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Rajasthan allows unmarried women to be employed as Anganwadi workers

Till now only married women were only eligible to apply for the post of Anganwadi workers. The reason given was that when Anganwadi workers got married, they generally had to shift to other places, affecting the work of the Centre where they were employed.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 15:09 IST

Jaipur: In a major decision today just before the Women’s International Day on March 8, Rajasthan will now allow unmarried women to be employed as Anganwadi workers, which was not the case till now.

Deputy Chief Minister Diya Kumari said that in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of women empowerment, it has been decided to bring amendment in the recruitment procedure of the Anganwadi workers and Sahayikas, by allowing unmarried women to apply for the job.

Till now only married women were only eligible to apply for the post of Anganwadi workers. The explanation given was that when Anganwadi workers got married, they generally had to shift to other places, affecting the work of the Centre where they were employed.

Although the age criteria for applying for Anganwadi workers is 21 to 40, it was necessary to be married before applying for the post.

The educational qualifications require that the applicants must have completed their VIII, X and XII classes. Now with the relaxation in marital status, young girls who have cleared VIII, can also apply for the job.

Anganwadi is an initiative of the Central government under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS). Anganwadi centres are primary healthcare and education centres in rural areas, which focus on the health of pregnant women and nursing mothers along with childcare.

Anganwadi workers help in the pre-primary health checkup and immunisation programmes, supplementary nutrition, educating children up to six years of age and women about family’s planning, health, well-being.

The aim is to improve the quality of life at a grassroot level. Anganwadi workers have helped during the Covid-91 pandemic too.

The remuneration ranges from Rs 2000-8000 monthly for Anganwadi helpers to Rs 20,000 for Anganwadi supervisors. Mini Anganwadi workers can get a monthly salary of Rs 3000-Rs 6000.

The new order also states that those sathins/helpers/workers who gain continuous experience of two years, would get a seniority status and four bonus points when they apply for Anganwadi job.

Krishan Kunal, Principal Secretary in Women and Child Development Department said that there would be a 10 per cent increase in the remunerations from next month.

In September 2023, the Rajasthan High Court had ruled that marital status cannot be an eligibility criterion for ‘public employment’, terming the denial of an Anganwadi worker’s job to a woman for being unmarried as “irrational, discriminatory and violative of fundamental rights”.

The case pertained to petitioner Madhu Charan, 26, who had applied for the post of Anganwadi worker at Gudi Centre in Balotra, Barmer district, when she was verbally told that she was ineligible due to her marital status.

The government counsel had argued that after being recruited, if an Anganwadi worker gets married and shifts to a new place, the work at the said Centre would get hampered.

The Rajasthan High Court had observed that “depriving a woman of public employment on the ground of her being unmarried, apart from being violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution, also impinges upon a woman’s dignity”.

According to a reply by the Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani in February this year, Rajasthan has 61,305 Anganwadi workers and 38,009 Anganwadi helpers at present.

In May before the Assembly elections, which took place in November 2023, Anganwadi workers had protested in Pali and Jaisalmer districts for regularising their services, demanding gratuity amount after retirement, pension, medical allowances and a holiday calendar.

The Rajasthan government would also upgrade as many as 6,204 mini-Anganwadis as full-fledged Anganwadi centres from March 1.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 15:09 IST)

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