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Women and Work in India: Designing Policy When Power Matters

Despite rapid economic growth, female labor force participation in India has been falling and this trend may well be amplified by COVID-19. This lecture will discuss the role of gender norms and extant power structures in limiting Indian women’s access to labor markets and, using the example of India’s rural workfare program, demonstrate how public policy can be designed to strengthen women’s ability to challenge these norms and enter the labor market. Additionally, implications for COVID-19 social protection and labor market policies will be discussed.

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Rohini Pande Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics; Director, Economic Growth Center, Yale University

Rohini Pande is the Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center, Yale University. She is a co-editor of American Economic Review: Insights. Pande’s research is largely focused on how formal and informal institutions shape power relationships and patterns of economic and political advantage in society, particularly in developing countries. She is interested in the role of public policy in providing the poor and disadvantaged political and economic power, and how notions of economic justice and human rights can help justify and enable such change. Her most recent work focuses on testing innovative ways to make the state more accountable to its citizens, such as strengthening women’s economic and political opportunities, ensuring that environmental regulations reduce harmful emissions, and providing citizens effective means to voice their demand for state services.

In 2018, Pande received the Carolyn Bell Shaw Award from the American Economic Association for promoting the success of women in the economics profession. She is the co-chair of the Political Economy and Government Group at Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a Board member of the Bureau of Research on Economic Development (BREAD), and a former co-editor of The Review of Economics and Statistics. Before coming to Yale, Pande was the Rafik Harriri Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, where she co-founded Evidence for Policy Design. Pande received a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, a BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University, and a BA in Economics from Delhi University.