To: Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women & Child Development
A Crèche In Your Office Too
Women make up 24% of India’s workforce. But only 5% of them reach the top layer, compared to the global average of 20%. While there are many reasons for this imbalance, the absence of day-care at the workplace keeps millions of working women from working. This is why I’m asking the Ministry of Women and Child Development to make it mandatory by law for corporates to have crèches for parents at workplaces.
Why is this important?
15 years ago, I was one of them. I had to choose between full-time work and my daughter. Needless to say, I chose my daughter and was a stay-at-home mother for 5 years. These hard choices need to end. The modern Indian workplace, rather than force women to choose between work and children, needs to keep pace with the changing roles of women.
This will only happen if your Ministry makes it mandatory for every establishment with 20 or more women workers to set up and maintain a crèche for children under the age of six. The good part is that you don’t have to start something new because the groundwork for this is already in place.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers currently covers tribal, rural and urban children across 449 districts. And in 2013, the Ministry of Women and Child Development – now your ministry – passed a resolution (No. 16-1/2012-CW-I) to “provide and promote crèche and day care facilities for children of working mothers, mothers belonging to poor families, ailing mothers and single parents.”
This is laudable. But if a crèche facility is mandatory for factories, plantations and beedi and cigar workers, what is stopping the government from making it mandatory for private companies?
Day-care at the workplace will change the lives of millions of working women. It will be great for children. It will reduce pressure on the family to provide childcare while parents go to work. And because a happy workplace is a productive workplace, it will be good for the companies too.
On behalf of every working mother who stopped working for want of access to day-care, I ask you to use your mandate and turn your Ministry’s resolution into law.
There are many things we must do to level the playing field, but let’s start here.