Anganwadi workers in Delhi intensify stir for increase in pay

Thousands of women sit in protest against Delhi government, say workload has increased manifold without sufficient remuneration
Section of the road near Vikas Bhawan has turned red with women holding red flags and posters. (Photo | Ankita Upadhyay)
Section of the road near Vikas Bhawan has turned red with women holding red flags and posters. (Photo | Ankita Upadhyay)

NEW DELHI: “I have never seen so many problems in my 27 years of working as an Anganwadi worker as I have in the last five years,” says 52-year-old Mithilsh Kumari. She is sitting in protest in Delhi’s Civil Lines area, along with thousands of other women workers.

Covered in police security, a section of the road near Vikas Bhawan has turned red, with women sitting along the stretch holding red flags and posters. They are demanding from the Delhi government an increase in their honorarium.

Currently, women Anganwadi workers get a monthly honorarium of Rs 9,678 and helpers receive Rs 4,839. Their demand is to increase it to Rs 25,000 a month for workers and Rs 20,000 for helpers.“How do you think we run the house? We have families. With rising inflation and joblessness around, we are helpless and had to sit on a protest. Otherwise, the government doesn’t listen these days” said Mithilesh.

Mithilesh’s three children and her husband passed away 20 years ago and since then she has been the single earning member of her family. “Since 2016-2017, the workload has increased tremendously for us. Now we have to work with the help of mobile phones and upload data on the Poshan Tracker app everyday on a regular basis. I didn’t know how to operate a mobile phone but learned with the help of my children. This app doesn’t function properly at all and the server is down all the time,” she adds. “Our salaries get delayed for two-three months. Only I know how I manage my house,” said Mithilesh.

In a bid to earn money for the education of her children, Mithilesh also makes rotis at a nearby hotel after her Angwanwadi work finishes. She also stitches clothes whenever she gets an order placed by people living in her neighbourhood.“Had the salary been good, I wouldn’t have had to do so many odd jobs,” she says. These women, who have been at the frontline during the Covid pandemic, are not only overworked but also underpaid.

“We have been given mobile phones, and for that also we don’t get any reimbursements. Mobile bills have not been paid to us for the last two years. We travel on our own and no conveyance allowance is granted to us,” says Khushboo Sachdeva, an Anganwadi worker at Malkaganj. Khushboo has done BEd, M Com but chose to join social service.

“I’ve been working for the last two years and what I’ve witnessed is that the workload is too much. Those who are well versed with Excel sheet and computers are given work beyond their duty hours and are also made to work on their off days,” says Khushboo. “We don’t have a problem with working but we also deserve better wages,” adds Khushboo.

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