1 April 2022 3:09 PM GMT
"An initiative which seeks to provide access to quality child care with the workplace of a parent may therefore be regarded as a welcome and salutary initiative which would facilitate retention of women within the labour force and in the legal fields and other fields," Justice B.V. Nagarathna of the Supreme Court said on Friday. Justice Nagarathna was speaking at the inauguration of the...
"An initiative which seeks to provide access to quality child care with the workplace of a parent may therefore be regarded as a welcome and salutary initiative which would facilitate retention of women within the labour force and in the legal fields and other fields," Justice B.V. Nagarathna of the Supreme Court said on Friday.
Justice Nagarathna was speaking at the inauguration of the Delhi High Court crèche facility.
The facility was inaugurated today in the presence of Supreme Court judges, Justice Indira Banerjee as the Chief Guest and Justice BV Nagarathna as the Guest of Honour. The Crèche Committee has Justice Pratibha M Singh as the Committee.
The crèche facility would be available for Members of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, Registered Clerks, Staff Members and children accompanying a litigant to the Court. Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Mukta Gupta also gave their keynote addresses in the event.
Justice Nagarathna began her address by emphasizing that no country or community or economy can achieve its potential to meet the challenges of development without full and equal participation of women.
She said, that in order to encourage more parents, especially mothers, to join and remain in the labourforce, reliable, affordable and good quality child care is essential.
"Around the globe, lack of quality child care has continued to remain a major barrier to allowing women to participate fully in the workforce. At the same time, employers are struggling more and more to address their talent needs with India being one of the most impacted countries. As far as India is concerned, it is rather disappointing … a trend within the labour force in general and in the legal profession in particular that although the entry of women is increasing, the talent is not being retained," Justice Nagarathna said.
Justice Nagarathna further added "We all know the reasons for that. One of the reasons is the inability to find an alternate caregiver when they become parents and are away at work which is a contributory factor to such a trend. An initiative which seeks to provide access to quality child care with the workplace of a parent may therefore be regarded as a welcome and salutary initiative which would facilitate retention of women within the labour force and in the legal fields and other fields."
She further remarked that research has shown that where such facilities are provided, the parameters of employee productivity, employee retention, and the quality of talent made available has significantly improved.
"I have firmly believed that maternity should not be a barrier for the careers of women to plateau or dip. Motherhood must not result in a situation where women are passed over for promotions and hiring. It is in that context that I state providing access to quality child care at the workplace would play a significant role in ensuring that motherhood does not become an insurmountable barrier to women's empowerment. The responsibilities of motherhood and those of career in my opinion are both pursuits that are challenging for women," she added.
Justice Nagarathna further said that the need for reforms in enabling parental participation in the development of their children and towards making available quality child care, even in absence of parental participation, has been further enhanced in light of COVID pandemic situation.
On the other hand, Justice Banerjee began her speech by reminiscing her time at the Calcutta High Court wherein a crèche was inaugurated, which was the idea of Justice Manjula Chellur, the then Chief Justice of High Court.
"Unfortunately, we didn't have much money. That crèche was setup mainly by contributions from us and some money which could be spared," she added.
Unfortunately, Justice Banerjee added that she was told afterwards that the crèche which was established in the Calcutta High Court gradually became non functional.
"I request the members of the committee to give adequate publicity to the fact that there is a crèche. Tell the parents so that they can confidently leave their children in the crèche," she said at the outset.
Justice Banerjee said that she first realized the use of a crèche after coming to the Supreme Court.
"Supreme Court has a crèche. My PA used to leave her little child at the crèche and then report to duty. But unfortunately with the outbreak of the pandemic, the crèche was closed, the Courts were closed, nursery schools were closed and here this lady, she was in immense difficulty. I tried to accommodate to the extent possible. It was not even possible to bring children out in those days so she was the one who had to make a sacrifice. She was the one who had to take leave all the time stay at home," she said.
Stating further that the children of today are the adults of tomorrow and that the future of this Country, the world, depends on the children, how we bring them up, Justice Banerjee said that Children have to be brought up with care, love and affection.
"Parenting is of course a joint responsibility. It's not the responsibility of the woman alone but there is a deep rooted mindset and that pervades down through all levels of society, we judges included," Justice Banerjee said.
She added "I was just wondering, why all the members of the crèche committee, Justice Hima Kohli, Justice Mukta Gupta, Justice Palli, Justice Singh, why are they all women? Why no men in the Committee? And why did Aditi, who is the Registrar Vigilance has to be put in charge of the crèche? This is because of the mindset. It is the woman who is responsible for rearing the child."
Congratulating the members of the Committee for the initiative, Justice Banerjee said that thus:
"Child rearing is important for everyone. Those who work, those who are professionals who are in business but so far as employees and officials are concerned, they are entitled to get some leave. What about the professionals? If they have to stay away from the profession for a long time, they will not just be absent for that day, they will gradually start losing their clients. If the shop is constantly closed, the customers will go to another shop. They may wait for a few days after that they'll say what to do. After all nobody comes for the High Court for fun. There are lot of stakes involved when people come to the High Court."
"I feel that this creche will be of immense benefit not only to the employees and officers. It will be of immense benefit for the lawyers practicing in the High Court. They will be able to practice freely, they will be able to concentrate on their work, there will be less of absence, they will be able to take shorter leave for childcare and maternity."
"I am sure that a crèche of this kind will help us have a group of children who'll become responsible citizens in future and it will give parents, women and men alike a lot of relief to find their children being well tended and well looked after."