10th Mar 2017 09:03:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

In what can be termed a befitting gift this International Women’s Day, The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha today, months after the Rajya Sabha approved the measure that takes India to the third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks, respectively.

Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks, and likely to benefit about 1.8 million women. The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.

Health experts believe that it is crucial for mothers to be close to their babies for at least the first 24 months. The World Health Organisation recommends that every child should be breastfed within an hour of birth and given only breast milk for their first six months of life. Breastfeeding should ideally continue up to the age of two, along with complementary food. In India, proper breastfeeding could reduce thousands of child deaths and episodes of diarrhoea and pneumonia annually.

For women in the corporate sector, pregnancy has been no less of a curse and this move will bring relief to the working women juggling the duties of motherhood which in itself is a job no less demanding.

However, while it’s a celebration for many members of the fairer sex, it is also tragic that this bill only caters to the organised formal sector and leaves out the unorganised sector where women actually need such benefits the most. A report prepared by the National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised and Informal Sector in 2007 said that 96% of the women work in the unorganised sector. Already battling long working hours, poor wages and no job security, these women are pushed to work even late into their pregnancy and often lose their jobs while taking off time for delivery.

Not to sound like a cynic, the bill may also affect the employment of women workforce in private sector due to the long leave duration.Since the employer has to pay the salary during the leave period, the amendment might turn out to be counterproductive.

Another point which should have also been kept in mind is the fact that society is changing and more men are single parents or in cases looking after the domestic front while their better halves work. Therefore, paternity benefit is also a necessity and should have been addressed.

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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