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Men/Father/Brother/Grandpa (etc): Gender Equality| Srestha Nandy

Did you ever think about the role of mother and father towards their kid or kids? It is a lifetime job with endless responsibilities to death. Starting early morning from preparing the breakfast for all the members of the family, dressing up the children for their school, packing their lunches, tying their shoelaces to getting them to the school buses. All these household chores get done only with the help of our parents; helping and supporting each other and every moment. Wait one second, you only thought that I was going to mention mother behind all these, seriously?


This is the 21st century we are part of nuclear families, just give a reality check to yourself! And yes our fathers do help our mothers with household chores. Here we all are part of modernization with working parents who do maintain a great work-life balance. But still the society does stick to the stigma which revolves around the scenario where men are the only breadwinners and women are at their respective houses engaged with housekeeping and child-rearing.



Today when one scrolls any page related to equality on our Instagram page, definitely one will come across the word ‘feminism’ or in simpler words the post will be in favor of seeking equality for women. From this to our legal system there are laws for women supporting their existence, dignity, liberty, etc. There is Article 15 clause 3 of the Indian Constitution specifically for women and children. The case of Menka Gandhi vs Union of India is a landmark example favoring Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Even to make the comparison more interesting we also have women generic movies like Manikarnika, Mardaani, Pink, Neerja, etc. So, with all these the concepts of strong women is pretty clear. But there is also something. Are we not forgetting men, our fathers, our brothers, our uncles? Are we not skipping the fact about the male members present in the family, who are supporting the females to shine, to achieve success? The efforts of the father to let his daughter have a proper education to become independent and be one of the eminent strong women. Asking for equality is good, but comparing with men, criticizing them, taking advantage of their abilities are not at all justified.



Talking about our working mothers, there is a whole act The Maternity Benefit Act 2017, supporting their paid leaves from their workplace which are granted for the wellbeing of her child. But towards the fathers; only 15 days a year! He is also a parent; he also has a child to take care of. As much as the mother needs to present with the child, the father also does. The provisions regarding the leaves are only mentioned under the leave rules, for State and Central Employees. Only 8.2% of the maternity leave is provided to the male employees having children, as paternity leaves. Even the term ‘paternity’ signifies parents which include both the parents. But what about the real scenario?


To this instance, unlike women men do not have a whole act, as legal support. Also, one of the important aspects that till now India does not have any laws in favor of homosexual couples, where the acceptance of homosexual couples has been approved in 2018. So in their case, it becomes a major issue for the sanction of paternity leave, in respect to this the surrogacy and adoption cases also suffer. There were researches to explore whether there is equality in the case of paid leaves for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. It has been found that in OECD countries, there are equal provisions for both types of couples. But in the case of females in the case of same-sex and different-sex receive equal durations of leave, but this is not the same for the male partners. The same-sex male couple often receives a shorter duration of parental leaves as compared to both types of couples. From further research it has been found that countries like Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, and Sweden are the only countries that have the same policies regarding paid paternity leaves for all couples from 80 to 70 weeks. But in the cases of India, there are only some reputed organizations that provide paid parental leaves to same-sex couples. For example, Zomato is the first company to provide a paid leave of 26 weeks for both parents. Further, they stated that the company will provide $1000 per child as an endowment to parents of the newborn child working in the company. This policy is also applied to same-sex partners, surrogacy, and adoption. The founder of Zomato Deepinder Goyal also said “There won’t be even an iota of difference in parental leave policy for men and women at Zomato.” He also mentioned that an unequal leave policy for men and women incurs imbalances at the higher positions in the organization. As regards this, why are our government organizations not taking this as a matter of concern? Now we have the support of Section 377 IPC, in favor of our claim. Till today we have no laws favoring the adoption of homosexual couples, leave policy for surrogate mothers, and even for single parents. In contrast to our developing economy, the policies by our legislation, are still not at the same pitch.



Cases are linking to this aspect of paternity leave, where the petitioner has applied for the paternity leave. But at the time the concerned authority did not sanction the leave and further asked him to apply under the existing policies, for leave. The petitioner was a Post Graduate Teacher of the N.K. Bagrodia Public School, and to the records of the concerned organization, there were no existing policies for paternity leave. Since 2009 and before that, the employees and other professionals are facing this issue without proper legal support. When a matter is not settled and approaches the court, the verdict takes a lot of time to arrive and in the majority of the cases, the petitioners are bound by terms and conditions. Again, with another petition, where the salary has been deducted for 15 days, of the employee and had been regarded as absent for the mentioned absent time interval. Here the petitioner was a driver at Delhi Transport Corporation, had applied for paternity leave for his second newborn, to which it has been denied with the justification that there are no policies favoring paternity leave for DTC employees. The aforesaid situation is another instance, where employees are suffering financial losses only due to blurred policies.


So hereby after coming across so many instances, where the majority are in losses, it feels like there is an urgent need to undergo some modifications, to the existing policies regarding this context. There should be provisions supporting all kinds of circumstances, from a homosexual couple to single parents. The present scenario also consists of male widows bearing two children. So our government needs to ensure such policies that these children may not be deprived of parental care due to lack of policies and workload of the workplace. So the societal stigma of men as breadwinners needs a quite proper modification, as the father spends more time with their family the child gets more attached with the father. Today’s nuclear families need the father’s presence in all activities from rituals and religion to academics. Through this aspect, the child will be exposed to the lifestyle of both the parents and this would add up more leanings to the child regarding how a family runs, about the bond that their parents share, taking care of each other in their low times, supporting and respecting the choices of others. A small change will bring greater impact and of course it felt in near future and visible with time, considering the bigger picture this initiative will be a step towards a prudent future.





References:

  1. The Constitution of India, Art 15, clause 3.

  2. Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India on 25 January, 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621

  3. The Constitution of India, Art 21

  4. The Maternity Benefit Act 2017

  5. ELIZABETH WON JUDY JOU, AMY RAUB and JODY HEYMANN, Comparing the availability of paid parental leave for same-sex and different-sex couples in 34 OECD countries, Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2019

  6. Zomato introduces 26-week paid parental leave for both men and women, Business today; 10th June 2019

  7. What is Section 377 of IPC? The Times of India; 21st December 2018

  8. Chander Mohan Jain vs. N.K. Bagrodia Public School and Ors Delhi High Court Sept 9 2009.

  9. Vijender Kumar vs Delhi Transport Corporation, GOVT of NCTD, Central Administrative Tribunal march 15 2016

#genderequality #paternityleave #equallaws #genderroles

 
 
 
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