Centre advisory seeks to bolster women’s role across depts | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Centre advisory seeks to bolster women’s role across depts

Jan 31, 2024 07:48 AM IST

The collaborative plan comes amid concerns over the low participation of women, about 35.9%, in the workforce, officials aware of the matter said

New Delhi The Union government on Tuesday launched an interministerial effort to push for greater participation by women in the workforce, releasing an advisory for employers to promote equal participation in the workplace by enforcing statutory provisions, stressing on national minimum standards and protocols for crèches, and starting a public survey on facilities available to women at workplaces.

Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bhupender Yadav release a booklet during the 'Women in the Workforce for Viksit Bharat' event, in New Delhi on Tuesday (ANI)
Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bhupender Yadav release a booklet during the 'Women in the Workforce for Viksit Bharat' event, in New Delhi on Tuesday (ANI)

The collaborative plan comes amid concerns over the low participation of women, about 35.9%, in the workforce, officials aware of the matter said. The Narendra Modi-led government has also been pushing for women’s participation in the workforce through various education and skill development initiatives, they added.

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Some of the efforts were rolled out in an event titled “Women in the Workforce for Viksit Bharat”, jointly organised by the labour ministry and the women & child development ministry.

According to an advisory handbook released by the labour ministry, the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) indicates that there has been an increase in women’s workforce participation from 22 % in 2017-18 to 35.9%in 2022-23. “Though women’s participation in the workforce has increased in recent years, there is ample scope for further improvement that can be addressed through effective implementation of existing policies by employers,” the advisory said.

The advisory to employers is a sort of a ready reckoner of labour provisions related to women, including in the flagship Factories Act, 1948. Chapter 5 of the act mandates all employers and establishments covered by the act to have restrooms, crèches, canteens and medical facilities within the factory premises. Similar provisions are mandated under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act (BoCWA), 1996, including setting up of women welfare facilities through the BoCWA cess fund.

The advisory reiterates the strict implementation of The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a key act governing women’s work conditions which was amended in 2017 to include provisions related to creches and surrogate mothers.

It also stresses that employers should provide paid maternity leave as per the law.

“The advisory for female construction workers across the country mandates them to be given 26 weeks of maternity leave by their employers. Now, this is nothing less than revolutionary, not just putting ink to paper, but ensuring officers actively consider the availability of such facilities to women,” WCD minister Smriti Irani said at the event.

“As per the advisory, the wage of women construction workers has to be transferred through an online medium to avoid them getting duped by their supervisory..Now that the advisory is given, it becomes easy for the officers and the ministry to compute the impact of such advisories to the female construction workforce across the country,” she added.

The advisory further talks about the proactive role employers must play in implementing policies and programmes to encourage women to join the workforce. It emphasises the need for employers to facilitate a safe and supportive environment for female workers during night shifts, ensuring transportation services for pick-up and drop-off, especially during nighttime hours.

Union labour and employment minister Bhupender Yadav said that the most effective way to empower women is through a women-led development approach. “Under the leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi ji, India is taking giant strides in this direction. The Ministry of Labour and Employment is working towards ensuring women lead from the front with easy access to markets and global value chains,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the two ministries, via the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), launched a survey seeking details about policies and initiatives that have been taken at the workplace for women. They included, constitution of internal complaints committee for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace (POSH), creche facilities, equal pay, flexible timing or options for remote work and availability of transportation facilities during late hours for women. The survey was shared via text messages.

The WCD ministry also released the National Minimum Standards and Protocol for Crèches (Operation and Management) that it has prepared in consultation with the labour ministry.

The ministry of housing & urban affairs and the ministry of road transport & highways also issued advisories for women workforce participation and their safety security in the building, construction and highways sectors.

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