Women’s share in jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) is on the rise again, after dipping slightly in 2020-21. At 56.1% so far in the current fiscal, their share is just shy of touching the highest in a decade, indicating rural males are again migrating to urban areas after the pandemic for livelihood.
As per the available data, women’s share in the total job generated under the MG-NREGS never fell below 50% in the last decade. In the last 10 years, their share was the highest in 2016-17 at 56.2%. In 2021-22, women’s share in MG-NREGS jobs was 54.67%. Their share was lowest in 2012-13 at 51.3%.
The MG-NREGS is a demand-driven scheme for the enhancement of livelihood security of households in rural areas, by providing at least 100 days of ‘wage employment’ in a financial year to every rural household whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act mandates, “Priority shall be given to women in such a way that at least one-third of the beneficiaries shall be women who have registered and requested for work. Efforts to increase participation of single women and the disabled shall be made.”
Rajendran Narayanan, assistant professor, Azim Premji University, said that the share of women in the MG-NREGS jobs has got some traction, as rural males are again migrating back to urban areas for livelihood. While the phenomenon is good for rural women, it also means that the rural economy is yet to get over the pandemic shock.
As per the MG-NREGS dashboard, while an average of only 50.07 days of work was provided to such rural households in 2021-22, so far in the current fiscal it stands at 32.84 days.
The government has allocated Rs 73,000 crore in the Budget for 2022-23 for the MG-NREGS, of which a little over Rs 50,000 crore has already been spent. In FY22, a little over Rs 1 trillion was spent under the scheme.