Affordable day care, equal wages high on working women’s minds

Anvita Srivastava
Saturday, 20 April 2019

Alka Singh, a designing professional working in Pune, said, “Nowadays both the parents are working and not everyone can leave their children at home. Private day care facilities are very costly.” 

PUNE: Working women from Pune feel that inequality in wages and lack of government-authorised affordable day care facility for children are the two topmost areas in which the next government at the Centre should aim at. Women said that with this in mind, they would go to vote in this Lok Sabha Elections. 

The current government’s policies regarding maternity leave and Income Tax exemption up to Rs 5 lakh were lauded by all.

DAY CARE FACILITY
Alka Singh, a designing professional working in Pune, said, “Nowadays both the parents are working and not everyone can leave their children at home. Private day care facilities are very costly.” 

She will go to vote on April 23 with the hope that government-authorised day care centres with good facilities will come up to help working women.

DISPARITY IN WAGES
Women being paid less for the same amount of work done by their male counterparts is also a burning topic for many. “Wage inequality is a big problem -- if that cannot be solved, then at least women’s working hours should be reduced,” added Singh. However, income tax benefits offered this year by the Central government ticked all the right boxes. 

Geetika Awasthi, a city-based teacher whose income is less than Rs 5 lakh, said, “This tax exemption has reduced a lot of burden as I do not need to pay taxes.”  

“Working women also face hardships at office premises like lack of separate room for nursing mothers and night-time transport,” she added. 

Awasthi feels improving safe transport system for women who travel at night is necessary.

MEDICAL FACILITIES
She said more policies for proper medical facilities and education for women are needed -- on the lines of the much-needed extension of maternity leave from three to six months.  

Meghana Dekhane, a media professional, told Sakal Times that she would love to see the concept of ‘Shared Parental Leave’ to be introduced by the next government.

She lauded the present government’s decision to increase the maternity leave, saying, “This enabled me to breastfeed my baby girl without worrying about rejoining work.”

Continuing the breastfeeding journey beyond that will need policy changes at the workplace, felt Dr Bhagyashri Kashyap, an Ayurved practitioner. “There should be a separate cabin for nursing mothers in the offices and other public places,” she said.

HEALTHCARE
Kashyap said, “There should be some policies by the government that focus on primary healthcare and preventive health measures for women. Although the awareness around menstruation has increased, still there is a lot of taboo around it. It is very important for the government to address the taboo and create awareness around the same.”

She added that clean toilets in offices and in public places for women are still needed. 

WOMEN VOTERS IN PUNE
- 36.74 lakh: Number of women voters in Pune district 
- 49%: Percentage of women voters in Pune
- 6.79 lakh: Increase in number of women voters compared to 2014 Lok Sabha elections. 
Source: Pune District Collector’s office

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