Pre-Budget expectation from Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President, Avtar Group
"A formal roadmap for women in workforce is certainly the need of the hour. Women's workforce participation is on a decline in India – urban and rural. Add to that, in a system that is steeped in patriarchy, women continue to be the primary caregivers in the Indian socio-cultural milieu, the gender chore gap that factors in child care and domestic responsibilities is a whopping 352 minutes. The Gender chore gap – difference between the amount of housework done by women and men – is the largest of any country, according to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report in 2014. The chore gap is more pronounced in urban cities than in villages. Against this context, it is important that the government enables the career aspirations of millions of women in urban India through a structured enablement framework including crèche allowances for parents and child care tax incentives for employers. Introduction of tax deduction for expenses incurred for various day care facilities or crèche centers ranks high on the IWP's wish list. In addition to this, replicating the model of "Gender Budget Cell from Odisha under the Ministry of Women and Child Development along with PPP to provide Gender Planning, Budgeting and Analysis for Governmental departments and PSUs will further the women's participation in the Indian workforce landscape. Inferencing from the PLFS data, there are approximately 70 lakh employable second career women (women who were in formal employment but quit work to attend to domesticities) in urban India. For inclusive growth to set in, it is important that this talent pool is brought back to formal employment. If the Government's Support to Training and Employment Program (STEP) can also address itself to re-skilling and up-skilling second career women that can lead to them returning to formal employment. The economic and social implications for the country would be immense."