Empowering Women With Access to Affordable Child Care

With declining female labour force participation in India, this impact evaluation study aims to explore the influence of day care facilities on a range of social and economic outcomes on women and contribute to evidence in support of child care programmes for women empowerment.

In India, the responsibility of providing childcare primarily rests on women. Quite discernibly, inadequate availability of affordable and reliable day care services for the poor restricts women’s access to educational and economic opportunities. There are evaluations done in many low and middle-income countries that point to a positive impact of childcare facilities on women’s labour market participation and economic empowerment. However, paucity of rigorous evidence to support impact of day care facilities on women empowerment in India, makes this an unexplored territory.
Currently, the Government funded Anganwadi centres at the village level, under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme, face a number of challenges including concerns around its implementation. This study is being undertaken to reduce existing gaps in availability of stronger evidence to understand the impact of childcare support on women’s empowerment and to support new childcare interventions by the government. It is an impact evaluation of a day-care programme on a range of social and economic outcomes on participating mothers and children.
This study was conducted in collaboration with Seva Mandir and McGill University with support from International Development Research Cebtre (IDRC). Employing a cluster randomized control trial approach, 160 hamlets were taken as sample for the study, half of which were randomly assigned to a day care centre or Balwadi. The Balwadis were set up in 80 communities with the aid of Seva Mandir.

The research findings will be translated into actionable items in collaboration with government and non-governmental organisations focused on poverty alleviation, gender equality, and improving health outcomes in India and similar developing contexts. 

Key Findings
Providing access to daycare led 43% of households to utilize them. The intervention reduced time spent by women on childcare by 16.0 minutes/day and increased the probabilities that women were paid in cash and spent time during the prior day on paid work by 2.3 and 2.6  percentage points. Other indicators of labor force participation and income were unaffected.

Thematic Area

Financial Well-being and Social Protection,

Health Systems and Quality of Life

Project Leads

Arijit Nandi, Sam Harper, Parul Agarwal, Shannon Maloney




Seva Mandir, McGill University