Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Sharing some of Nandini’s comments in response to The Bride’s post – Why I wanted payment for labour and the associated work. Find the original comment and discussion here.

What do you think?


I really do think there is an urgent need for us to recognize that society benefits immensely from childbearing, child-rearing, and care-giving work that currently goes unpaid. But okay, let’s not pay them because that would open a huge can of worms. What we need to do instead is stop penalizing those who do this unpaid work.

–> Make it explicitly illegal to discriminate against mothers in hiring and wages.

–> Tax people and businesses in order to have government-funded mandatory paid maternity AND paternity leave for the entire first year of a child’s life (6 months each). This kills many birds with one stone: women aren’t forced to return to work because they can’t afford to care for their child/themselves, men are allowed the chance to be real fathers, the burden of unpaid childcare is more likely to be shared between both parents instead of just the mom, children are likely to be breastfed longer than they currently are, children benefit from parental care in their first year of life, employers have no reason to discriminate against hiring women because both men and women are going to take time off when they have kids.

–> Tax businesses and people in order to have government-funded free quality childcare for all children. This also kills many birds with one stone: women are no longer forced to quit their jobs because childcare is more expensive than their income, elders aren’t burdened with unpaid care of grandchildren as a JOB instead of a pleasure that they choose when they like, children are given quality and standardised care in early childhood which is shown to make an enormous difference in levels of achievement in poorer children especially.

–> Force all employers to provide nursing/pumping rooms and breaks without penalizing women for it. If people can have smoking breaks and coffee breaks, by god lactating women should be allowed to pump milk!

All this is obviously going to take higher taxes, and I’m all for that. We have a responsibility towards people who create the next generation of people!

I think, rather than making husbands pay wives to have children, SOCIETY should pay women to have children via taxation.


Allow me to use a comparison I’ve used in a comment:

Compare childbirth to being a soldier. We have no issues with paying taxes to pay soldiers, giving soldiers lots of benefits and real respect, right? Why not do the same for moms??

After all, soldiers and moms benefit society in almost exactly comparable ways. Procreation is as basic and essential a function of the species as protection. Both carry similar risks of death (women have always died in childbirth in staggering numbers just like soldiers die in war, and both rates of death are drastically reduced with better technology). Both are difficult, real WORK. And if overpopulation is an issue, too many wars is also just as big a problem…

Funny, isn’t it, how differently society treats moms and soldiers? All because one set is doing traditional “men’s work” and the other is doing “women’s work”.


I think this system of patriarchal-communism (or, best-case-scenario, anarchism) within families but capitalism everywhere else is what causes women’s oppression. Pick one economic system or the other, and apply it everywhere!

The way we have it now, businesses and people in power profit immensely from the unpaid labor that allows them to survive but which they never have to pay for. It’s this huge subsidy they get that we never acknowledge. They never have to pay fair wages to the people who created their most important asset – productive workers – from scratch! Businesses also don’t have to pay fair wages to the people who care for the workers they already “used up”… especially true when the whole concept of pensions, however meager, is disappearing. It’s no accident that women are the ones who do all this unpaid work. It’s the last socially acceptable form of slave labor.

But if husbands were to pay wives their half of the fair wages for the service of birthing children, the cost would be indirectly borne by employers who’d have to pay these men more. It makes this form of labor visible in the capitalist economy, as it deserves to be. The same could be done for breastfeeding, and for caregivers within families. Women (or men) who stayed home to care for children or old people would no longer be seen as ‘not working’ because they would be earning a wage and paying taxes and be part of the economy. This work would no longer be a gap in their resumes, but part of the resume itself.

Or else we could go completely the other way, and make the economic system we use within families apply everywhere else. Everybody does their work and everybody shares in the fruits of production 100% equally. Surgeons and CEOs and hedge-fund managers get the same standard of living as farm laborers and clerks and full-time parents and “non-productive” folks like those with serious disabilities. Pipe dreams, I know, but that would really be my kind of world.

So that’s one part of it. The head-in-the-clouds part that’s never going to happen. [Which is why point one in needed.]

Related Posts:

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

76 thoughts on “Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

  1. From discussion 1
    1. “Make it explicitly illegal to discriminate against mothers in hiring and wages”
    I totally agree.

