New Delhi: The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed by the Lok Sabha is a huge step towards the reproductive health and rights of women. The decision to increase the maternity benefit for working women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks will allow them to take care of the child during the child’s most important formative stage. In addition, the benefit of 12 weeks being extended to adopting mothers will be a crucial period for the mother to develop a bond with the adopted child and encourage the much-needed adoption of more children. This bill will pave way for much better and improved maternal and infant health indicators in the future. Women will not have to deal with the socio-economic pressures of choosing between work and family or have to choice but to work post pregnancy due to financial conditions. This bill enables the woman with choice and offers the opportunity to balance motherhood and work.
Commenting on the development, Mrs Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI) says, “In continuation of the celebration of International Women’s Day, the Labour Ministry has strengthened the position of women in the workforce by increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Women should not have to choose between becoming a mother and keeping their job, and the amendment of the Maternity Bill is a landmark step in this direction; it empowers women both as caregivers and workers. PFI welcomes the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 as we continue to ensure women’s reproductive health and rights that empower them and recognise them as significant members of the workforce. We need to create a culture where women make choices and not sacrifices.”