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Unformatted text preview: SPECIAL ARTICLE Economic & Political Weekly EPW july 10, 2010 vol xlv no 28 49 Women, Work, and Employment Outcomes in Rural India Nisha Srivastava, Ravi Srivastava An earlier version of this paper was presented at a workshop on “Gaps, Trends and Current Research in Gender Dimensions of Agricultural and Rural Employment” , organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Labour Organisation in Rome on 31 March – 2 April 2009. The authors are grateful to participants at the workshop and to anonymous referees for comments. Able research support provided by Swati Sachdev and T Shobha is gratefully acknowledged. Nisha Srivastava ( email@example.com ) is at the University of Allahabad and Ravi Srivastava ( firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Large-scale surveys show that while rural women’s employment has grown over the decades, women are still largely self-employed or employed as casual labour in agriculture. They face various forms of discrimination, including job-typing that pushes them into low-paying jobs. Higher work participation per se does not lead to better outcomes unless accompanied by higher education, and/or assets. Education may not positively influence a woman’s participation in work, but for women who are in the workforce, education is the most important determinant of better quality non-agricultural work. Women’s autonomy, measured in terms of control over land, mobility, and a willingness to join self-help groups, enables them to move into non-agricultural jobs. The paper argues for policy interventions to increase work opportunities and enhance wages for rural women workers. E mployment is critical for poverty reduction and for en- hancing women’s status. However, it is potentially empow- ering and liberating only if it provides women an opportu- nity to improve their well-being and enhance their capabilities. On the other hand, if it is driven by distress and is low-paying, then it may only increase a woman’s drudgery. To understand women’s work status in India’s rural areas and to examine the trends and nature of women’s employment, this paper analyses data from large-scale national surveys. It draws on data from the National Sample Surveys ( NSS ), the National Family Health S urveys ( NFHS ), and the agricultural census conducted by the ministry of agriculture, as well as other sources of information such as national income data from the Central Statistical O rganisation ( CSO ). The paper is organised into five sections. Section 1 analyses work participation rates for women by socio-economic character- istics such as caste, religion, education, and economic status....
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