MGNREGA Empowers Rural Women

Women from Mughalpura, Haryana have improved their earnings and opportunities due to the MGNREGA. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was established in 2005 entitling both men and women to 100 days of guaranteed employment a year, with payment set at a rate of 128 rupees a day. The community of Mughalpura, Haryana has seen the benefits of MGNREGA scheme which has come alive with an active workforce making the most out of this opportunity. The MGNREGA based work in Mughalpura involves maintenance of roads and canals as well as other construction roles in the village. In the last three years, interest in the village for the scheme has nearly doubled. 2008 saw around 150 people enroll. Currently, the total number of people employed under the scheme stands at around 275. For the MGNREGA scheme in Mughalpura, 75% of the participants are women. Before the scheme was implemented, a majority of women worked predominantly in agriculture, on local land. Their payment averaged around 50-60 rupees a day. Now under the scheme, they have been offered their full amount of entitled working days and are paid on time. The average earning of a days’ work can reach 179 rupees. The Additional Block Program Officer, Shri Nivas Lamba states that conditions have been set in place to help support the women and their interests of working. For instance, childcare is provided for mothers with children under the age of five, enabling women to work the days they need to. The women that now have their own source of income have also been assisted in setting up personal bank accounts. The pride that comes with this opportunity is highly valued. A sense of empowerment arises. They are now able to make decisions over how they spend their earnings. By becoming breadwinners, the women are learning to be self sufficient. It gives them the confidence and a bigger say in the decision making process within the household. It may be a tiny space where these women are asserting themselves but the change, gradually, trickles beyond the four walls. For example, they are now able to provide for the education of their children. The story of the women of Mughalpura illustrates that if schemes like MGNREGA are implemented correctly and with responsibility and vision, it has the potential to be a small step in the right direction of a bigger change. It offers a picture of a healthy democracy, one where the structure seamlessly bridges the grassroots with policy.
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