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In a historic first step towards gender equality in India’s service sector, Deutsche Bank (DB) has recently made parental leave gender agnostic.
Starting January 1st, 2017, the company will provide six months of parental leave in India to the primary caregiver, whether it is the mother or the father. This policy is being rolled out it in all its Asia Pacific offices.
Earlier in June 2016, DB had revised its maternity leave from 16 weeks to 26 weeks (inclusive of public holidays and non-working days) and paternity leaves from 5 to 10 working days. The non-primary caregiver can continue taking 10 working days of paid leave after the child is born or a child below 7 years of age is adopted.
This is what the internal note circulated among DB employees in India states:
“The new parental leave policy centres on the caregiver’s responsibility, rather than tie parental leave to gender, and replaces what was previously called maternity/paternity leave. It also covers surrogacy and adoption and aligns it with parental leave entitlements. Deutsche Bank employees who are new parents can choose to either be the primary caregiver or the non-primary caregiver within the duration of the parental leave.”
This is truly a wonderful step towards gender empowerment. When our ministers are still left debating whether paternal leave should be increased or not, this seems to show the right way forward. Also, whether a child is born to his or her parents or is being adopted, the leaves apply in all the cases, doing away with all the discrimination as to how the child was brought into the family.
Finally, by taking this step, DB clearly shows that either of the parents is capable of becoming the primary caregiver and can take on the main responsibilities of the child, thereby giving a choice to the parents to decide how they wish to manage childcare alongside their professional aspirations.
In a country like India, where the biggest achievement for a woman is still considered to be motherhood, and looking after the child her primary responsibility that should surpass all her other dreams, this does come as a breath of fresh air. Also, when there are increasing instances of men being willing to take up on childcare but not being able to do so because of their restricted leaves, this looks like a move that will benefit both the genders.
In today’s times, where both the partners mostly tend to have their own careers, then why is it that the woman should be expected to make all the sacrifices in domestic matters, including childcare? Also, in many professional fields, a woman is sometimes discriminated on the basis of whether she decides to have a baby and go for a leave. Under such a leave policy, such discrimination can be done away with.
This is indeed a huge step forward for women empowerment and discarding of the traditional gender roles. We do hope more companies come forward to follow the footsteps of DB in the future.
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