A groundbreaking paternity leave policy at Yahoo, where new fathers are given 8 weeks of paid leave. As FEM questions appropriate division of labor in Indian households, this policy could transform the way families think about the role of fathers as caregivers.
MUMBAI: The woman who brings home the roti used to be seen as an aberration earlier. Today, this societal mindset is fast changing. Across the economic spectrum, several women are assuming the role of the main provider for their families—either due to circumstance or by choice.
Despite their perceived talents for multi-tasking & communication, few believe women make good team leaders. Women in Mumbai have reached the top of the rung, set up their own ventures and broken through former male bastions, yet gender stereotypes persist .
In a small office in south Delhi, a little candle burns in the middle of a table. It’s flanked by posters of Irom Sharmila and pamphlets describing the Manipur Gun Survivors Network. A beautifully beaming Binalakshmi Nepram , 38, founder of the network, greets you from behind the posters and papers with a very basic question: why is it that in conflict zones like the Northeast, women are left out of peace talks? It’s a question that immediately brings home a fundamental point about women’s movements in India. That they are not of, by and for women alone. They are about balance. And peace. And perspective. Not a woman’s or a man’s perspective, but a perspective that removes men from the centre of war, peace and politics. A perspective that says correcting the imbalance is just basic humanity. It’s maths. In Manipur, the maths makes victims of women and it’s essentially men that are the perpetrators on both sides — the armed forces and the insurgents. Beena tells Revati Laul about her journey as a woman from the Northeast and as an activist.
On 29 October 2012, the Supreme Court of India expressed its dismay that the Vishaka guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace were “followed more in breach than in substance and spirit by State functionaries”. Regretting the fact that the government has failed to finalise appropriate legislation in this regard, the Court gave employers a two-month deadline “to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment”. The fate of that deadline is as yet unknown, but happily the intervening month has also seen the submission of justice Verma Committee’s recommendations. Its report has also castigated the government’s inaction on this regard and stringently criticised the Government’s Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012.
ON 23 JANUARY,following the gangrape and death of a 23-year-old girl in New Delhi, the Justice JS Verma Commission came up with a set of recommendations for the protection of women and improving law and order in the country. The landmark report addressed, among other things, the issue of police reforms and sexual crimes against women, transgenders, gays, lesbians and women in prostitution.
INDIA INC has been shy to take a public stand on the ongoing debate around rape, women workers and gender equality. Laws are in place, but self-regulation is not. There is tremendous oversight in how male workers behave with female colleagues. There is little realisation that what managements “let pass” can become reasons enough for emboldening people at the wrong juncture.
“India Inc doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” says Vinita Bali, MD of biscuit and food company Britannia. “We shouldn’t just pay lip service to gender equality, but also follow up on action and behaviour.”