Fair share: (from top) In Phaloda village, of the 71 workers constructing a step-dam under MGNREGA, 63 are women; it’s a similar story in Naya Gaon, where the majority of the wokers digging a water po  ((from top) In Phaloda village, of the 71 workers constructing a step-dam under MGNREGA, 63 are women; it’s a similar story in Naya Gaon, where the majority of the wokers digging a water po)
Fair share: (from top) In Phaloda village, of the 71 workers constructing a step-dam under MGNREGA, 63 are women; it’s a similar story in Naya Gaon, where the majority of the wokers digging a water po ((from top) In Phaloda village, of the 71 workers constructing a step-dam under MGNREGA, 63 are women; it’s a similar story in Naya Gaon, where the majority of the wokers digging a water po)

MGNREGA status report | Working towards empowerment

MGNREGA status report | Working towards empowerment

Tilonia/Harmara Panchayats, Ajmer district, Rajasthan: Until two years ago, Vimla had never even considered stepping out of her house for work. Women in her part of the world didn’t work. Now, she doesn’t just work, but also operates a bank account, participates in household decisions, and is learning two of the (reading and writing).

Loading video...

The difference is the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) that was launched in Vimla’s village in 2008.

Vimla, who is in her 20s, is not unique. She is an example of what is happening in her village and across the state.

Ruhi Tewari notes how apart from social and economic impact, MGNREGS is also ushering in what might well be a subtle yet crucial political shift

Read why Mint decided to run a series on MGNREGS

In Rajasthan, MGNREGA has altered not just economic but also social dynamics. At least two out of every three workers employed under the scheme in most parts of the state are women, and the job guarantee programme is contributing to their gradual, but steady, economic and social empowerment.

Changing mindsets

“Across Rajasthan, 80-90% of the workforce under MGNREGA comprises women. This has brought about a massive change in the mindsets of people here and has instilled new-found confidence in women," says Ram Karan, a social activist in Tilonia district associated with the Barefoot College—a non-governmental organization that provides basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities.

Also Read Political will, NGOs hold key to success (Part 1 of the series)

In the shadow of Maoism (Part 2 of the series)

So much so that these women now open and manage their accounts in banks or post offices, and some of them are in the process of gaining a rudimentary education.

“The women, oppressed so far, have now become economically independent—earning their own living and also deciding how to spend it, unlike earlier, when the men would take all decisions. In fact, even their children’s health is improving given that they can now choose to spend their money where it’s needed," adds Karan, who is also the coordinator for MGNREGA in Tilonia and Harmara panchayats.

Close