Providing paid childcare leave to both men and women and launching a national campaign to “share the load” of unpaid domestic work by women are among the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the Union Ministries concerned for increasing women’s participation in the workforce.
The NHRC’s core group on women met on November 17 to discuss the decreasing participation of women in the workforce. A compilation of the recommendations would soon be sent to the Ministries concerned, including Women and Child Development, Education, Home Affairs, Labour and Employment and Skill Development, NHRC member Jyotika Kalra, who chaired the meeting, said on Saturday.
The recommendations included strict implementation of existing laws, including for paid maternity leave of 26 weeks and prevention of sexual harassment at workplace. Paid childcare leave of up to two years for the mother and father should be provided, the minutes of the meeting said.
“Entitling only mother to claim this leave, puts the woman at disadvantageous position qua her professional achievements… Gender stereotyping of roles should be stopped through education, especially the role of woman inside the house and role of man outside the house…Conduct workshops for men to understand that household chores are not just women’s responsibility. Maternity leave should be provided to female students in higher education,” the NHRC core group said.
‘Grant small loans’
In rural areas, there was need to impart skill education and provide small loans to women so they can go beyond agriculture and allied activities. The group also said accredited social health activists (ASHA), anganwadi and sanitation workers should be paid in accordance with the minimum wages set by the government. In urban areas, an employment guarantee scheme along the lines of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) with reservation for women should be introduced, it said.
“Skill development in non-traditional and unconventional livelihood areas like driving, plumber, carpenter, electrician etc. should be encouraged. Opportunities available to skilled women in urban areas are often gendered (like working in beauty parlours or as tailors) despite women being qualified to do various other jobs. Gender stereotyping in job opportunities needs to end,” the NHRC core group said.
There should be investment in the care economy by the state, as well as the option of taking leave to care for the elderly and persons with disabilities, the group said.
“Home-based workers are rarely counted in any economic survey. Unpaid work should also be surveyed so that their contribution is recognised.”
The core group also recommended that the government ensure there was no gender-based wage gap.
“Discrimination and inequality are rampant and well-drafted laws are required for ensuring that such practices are eradicated from the labour market,” the group said, according to the minutes of the meeting.