    2. “Tax people and businesses in order to have government-funded mandatory paid maternity AND paternity leave for the entire first year of a child’s life (6 months each). ”
    “Tax businesses and people in order to have government-funded free quality childcare for all children”
    I disagree.
    Choosing to have a kid is a very personal thing. People who make that choice do it for themselves ; no parent does it for the essentiality of procreation to continue our species. Is there anyone who has had kids with the purpose of creating a great individual for tomorrow? Nobody is that saintly. They do it for THEMSELVES. And they try to raise their kid in the best way they can for the benefit of THE KID AND THEMSELVES NOT FOR THE SOCIETY. And yeah the kids grow up to be great at what they do and I (as a member of the society ) will indirectly benefit from it. But I will have my own ways of indirectly returning that favor to the rest of the society (including the parents of that kid)by being great at what I do. So why should I pay taxes for them to raise their childcare and paternity/maternity leave?
    (My husband and I intend to have kids because we feel they will be a great addition to our lives. We will take care of them with the best we can provide. And no thanks, I do not want money from some random person who has no connection whatsover to our decision to have kids. My company gives maternity leave as a part of employee benefits. My husband’s company doesn’t give paternity leave; I so wish they do but again only as a part of employee benefits. I will not be okay with the govt taxing random people for our paternity/maternity leave)

    3.”Force all employers to provide nursing/pumping rooms and breaks without penalizing women for it.”
    I totally agree.


    • > Is there anyone who has had kids with the purpose of creating a great individual for tomorrow? Nobody is that saintly. They do it for THEMSELVES.

      It’s kind of iirelevant, don’t you think? (1) Almost everyone only works at all because they get a paycheck for it, not for the saintly purpose of making something useful for others. We pay them because we benefit from their work, not because they did it for saintly purposes. And (2) Nobody has kids only for themselves. Few of us are liberated enough to be free from a lifetime of social conditioning that the purpose of woman is to birth a child, the purpose of family is to create children, the purpose of men is to provide for children. Having children is NOT a free choice like taking up painting as a hobby. There is a huge deal of social pressure on people to have children.


  2. Nope, sorry, I disagree.

    I’m all for the suggestions in 1, but not for the reasons given here. I’d want moms/expectant mothers to be given those benefits because they have a right to be treated as equals, and if we have to make special arrangements to ensure that, so be it. It should not be linked to any service they provide (or do not provide) to an abstract social entity.

    No 2 is fairly illogical to me. I don’t get how the two can even be compared. Soldiering, in this day and age, is a job. Unless one is a professional surrogate mother or something of that sort, giving birth is NOT a job, even if child-rearing and the associated housework is. And as far as the latter is concerned, I’d much rather that it be shared equitably within a family, than have it dumped on women, even if we paid them for it. If we have a system where they are paid for it, it should at least be gender neutral, eh?

    No 3 is…well, meandering into socio-political theory. I don’t quite agree with the author’s views, but I don’t want to get into that kind of discussion. I’ll agree to disagree.


    • > It should not be linked to any service they provide (or do not provide) to an abstract social entity.

      You’re right about that. I was trying to speak the language of capitalists here, and went wrong. It’s true that it ultimately works to dehumanize and commodify women to put it the way I did.

      > Unless one is a professional surrogate mother or something of that sort, giving birth is NOT a job

      Why do you think this? In all seriousness, being pregnant is what showed me how much work it is. There is as much effort involved in it as many other jobs we consider to be real jobs. I used to joke with my husband that this is like being a night watchman…. If you’re lucky enough to work in a posh and safe area (easy pregnancy), you just have to keep watch and stay alert and though it’s exhausting and the job has occasional short burts of crisis you can have another job at the same time. And if you’re unlucky enough to work in a high risk area (complicated pregnancy) it just about uses you up, leaving you in no position to work another job, and can kill you to boot


  3. I agree for 1 and 4 but disagree for 2 and 3. Even though some companies provide paternity leave right now, how many males in our society are using it to actually do the paternal duties or just be with the child to see it grow up? I guess most of them would just take off for a week or two of holiday. Not all, yes, but most.
    Why should I be forced to pay for someone else’ baby? Baby making is a personal choice and if I choose not to have one I’d also not be paying for one right? It’s completely illogical to pay for someone else’ maternity/paternity leave too. It should be a policy yes, but then people who are and would not have kids should not be forced to shell money for someone else’ pregnancy.


    • > Why should I be forced to pay for someone else’ baby?

      Because you benefit from it. Where do you think your lawyer, banker, doctor, gardener, etc come from? You might think you pay for their services, but what about paying the creator too? It’s the same as when you buy a book, you shouldn’t just pay the printer… you should also pay the author. Or at least, like I said, not penalize the author!


      • @Nandini, I don’t see the logic at all. Hence I don’t agree. When I can’t even be sure that the child won’t turn out to be a cheat or thief or something like that, why would I even consider them good citizens.


        • That’s terrible logic. Do you demand to be provided with grapes for free on the basis that *some* in a bunch you pay for might be sour?

          More pertinent here: are you against being taxed to provide subsidized education to all children on the basis that some children might use the education for nefarious purposes? Or do you recognize that the justice of and gains from providing basic education by far outweighs the minor losses from a few bad outcomes?


