became more understanding,” says Hari Bai, who now works in Satavasa village of Lalitpur district, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Government of India’s MGNREGA programme guarantees at least 100 days of employment a year for every adult member of a rural household willing to do unskilled manual work for the minimum wage of 120 Indian rupees (USD 2.00) per day. UN Women provides technical support for the popular programme, which mandates that one-third of those employed be women, and ensures their equal pay.
However, in many Indian states women’s participation in the programme is still low. In Uttar Pradesh, it is a mere 19 per cent (nationally, female participation is 56 per cent)."
Read article from UN Women.