MGNREGA helped rural people fend against the pandemic: Official
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New Delhi: MGNREGA played a significant role in helping rural people cope with the pandemic stress, generating for them more total workdays in comparison with the pre-pandemic time, a senior official has said.

Addressing a session on ‘Women, Ordeal and Opportunity through the Pandemic’ late Friday evening, Secretary at the Ministry of Rural Development Nagendra Nath Sinha said a total of 260 crore person days were created in 2019 and this number rose to 390 crore person days in 2021.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA is a labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the right to work.

Sinha said MGNREGA played a very significant role in addressing the needs of the rural communities in coping with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Academics and experts present at the discussion called for implementing the scheme as a tool for protecting and empowering women.

Charity Troyer Moore, Director for South Asia Economics Research at Yale University’s Macmillan Centre, said the policy itself can directly shape women’s economic status, and can even shape some of the restrictive gender norms preventing women from entering the labour workforce.

Men really in this (rural) setting, perceive a very strong social stigma on them when their wives work. There’s a perception that if my wife works outside of the home then I’m sending a signal to my whole community that I’m a poor provider, she said.

Rohini Pande, Director, Economic Growth Centre at Yale University, said the urban labour force participation was low but relatively constant during the pandemic.

Female labour force participation fell from an average of around one in three women working to basically roughly one in five women working and this was true at the point when we entered the pandemic, she added.

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