The amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, raising the eligible maternity leave for women with full pay from 12 to 26 weeks in all establishments passed by Rajya Sabha will be a huge relief for many women. It is a recognition of the service that a woman renders to the family and to society at large. In the past, when organisations have not accommodated adequate maternity leave, women have struggled to pick up from where they left off, tending to take leave more frequently, being distracted on the job, eventually affecting their performance at work. This amendment is a progressive, long-overdue accomplishment that indicates social and economic advancement, holding tremendous benefits for the working women in India’s job market. While women have become economically independent over the decades, men have begun playing a larger role in parenthood. Mothers need more time with their newly-borns and this change will certainly work against their long-term fight for equality in the workplace and giving their partners an equal share of responsibility around the home and in bringing up children.
Vinod C. Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)