Mail News Service
New Delhi, July 2 : Krishna Tirath, Union Minister for Women and Child Development presided over the national consultation on the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, here today. The aim of the national consultation with different ministries, civil society organizations, academicians and other stakeholders is to deliberate on the myriad issues affecting effective implementation of the Maternity Benefit Act.
Speaking at the occasion, the Minister said that almost half of those employed in the unorganised sector are women, and they do not derive benefits under this Act. Many don‘t even have awareness about this Act. This covers the domestic workers, agriculture labour, construction workers, forest dwellers, those who fish, etc. Women are forced to join their work soon after delivery from the fear of losing their job, Smt. Tirath stated. This has also affected the health of the small children as they cannot be breastfed at the right times. The MMR and IMR also get affected as a result of this, she said. The WCD Minister said that this discrimination needs to be eliminated by some changes to the way the Act has been operationalised. Although there are many schemes of the government such as IGMSY and Janani Suraksha Yojana, the benefits still have eluded a large section of women in the unorganised sector, Tirath noted.
Speaking at the occasion, Nita Chowdhury, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that whatever suggestions were furnished as a collective deliberation during this meet, needed to take care that they are workable and practicable, such that restrictions to their operationalisation are reduced.
Experts attending the consultation noted that the MB Act, which is one of the oldest social security Acts in the country, casts a liability on the employer for the benefits. As a result, women who are in the unorganised sector who don‘t have any employer, and are not ‘employees‘ cannot derive its benefits. This also does not benefit the casual workers as also the ‘contractual‘ employees as opposed to ‘contract labour‘. It was also noted that what is needed is to dovetail schemes such as RSBY with MB Act so that medical benefits also can be extended to the working women, more so in the unorganised sector. Some experts pointed out that even though the term ‘women‘ has been defined in the Act, there is no definition of the term ‘employee‘; thus the fulfillment of the Act gets affected. While the recent legal provisions have included domestic workers in their ambit, the Maternity Benefits Act should be extended to domestic workers through an explicit amendment.
Read more / Original news source: http://manipur-mail.com/maternity-benefits-should-reach-all-women-in-the-unorganised-sector-tirath/