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Workshop on 'Women's Work and their Child Care Needs'

July, 2019

Organised by - Institute of Social Studies Trust

Date  - 27 & 28th September, 2018

At - India International Centre, New Delhi

Concept Note


“Women’s Work and their Child Care Needs”

The rising debate around declining work participation rate amongst women has pushed the need to assess and understand women and their work through various perspectives. Considering that majority of women in India continue to work in the unorganized sector, most often in hazardous conditions, with marginal or no wages and no social security benefits, several feminist economists have found faults in the very definition of work that is used by the Census and the NSS due to its inability to take into account the multi-faceted nature of woman’s work. They have argued that  this limitation in the way work and worker is defined, has led to failure of social policies in acknowledging  the double burden of work that women have to bear as they are pressed to look into numerous unpaid care/domestic/economic work along with their paid work. Though, women across sections are expected to perform number of care related roles and duties on an everyday basis; it is those who are most marginalized, who also have to deal with lesser bargaining ability in terms of seeking support. Thus, care work responsibilities that a woman bears along with lack of gender sensitive policies are highlighted as major barriers in terms of women’s participation in the workforce.

Of all the care responsibilities that women perform, it is her role as a mother and a primary care giver to her children, which has received utmost attention. This is due to the fact that mother’s involvement and care, specifically in the early years, is seen as a necessary factor for holistic development and growth of a child. However, the necessity to get back to work and earn a living is the cruel reality of most new mothers who belong to lower socio-economic strata of the society and are employed as informal workers. This has an impact not only on the quality of care that she is able to provide to her child but also on her own physical and mental health quality. Studies have also shown that an indirect impact of this is also on older siblings of the child, especially sisters, as they have to fill in for their mothers while she is away at work. Drawing of these linkages between mother’s dual responsibility of paid work and of child care and its impact on the health and development of the new born is not new. As early as in 1975, the Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, Towards Equality, as a major strategy for women’s development, stressed on the need of viewing child care service as a necessary support service to all women. Almost a decade later, Mina Swaminathan too, in her report, Who Cares? A Study of Child Care Facilities for Lower-Income Working Women in India, written for Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi (1985) stated that, ‘…facilities for children of working women can no longer be seen in isolation from the needs of child development and education; children’s programmes can no longer be seen in isolation from the changing position of women and families. The two must converge and be placed in the large framework of social and economic change and development’. Similarly, the Shramshakti Report (1988) on informal and self-employed women workers across India strongly recommended child care as an essential support to women’s work. However, an assessment of child care policies and programmes in India show that they mainly concentrate on specific development goals of the child but remain away from considering any of the requirements and needs of a working mother; thus, resultantly fail to address the very objective for which these child care provisioning were visualized in the first place. It is this gap between what is available in terms of child care provisioning and what support is actually required by working mothers, which raises the need to collate existing evidence and create newer ones to strengthen the argument that provisioning of universal child care support can, to some extent, pave way for women to access more paid work opportunities and at the same time, also provide better care to her children.

As a step towards this, Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) is organising a two day workshop on 'Women and their Child care needs: Focusing on informal workers' on 27th and 28th of September 2018. This is part of its work linked to understanding barriers to women's economic empowerment and working towards engendering existing policies and programmes. The objective of this workshop is:  

  • To collate existing evidence from field areas as well as academic research that support universal child care provisioning as one of the strategies to achieve women’s economic empowerment while also meeting the needs of the young child, and
  • To highlight evidence gaps that exist and suggest ways in which such evidence can be created to build more support for the call for universal child care services.


Day 1: September 27 2018

9.45 – 10.00: Registration

10.00 – 10.20: Introductions

Session I: Informal Women Workers, Decent Work and Child Care needs: Setting the Scene (Chaired by: Firoza Mehrotra, HomeNet South Asia)

10.20 – 10.40: Presentation on‘Women and their burden of unpaid care work: Why there is need to focus on child care needs?” (Rajib Nandi, ISST)

10.40 – 11.00: Presentation on “Child care needs - Policy Issues and Concerns” (Monika Banerjee, ISST)

11.00 – 11.15: Discussion

11.15 – 11.45: Tea

Session II: Presenting Evidence from the Ground (Chaired by: Ratna Sudarshan, ISST)

11.45 – 12.05: Presentation on “The Task Ahead: Child care Advocacy from the Ground” (Presentation by Savitri Ray, Coordinator, FORCES Network)

12.05 – 12.25: Presentation on “Sharing Experiences: Issues around Childcare in Delhi.(Chirashree Ghosh, Mobile Creches, New Delhi)

12.25 – 12.35: Presentation on “Women’s Work and Child Care Support: Putting Forward Demands linked to Child Care” (Mirai Chatterjee, SEWA)

12.35 – 1.00: Discussion

1.00 – 2.00: Lunch

Session III: Evidence from Research I: Empirical Researches linking Women’s Work and Child Care Support

2.00 – 2.20: Presentation on “How can I do more paid work when I have a small child?: Evidence from GrOW study in India and Nepal”, (Mubashira Zaidi and Anwesha Ghosh, ISST)

2.20 – 2.40: Presentation on “Study on the Impact of full-day Childcare managed by a Women's Cooperative in an Urban Slum”,(Namya Mahajan, SEWA)

2.40 - 3.00: Discussion

Session IV: Group Discussions on Concerns in Provisioning of Child Care Support and Necessary Areas of Work

3.00 – 3.15: Participants to be divide into four groups for group discussion on specific aspects of providing child care

3.15 – 4.15: Two simultaneous Group Discussions on

  •  Group I: Space for public-private convergence in provisioning child care. Identifying Research Gaps.
  • Group II: Role of community, women’s groups, unions in meeting child care support demands. Identifying Research Gaps. 

4.15 – 4.45: Tea

4.45 – 5.30: Presentations of the Groups and Discussion: Identifying Key Areas of Research


Day 2: September 28 2018

Session V: Evidence from Research II: Providing Child Care: Policy Measures and Capital Investment

10.00 - 10.20: Presentation on “Center-based Quality Childcare: Human Capital Investment for Maternal Employment & Early Childhood Development: An Avenue for Economic Employment Opportunities”, (Surabhi Chaturvedi, Independent Researcher)

10.20 – 10.40: Presentation on “Fiscal Policy Interventions for Child Care” (Lekha Chakraborty, NIPFP)

10.40 – 11.00: Discussion

11.00 – 11.30: Tea

Session VI: Group Discussions on Concerns in Provisioning of Child Care Support and Necessary Areas of Work

11.30 – 11.45: Participants to be divide into four groups for group discussion on specific aspects of providing child care

11.45 – 1.00: Two simultaneous Group Discussions on

  • Group III: Recognising continuum of women’s work, identifying policy measures necessary for ensuring child care provisioning. Identifying Research Gaps.
  • Group IV: Identifying ways in which existing child care provisions can be strengthened: Focusing on ICDS Centres. Identifying Research Gaps.

1.00 – 2.00: Lunch

2.00 – 3.00: Presentations of the Groups and Discussion: Identifying Key Areas of Research

3.00 – 4.00: Concluding Session (Chaired by Mirai Chatterjee, SEWA)

-          Collating Evidences,

-          Identifying Key Areas of Research

4.00: Tea