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Women IAS officers term DoPT child-care directive sexist

By IndianMandarins- 16 Jan 2019


Women IAS officers of UP have disapproved of a recent Union Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) directive on child care leave. "It's sexist," said a woman IAS officer.

In a letter to the state IAS officers' association, they have argued that the new rules — according to which the leave can be granted to female government servants and “single male government servants” — constitute a “very regressive step”.

They have pleaded that the child care leave should be made optional for both parents for a combined total of 730 days.

The new rules, applicable throughout the country, came into effect through a notification on 11 December 2018. Earlier, only women government servants could avail of child care leave. The suggestion to include single male government servants (those who are unmarried, widowers or divorcees) in the ambit of the provision for the leave was made by the Seventh Pay Commission.

Commenting on the provision on child care leave, the letter says, “This means all the female government servants are expected by the government to take care of their children all alone, without cooperation from their male counterparts. Not only is this unfair to women officers but also unfair to male officers and their children. The father should have equal opportunity to contribute to the upbringing of the children if he wishes.”

It further contends that the regulations amount to “officially announcing that caregiving of children is solely a woman’s responsibility and the men are supposed to do it only if there is no woman in the family”.

A signatory to the letter said, “This issue is an agenda point in our Annual General Body meeting (AGM), which is slated to be held on 3 February. That is a positive development for us."

The letter also points to the "substantial number of women" who are part of the service. It states that about 32 percent of the IAS officers in the 2014 batch were women, while the corresponding figure for the 2015 batch was 31 percent.

A female officer has also lamented that even paternity leave is rarely granted in Uttar Pradesh although a legal provision for it exists. "When officers apply for paternity leave, they are laughed at, or their letters are not forwarded. Since senior officers did not get paternity leave in earlier times, they are reluctant to grant the same to officers now. They ask applicants to get to work and sometimes say that applications for paternity leave are mere excuses. This is the mindset of several people."

While only a small minority of male government servants are likely to be eligible for child care leave, the paternity leave, which is open for all male members of the service, is only for fifteen days.

In its report, the Seventh Pay Commission had states, "The Commission notes that in the event a male employee is single, the onus of rearing and nurturing the children falls squarely on his shoulders. Hence extension of CCL to single male parents is recommended.”

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