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United States
No Paid Maternity Leave For American Women
Elayne Clift

Here’s something Indian women have and their American counterparts don’t: paid maternity leave. In fact, that’s exactly what America has in common with Papua New Guinea - they are the only countries that don’t have guaranteed paid maternity leave. In over half of the nearly 200 countries that do provide paid leave at last 14 weeks of compensated time off is granted. But in the United States, new parents aren’t guaranteed any paid time off. Instead, if they have worked for a certain amount of time at a company with 50 or more employees, they can take 12 unpaid weeks off for the arrival of a new child or for the care of a parent or spouse. Various studies have shown that for each additional month that a woman has paid parental leave infant mortality goes down by three percent. That is important to note in a country that has the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialised nation in the world. Further, mother-child bonding is stronger and babies are breastfed more when mothers can stay with their babies longer. Of course, paid parental leave is also good for business: productivity goes up, along with morale, and there is less workforce turnover.

‘It’s shocking that the United States has yet to match the standards for Family Leave that other nations have had in place for years, especially since research continues to show the pressing need for paid family and medical leave for working families.’

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 WFS Ref: USAP613 850 words

Step Into The World Of Working Indian Women
Book Excerpt

When Alice Clark, historian and scholar of gender and society in India, decided to look into what led Indian women to seek a career, and also trace the change in ambition in them over the decades, she had several questions in mind: how are their choices shaped or constrained by the web of relationships in which they are embedded? How are the changes in their choices being shaped by historical forces that are still unfolding? What effects do their choices have on the overall system of social reproduction? The answers to these and many other queries centred on women’s work are reflected in her latest book, ‘Valued Daughters: First-Generation Career Women’, published by Sage Publications, which outlines the spread of ambition among young urban women in the country, who are affecting many changes by stepping out of their traditional roles to pursue higher education and jobs in cities. In this excerpt, let’s take a look at who is a career-minded young woman’s staunchest supporter in the family, before and sometimes even after marriage.

“They never regretted not having a son; they’ve always encouraged us to do everything a boy would do. … He wants to complete his dreams through me.”

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 WFS Ref: INDP616 1200 words

This One’s For The Special Children
Smita Deodhar

Bengaluru-based Hamsa Priya is a spirited mother of two, who has taken it upon herself to prepare her children for the tough life ahead. Priya’s children – Aashrita, 8, and Ishaan, 5, have MPS 3A, a rare genetic condition that affects the brain and the spinal cord. Till a few years back, understanding their particular needs and providing them with rehabilitative care was proving to be a real tough task, but today, she is happy that she is not bearing this responsibility all by herself. In fact, at the rehabilitation centres run by the Tamahar Trust, brainchild of occupational therapist Vaishali Pai, over a 100 children with conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, chromosomal disorders, intellectual impairment and epileptic disorders, among other syndromes and rare diseases, and their families are receiving treatment and counselling to help them cope. With the help of physical therapy, neuro linguistic programmimg, kineseiotaping and manual muscle work, along with alternate methods like yoga, art and music, children like Aashrita, Ishaan, Nitish, who has cerebral palsy, Sugi, who has Rett Syndrome, and many others are equipping themselves to find their own place in the world.

“Completely passive kids are rare. A child who seems unresponsive in class may suddenly start tapping at a taal (classical music note) on his/her lap at home.”

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 WFS Ref: INDOA15R 1250 words

Here's What Can Save Girls From Being Child Brides
Swapna Majumdar

When Lata turned 15, her family, living in a village in rural Andhra Pradesh, pulled her out of school and sold their cattle to get her married. Landless labourers, they no longer own any asset. Just 100 kilometres away, in Hyderabad, Ameena's privileged parents did not have to incur any debts to solemnise their daughter's marriage when she turned 16. But in both cases, the girls were underage and neither had a say in her marriage. Whereas early marriage is not an unusual practice in this country, considering it's rooted in patriarchy and gender discrimination, a recently-released 10-year study has attempted to look into the reasons it continues to thrive despite a comprehensive law in place and increasing levels of awareness around its negative implications. After all, only when the causes become clear can effective solutions be devised and implemented.

“If mothers are educated, equations change. Over 81 per cent of girls whose mothers had completed middle school remained single at 18. If the mothers had studied beyond secondary school, 91 per cent girls escaped child marriage.”

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 WFS Ref: INDP606 1290 words

Ranjana Wants To Make Rights Real For Rajnat Girls
Abha Sharma

Words like rights, choice, freedom hold little meaning for most Rajnat girls for whom life is all about upholding a cursed tradition – their community pushes daughters into commercial sex trade to make ends meet. Yet, not only has Ranjana Kaamdar managed to defy her own fate but she is now committed to ensuring that prostitution is no longer the only viable livelihood option available to her people. As the elected representative of Jaisingpura panchayat on the outskirts of Rajasthan's state capital, Jaipur, this young mother has taken on the responsibility of being a positive role model as well as motivating the Rajnat youth to access education and government welfare schemes to make a better future for themselves, one that is not dependent on the ‘work’ of the womenfolk.

“Due to the lack of social bargaining power and limited access to government schemes few young Rajnat men and women have been able to avail of their entitlements. But I am committed to seeing that the status quo changes.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP307R  words
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