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Working Women too, With a Dream of Good Childcare

Context

World Health Organization report has recently pointed out towards feminization of poverty due to informal nature of work. This has affected women’s maternal health and the health of her child. With 95% of Indian women being employed in the informal sector of the economy as per International Labour Organization, the issue becomes even more pertinent.

Relevance

GS-I: Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated Issues, Poverty and Developmental issues, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

GS-II: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Steps taken to address Maternal Health Benefits and other issues
  • Challenges faced by Women working in Informal Sector
  • What can be done for the women working in Informal Sector
  • Way Forward

Steps taken to address Maternal Health Benefits and other issues

  • Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 – Doubled the duration of paid maternity leaves and proposed the concept of work from home with the consent of the employer.
  • Creche facilities were made mandatory for Organizations with 50 or more employees under the Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 and National Creche Scheme was introduced.
  • Anganwadi Centers have helped train women in addressing various issues pre and post pregnancy along with the issue of childcare.
  • National Food Security Act, 2013 has accorded pregnant and lactating mothers benefit of Rs. 6000.
  • Several States such as Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have tried to bridge the gap between the various incentives provided by Centre and the States.

Challenges faced by Women working in Informal Sector

  • Lack of holistic healthcare services including maternal, neonatal and child health.
  • No fixed working hours and low pay.
  • No Social Security benefits or job security.
  • Lack of Infrastructure at primary health care centers and the Anganwadi.
  • Lack of financial help to various schemes being run for them.
  • Compensation provided by many schemes is less than the minimum wages and does not match the inflation adjusted benchmark provided by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • Family as an institution lacks awareness and expertise required to deal with the tensions of a worker-mother.

What can be done for the Women Working in Informal Sector

  • Encourage the formalization of economy to bring more women under the various security schemes of the government.
  • Expansion of timings of Anganwadi and catering to children below 3 years of age to better suit the childcare needs of Working Women.
  • National Creche Scheme needs to be more inclusive with a clustered approach near worksite and workplace to assist working women.
  • Financial outlays of such institutions can be improved by providing special grants and allocating various cess charges to them.
  • Spreading awareness about various schemes and programs.

Way Forward

Indian women can contribute immensely to the growth and development of the nation and form an essential component of the Demographic Dividend of India. A report by McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that India could add $770 billion to its GDP by 2025, simply by giving equal opportunities to women. Social Security for the women in informal sector creates a better atmosphere and gives them the work life balance between their work and maternal health and childcare.

Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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