Women, Labour and Livelihoods in 21st century India: a research and policy linkage workshop




11th and 12th December 2014

Co-organized by the University of Melbourne, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Centurion University

Notwithstanding the high rates of economic growth in the Indian economy over the past decade and ostensibly increased employment opportunities, only 15 per cent of all women in India are engaged in paid work, whether this is in the formal or informal sector[1]. The corollary implication is that 85 per cent of Indian women are engaged in forms of unpaid family labour within the home, farm or family-based enterprise that in effect situates them in relationships of dependency[2]. The benefits of India’s economic growth and its ‘demographic dividend’ will continue to elude young women if Indian policy interventions are not convergent with insights from research on women’s livelihoods, labour, skills and employment. Gender, as other social relationships (such as caste, age) is a crucial mediator of livelihoods and employment in a deeply stratified country such as India, and gendered identities inevitably influence outcomes of managed interventions such as programmes and policies for skills training or women’s self-employment.

This proposed 2 day workshop seeks to bring together an inter-disciplinary group of researchers, development practitioners and policy influencers who work on issues of urban and rural women’s labour, livelihoods and employment in India. The aim of the workshop is to engage in a discussion on how better linkages between research and policy can shape improved economic outcomes, particularly for poor women.

The workshop envisages a dialogue between academics and practitioners. We therefore invite both full length academic papers as well as presentations by practitioners. Selected papers from the workshop and highlights of workshop discussions will be edited for publication.

We invite workshop papers and presentations that focus on analyses of:
Workforce participation levels
– The patterns of women’s entry and exit in labour markets and what this reveals of their livelihood strategies and response to economic opportunity
Renegotiation of gendered roles
– How gendered responsibilities for social reproduction are re-negotiated and re-shaped as young women engage in new opportunities for livelihoods or employment
– The choices and constraints that young women face, especially in terms of gender relations within the household and other dimensions of marginalized identity (such as caste, ethnicity, sexuality and religion), as well as the societal backlash when they assert themselves through being mobile, seeking opportunities and challenging gendered social expectations.
Women in low-paid and corrosive work
– Strategies to counter the sequestration of women in unpaid, poorly waged and/or precarious labour
– Strategies to break the downward economic spiral faced by rural poor women with the ongoing agrarian crisis and the feminisation of agriculture

The impact of skills and collective capacity building interventions
– The influence of government and non-government initiatives to build collective capacity among women in improving economic outcomes
– The scope for policies and institutions such as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and the National Skills Development Corporation to play a transformative social and economic role.
The role of migration for work
– The opportunities and constraints of migratory strategies as a mode of economic development and of transforming gender relations within households and communities.

– The wider impacts of short and long term sojourns in urban-industrial centres for young women What do they ‘learn’? How does the experience shift attitudes, aspirations and perspectives? Do such young women repeat their journey?? Do they participate differently in local politics and labour markets?

Workshop Co-ordinators:


  • Dr Bina Fernandez, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Meena Gopal, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Dr Orlanda Ruthven, Centurion University and Gram Tarang


Workshop Dates: 11th and 12th December 2014
Location: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai campus

Abstract Submission deadline: 30th September 2014. Please complete the attached abstract submission for and email to: WLLworkshop2014@gmail.com. Selection of papers and presentations by: 6th October 2014. Authors of selected papers and presentations will be provided with travel (within India), meals and accommodation. Paper Submission deadline: November 15th 2014. Final papers and presentations must be emailed to WLLworkshop2014@gmail.com.

Abstract Submission Form Women, Labour and Livelihoods in 21st century India: a research and policy linkage workshop

Institutional Affiliation:
Contact Address:
Phone number:
Type of abstract (circle the appropriate choice): Academic paper Presentation

Abstract (no more than 500 words):


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