Rural Training Centers to Unlock Female Labor


Unlocking Female Labor


Rural Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh


240 villages, 4000 women


Boston College, Ministry of Rural Development, India, Shahi Exports, University of Michigan







The female labor force participation rate in India fell from 36% in 2005-06 to 26% in 2018. Though the National Sample Survey found that women, especially in rural settings, desire to work, in reality, most women in rural areas are rarely engaged in work outside of their homes and family farms. Preliminary data collected through Participatory Rural Appraisals in 1300 villages across 53 taluks in Karnataka shows that for 57% of women the primary activity is working on the family farm. This could be due to the lack of opportunities for work outside of their homes or farms in their villages, and because they don’t have the skills to undertake any specialized work outside of these.


Will more rural women move to cities for work if they have the required skills and an assured job? How will this affect their decisions about work, family and migration?


This study seeks to rigorously evaluate the impacts of improved employment opportunities on women’s work and family decisions. Twenty taluks (cluster of villages) have been chosen and one training centre will be set up in each of the 10 treatment taluks. Baseline surveys were conducted in 2880 households in 240 sample villages in the chosen taluks.

Training is conducted by our partner firm Shahi Exports, and occurs in six batches of 35 workers per center per year. Trainees will be offered guaranteed employment at one of the Shahi factories in Bangalore upon completion of three months of training. Recruitment for the training batches is mandated by the government skilling subsidy scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDUGKY) to target households below the poverty line, and to represent women and marginalized social groups.

The mobilization of participants from the sample village is done by village-level mobilizers recruited for this purpose - typically Anganwadi workers, ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Worker) or self-help group members. The mobilizers are split into two groups - one set is paid a fixed amount, and the other set has performance incentives that depend on how many of the women they mobilized complete the training and migrate to Bangalore. This sub-experiment is meant to measure the impacts of performance incentives on mobilizer effort and quality of women mobilized (whether they are likely to take up this program and migrate).

Women in one section (40 villages) have been given the option of Joint Placement - that is, their husbands are also offered a job in one of the Shahi factories in Bangalore when the women finish their training and choose to migrate. This arm of the study seeks to understand whether the possibility of moving with their husbands increases the number of women willing to take up the training and migrate to Bangalore.

Batches have been rolled out in a few villages. Mobilizer effort, trainee participation and performance, and workplace outcomes are tracked continuously for every batch. In the midline survey, components on children and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) will be added to study the effects of female labour force participation and migration on family members and the women’s decision making and bargaining power.

Image credits: Shalin Gor