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Women are integral part of our society. According to census 2011, females contribute to 48.5% of the Indian population. Traditionally, Indian women had been home makers. In late decades, with the spread of education and better awareness, along with increasing cost of living, women have shifted from home to career.

Like many other countries, India has provided a stage for growth and development for women. However, women in India are still seen as the family manager back home. This attitude of the society has put dual responsibilities on women: pursuing a career and economic independence, while continuing, to bear the stress of household work. It can eventually take a toll on women’s physical and mental health.

The plight of scores of other working mothers is no different from Archana’s. Lack of proper infrastructure means mothers have to suffer to be bread winners or support their families. Several other mothers give up on their careers and lifestyle due to lack of adequate facilities. Those in the un-organised sector however, don’t even have that option, their plight is far worse.

The biggest challenge to work as women in this country and then when you are a mother it adds to your challenges.

Lack of infrastructure not only in physical infrastructure but the sensitivity that should be present across the companies, across government towards a lactic mother or any other mother

To be able to be approachable for her specific needs or be considerate for her needs like flexible working hours

For some, it is easy to say that now after becoming a mother, take a break and come after a few years. What happens therefore is when she is back after a gap she doesn’t get the job she deserves and thus, another set of challenges and struggles are set for her.

Some of the solutions that can be incorporated:

At policy level:

Every establishment which is engaging more than 10 women must have a creche and must have good facilities for the women

An amendment in the maternity Act was also introduced that is all women in this country who are working are entitled to avail the facility of 26 weeks of maternity leave so that they can take care of their infant.

At an organisation level:

  • Crèche on campus
  • Mother’s resting and feeding room
  • Performance rating for new and entrant mothers will not be affected by their absence from work during maternity. Performance appraisal guidelines from CEO and HR must clearly communicate that maternity, long leave and special leaves are given appropriate ratings, and should be transparently communicated and implemented across the organization.
  • Active support from the team manager or business leader, to organize the workload of expectant mothers going on maternity leave, while ensuring continued performance of the team in their absence.
  • “On-ramping” of women employees who return from maternity—re-skilling and re-integrating as a key priority to engage them back to work.
  • Flexi-time work policies for new and entrant mothers during for the first year of their return from maternity. This can be equally applied by manufacturing, finance, banking, IT-related, pharma, hospitality, telecommunications—and all sectors of the economy.
  • Options to work from home during maternity—especially if this is part of the medical advise to expectant mothers.
  • Gender sensitization and awareness training programs for other employees and managers.
  • Grievance Redressal Council—especially for women employees who have resumed post maternity.
  • Congratulatory triggers should be sent to those who have applied for maternity and paternity leave. This practice is usually very well received and has tremendous emotive appeal.
  • The decline in female work force participation rate may be attributed to factors like increased educational attendance and higher level of participation in education and insufficient formal wage employment opportunities etc.
  • Establishment of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to coordinate the skill development schemes across various sectors.
  • National Career Service (NCS) Project comprises of a digital portal that provides a nation-wide online platform for jobseekers and employers for job matching in a dynamic, efficient and responsive manner and has a repository of career content.
  • Enactment of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 which provides for enhancement in paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks and provisions for mandatory crèche facility in the establishments having 50 or more employees
  • Issue of an advisory to the States under the Factories Act, 1948 for permitting women workers in the night shifts with adequate safety measures.
  • In order to enhance the employability of female workers, the Government is providing training to them through a network of Women Industrial Training institutes, National Vocational Training Institutes and Regional Vocational Training Institutes.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of similar nature without any discrimination.
  • Further, under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the wages fixed by the appropriate Government are equally applicable to both male and female workers and the Act does not discriminate on the basis of gender.

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