<Report>
GSDM 38th Platform Seminar
“WOMEN, WATER, AND WORK: LABOR MARKET EFFECTS OF THE ‘BAREFOOT MECHANICS’ PROGRAM IN GUJARAT, INDIA”
11th Dec, 2014    18:30~20:00 
(Room 610, Administration Bureau Building2,Hongo Campus)

2015/01/05
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Stimulating discussion at the GSDM 38th Platform Seminar on December 11, 2014 with Dr. Namrata Chindarkar from LKY School of Public Policy on her inspirational research about “Women, Water, and Work: Labor Market Effects of the ‘Barefoot Mechanics’ Program in Gujarat, India”

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Access to clean water and women’s labor force participation are among the key challenges developing countries continue to face. Often the two are closely intertwined. If women have to spend longer time collecting water their likelihood of participating in the labor force is significantly reduced.

Dr. Namrata presented findings from a two part study that examines the “barefoot mechanics” program implemented by the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Gujarat, which trains rural women to repair village water handpumps. Through this program SEWA aims to achieve the dual objectives of creating off-farm livelihood opportunities for its women members and reducing the burden of water collection on women by repairing the handpumps in a timely manner.

The first part examines the effect of the barefoot mechanics program on intra-household bargaining power of the trained women while the second part examines the effect of improved access to water on women’s labor force participation in households serviced by the barefoot mechanics.

During the seminar Dr. Namrata showed how the “barefoot mechanics” program changed intra-household bargaining power of the trained women and then how the improved access to water increased women’s labor force participation. Discussion continued among the participants. What if this framework is applied to Japan’s case? Access to nursery and childcare services and women’s labor force participation are among the key challenges that Japan continues to face, aren’t they? Discussion with Dr. Namrata has inspired and motivated us to pursue further the inquiry into the subject.

We are grateful to Dr. Namrata Chindarkar from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, for sharing her inspirational research and its findings. Her research has re-opened our eyes towards the usefulness of scientific research for social design and management.