Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DoPT takes the lead in opening crèches in government buildings; ministries may earmark spaces soon

THE Central government has been exploring the possibility of opening more crèches in government buildings so as to facilitate the young mothers to bring their young children to the office. The issue cropped up during a review meeting on the implementation of the guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace held on April 16, the minutes of which were released only…
last week. Secretary, personnel, Sanjay Kothari advised the participants “to explore the possibility of earmarking spaces in their buildings, so that crèches could come up at more places”, according to the minutes of the meeting. As many as 72 senior bureaucrats who represent the complaints committees (on sexual harassment of women at the workplace) in their respective departments, were present in the meeting. Some participants raised the question of need to have crèches in government buildings and “requested Secretary (P) to direct DoPT officials to play an active role in setting up of crèches in more buildings”. Secretary, personnel, assured that the needful could be done, adding that proactive role has to be played by the departments concerned.
The officers who were present in the meeting included Rashmi Goel, joint secretary in MHA, Suman Suchita Bara, deputy secretary in ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, director in water resources ministry, Rashmi Sinha of Central Vigilance Commission, Ishita Roy, joint secretary in the department of higher education, Saheli Ghosh, director in the department of expenditure, Vandana Jain, director in the ministry of agriculture, SK Shahi, director in the ministry of coal,  Mukta Goel, director in DOPT, Dr Alka Suri of DRDO, Kusum Singh, joint secretary in the ministry of defence, to name a few.
During the UPA-I government, the issue of opening crèches in government buildings came up, but the follow-up actions turned out to be halfhearted. Eight years ago, the then women and child development ministry secretary Deepa Jain Singh asked all secretaries of Central government departments to access the number of women who needed crèche facilities for their young children. There is also a scheme called “Rajiv Gandhi Creche Scheme” but funds of which are used in opening crèches for women working in unorganized sector.
According to an article published in The Indian Express on April 12, the DoPT would spend Rs 5 lakh each for a ministry to provide space for a crèche. The ministry concerned then would hire, train and pay to nurses for looking after children between 9 am and 5.30 pm. Any department with more than 15 women employees would be eligible for this grant.

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