The participation of women in works carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Uttar Pradesh has been steadily increasing in the last few years and constitutes 37.60 per cent of the total man days in the current financial year, according to the state government.
This, however, continues to be higher than 33 per cent of work to be given to women under the Act. The MGNREGA Act requires priority to be given to women in such a way that at least one-third of the beneficiaries are women. The figure of women participation in MGNREGA is still far low against the national average of participation of women under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme at 53.07 per cent in 2020-21.
According to the UP Rural Development Department, the women’s participation in the rural job scheme rose from 34.28 per cent of man days in 2019-20 to 37.60 per cent in 2022-23. UP, which was among the worst-performing states with respect to women’s participation in the MGNREGA schemes before 2017, has been successful raising the number of women beneficiaries in the last five and a half years, according to the government.
An official said several measures taken by the state government enhanced the participation of women in the rural job scheme.
In 2022-23, a total of 1,738.41 lakh person days were created under the scheme, of which 653.64 lakh were women person days, constituting 37.60 per cent of the women participation.
In 2021-22, 3.258.42 lakh person days were generated, including 1,212.13 lakh (37.20 per cent) women person days, whereas in 2020-21, a total of 3,945.41 lakh person days were created, of which 1,325.26 lakh were women person days, accounting for 33.59 per cent,” he added.
According to the government, female mates are being appointed in villages to increase the participation of women. Female mates are women assistants for management and supervision of MGNREGS jobs and job sites.
Women from self-help groups (SHGs) formed under the Livelihood Mission have been selected, and a target has been set to provide employment to more than 35,000 female mates in the state. Against the target, the work has been provided to 16,660 female mates.
The MGNREGA legally enshrines the “right to work” and ensures livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. According to MGNREGA guidelines, at least one-third of the beneficiaries have to be women who have registered and requested work under the programme.