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ET Women's Forum: India Inc has to create supportive ecosystem to retain women

Women need the right support system from the corporate world.

ET Bureau|
Feb 11, 2019, 12.52 PM IST
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(From left) Advaita Kala and Diana Hayden
(From left) Advaita Kala and Diana Hayden
The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019 took forward the mission that it launched last year — to collaboratively and urgently build a sustainable culture of empowering India’s half a billion women — through a scintillating day of conversations and debates about encouraging greater participation and reducing gender inequality in every sphere of life, work, and play.

Companies in India need to create a supportive ecosystem for new mothers to prevent high-potential talent from leaving the workplace at a key life stage, a panel of women from diverse walks of life said at the ET Women’s Forum. This could include policies such as flexible work hours, paternity leave, etc.

“It is important for companies to look at a paternity policy and look at parenthood as a responsibility of both the partners rather than the mother alone,” said Monisha Srichand, founder and director, TalkItOver Counselling Services. “It’s a huge transition. It’s a new life stage and it’s time that companies, society and community structure prepare a man and a woman to become parents.”

Women need the right support system from the corporate world, said the panel. “We need supportive policies, which so many companies in India do not have. We have to ask ourselves how we can support the woman in this key life stage,” said Srichand.

(From left) Monisha Srichand and Firuza Parikh
(From left) Monisha Srichand and Firuza Parikh

However, it should be up to women to opt for motherhood or not, said Advaita Kala, author and screenwriter, at the panel discussion on motherhood and career. Scientific methods such as assisted reproductive technology, surrogacy, etc, have made such choices possible.

Kala, who has written the screenplay of films like 'Anjaana Anjaani' and 'Kahaani', said there is still pressure to be a parent and both men and women share this burden in Indian society. Firuza Parikh, director of assisted reproduction and genetics at Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, said there is an increasing number of young single women who want to freeze their eggs today.

“Five-six years ago, lots of women and even men would ideate about freezing their eggs. But back then, it was just a thought crossing their mind and perhaps I would never see that person again,” she said. “Today, lots of young women who are career oriented but have not found the right person to take them through parenthood, are coming forward, not just ideating but putting the thoughts into action to freeze their eggs if they don’t want to have a baby right away.”
Diana Hayden with twins Rhys and Taylor, husband Collin Dick and daughter Arya
Diana Hayden with twins Rhys and Taylor, husband Collin Dick and daughter Arya

Srichand added that while it is important to prepare for motherhood biologically, it is equally important to prepare psychologically.

On the question of whether motherhood affects a women’s career, former Miss World Diana Hayden said that in the worlds of fashion and cinema it didn’t matter as long as one met the requirements of the assignment. “No matter how we want to phrase it, at the end of the day we are in the glamour world,” she said.

This panel was moderated by Tanya Chaitanya, editor, Femina.

ET Women's Forum: Gig By Transgender Music Band, Talking Start-Ups & Beyond #MeToo

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