“Gender sensitivity”- 14 January 2015.
Good news came from the Supreme Court last week. The honourable Chief Justice has permitted setting up of a crèche for the children of women lawyers in the premises of the apex court. It is, therefore, really good news from a point of view. If the apex court does something in the area of women welfare, then it sends a positive message to the larger society, that it has to start taking the women at workplace far more seriously than what it has been doing so far. Of course, just a crèche may not mean much. But actually it means a lot to working women! But more so, its importance gets highlighted by the fact that it is the Supreme Court in whose premises a crèche will start operating in some time. That is really a step towards sensitization of issues of women.
The issue of facilities to women at workplace is not new. On the contrary, some work has been done in India’s corporate sector where the bosses stand committed to offering women workers good enough facilities so that their comfort levels get enhanced and thereby their productivity.
The Indian scene is rather dismal on this count, no matter some work that has been done. In most business or social or Government-run organisations, women do not get the appropriate attention they deserve on account of their gender and the special needs that accompany their physical status. Certain social issues, too, get attached to the gender difference and the managements are expected to pay special attention to those.
However, the Indian society has not demonstrated an appropriate awareness about the issues related to women at work. These issues do not relate only to physical facilities like creches etc, but relate to the mindset of the leaders of various organisations. It has been found that organisation with women as heads also have not paid much attention to the issues related to special facilities to women at work.
Women do have special needs which may not be understood by male heads of organisations or may be understood but do not have the will to do anything about it. Primarily, the issue is of attitude and the mindsets of society at large. Let’s look at it like this: in the first place women have to be seen as a potential positive force and energy in the workplace and not as hindrances or a quota to be filled. This means that they have to be respected for what they bring and contribute to the economy. They are equally intelligent, hard working, sincere and more ethical than men are. They can be great workers if some sensitivity is shown towards their needs, physical as well as social. If women are to be utilised as a human resource with tremendous potential, then sensitization of her requirements have to be understood and implemented- and not mocked at as it often happens. Women get mocked at various stages of her life from getting pregnant to taking leave to celebrate religious festivals.
Women have different roles to play at social level. She is a mother, child rearing is still her sole responsibility, the kitchen is still her headache, celebrating all the year round festivals like birthdays and pujas’ is still her forte. Men of their homes still do not take ownership of domestic roles and responsibilities and still would appreciate their women working and earning a handsome salary. Many men would still not eat until his wife made ‘hot phulka’ for him. Instead of making it easy for her the demands on her just multiply. In such a situation women are stressed with the double burden of domestic and job roles and duties with no relief coming and no sensitisation of her needs. She not only struggles at the individual level but also at the social level and at the job level too where there is no one to understand her needs. India is way behind in this field and lots needs to be done to take care of the basic needs of women work force.
Beginning with a crèche is a good and positive step in the right direction with a clear and bold message by the Supreme Court.