An Ongoing Battle for Rights: The Case of Anganwadi Workers with Special Reference to Maharashtra
Several reasons make the anganwadi workers’ movement rather unique. The most distinctive challenge of this ‘all-women’ workforce, spread across the country, is the need to be recognized as ‘workers’, to start with! As ‘volunteers’ they are offered an ‘honorarium’, which few would agree is a decent return for the functions they carry out. This chapter is an attempt to profile the precarities that characterize the anganwadi workers, narrate the process of organizing them, describe their ongoing struggle including strikes and legal battles to be considered as being ‘workers’ and achieve other entitlements and describe the varied challenges that confront them. The entire story is also reminiscent of the way the role of women is perceived: women must look after themselves and nurture others with a total sense of commitment but do so completely unconditionally! Can this workers’ movement that has dared to dream beyond the limited ‘bread-and-butter’ goal sustain itself through these challenges? Are there any lessons to learn for other practitioners in the workers’ movement from this experience? These are some of the questions addressed in this chapter.
KeywordsICDS Anganwadi Worker Volunteer Sevika Strike Court cases Bhaubeej MESMA PPP CSR
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