        • I definitely choose a bunch of grapes which look healthy overall with one or two rotten. Can also find out by tasting one of it (vendor himself offers one) to find out if they are sweet or sour. So there. How is this even related?
          And this discussion is opening a way to a new topic of what will happen if we provide everything for free/subsidized?
          Yes, quality of childcare can be provided free of cost, like in other countries, but for that to happen a whole set of new things need to take place and for that to happen the beareaucracy needs to give way. Wishful thinking indeed.
          But I’m still not paying for someone else’s maternity/paternity leave. It’s their decision and their money. Period.


  4. The example about mothers and soldiers.
    -People in the US who go into the Marines and Army for a couple of reasons: one because they feel the need to serve the country inspite of having great chances of finding a well-paying and comfortable job. The other reason is that they need the money and may not have a great chance of finding a job, also they are a lot of benefits associated with being a Veteran. In this group, there are a significant number of army men who are service-minded and there are significant number of army men who do it for the money and benefits. In my opinion, both reasons are perfectly okay. I will admire those armymen who do it for service and totally respect and honor them. I will treat the armymen who do it for the money and benefits just as I treat anyone else; it is a job to them just as mine is to me. They do it to feed themselves and their families just as I do for myself and my family. But I am okay with paying taxes for all armymen because the tax money I pay ALSO goes to those service-minded armymen who I admire.. And if my tax money has to also go to the armymen who do it for money and benefits, I guess I have to be okay with it because I somehow want to honor those service-minded armymen and I would rather do it this way than not do it at all. So I am okay with paying taxes for armymen.
    -But mothers? Is there any mother (or father for that matter) who has a kid for the society?? No couple thinks “The society will greatly benefit by having one great individual. So let’s have a kid and make it great so that it will be a value addition to the society”.

    Our society has many evils, most of them (if not all) which target women. But what I fail to understand is to understand is why subject ALL people ( which would include people who don’t want to impose any of these evils on women ) to such stringent rules? If there was some rule which says “All men should be LEGALLY REQUIRED to protect any woman around them just because there are some people in their gender who are responsible for the sexual atrocities committed against women”, would you agree to it?? Doesnt that seem atrocious ?
    Likewise, just because there are people who subject women to differenty evils, why should I be the one to pay the price for it?


    • I think having a child is somewhat like landscaping your lawn. You do it because you want to live an a more beautiful house, or maybe just increase your property value. You do it for yourself. The fact that the city becomes a bit more beautiful as a result of that is secondary. Your intention was never to beautify the city, your intention was to beautify your house for your personal satisfaction. Even if your actions had no effect on the city/society, you’d perform them just the same.

      Demanding payment for this ‘service’ to society seems very intellectually dishonest to me. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.


      • > Even if your actions had no effect on the city/society, you’d perform them just the same.

        I don’t think so, PT. If having children did not benefit society to the extent that it does, we would not be socially conditioned our entire lives that we ought to have kids.

        Having kids about as much of a choice as wearing clothes. On some basic level, it’s a requirement for survival, but to an enormous extent the actual clothes people wear are dictated by rigid social rules none of us can even imagine breaking.


  5. Rubbish, single mom dribble. I will never pay for someone else’s litter. Self entitled nonsense thinking the world owes her something because SHE decided to have a kid. Don’t want kids don’t have them!

    Take responsibilty for your life, don’t lay it on society.


    • > Self entitled nonsense thinking the world owes her something because SHE decided to have a kid.

      Actually, Glacier, having children is a choice that BOTH men and women make, but only women are penalized for it. Don’t you think that should be fixed?


  6. When I lived in London I had an Eritrean cleaner. She had 7 kids. She was sincere in her work and my guru when it came to kid issues (after 7 kids you’d have pretty much seen it all right?!)

    She worked as a cleaner, her husband taught Koran/religion stuff at a mosque but doubt if he earned anything. They lived in a council-provided house at 50 bucks a month and she told me it was large and three floors high. Her kids went to a state school and medical bills were all free (NHS). They got child benefits each week and also unemployment benefits because they had kids.

    BUT was this fair to folks like us who slogged away and paid taxes, a part of which goes to funding all of the above?

    I think not.


  7. Okay, this is going to be a long comment, so apologies in advance. 😀

    Point 1

    It is already illegal for any discrimination to happen in the workplace. I know you are referring to the lower salaries and fewer promotions given to expectant mothers or even those the company ‘thinks’ might become pregnant! The practice, while rampant, is not actually legal. We might have more luck with it if we first curb much more overtly illegal practices such as overtime not being compensated, etc. There are call centres where the employees do not even get sick leave. This is by far most inhuman when you have to take permission to go to the loo. Which is sometimes not even granted!

    I agree with the one who asks why she should pay for those who decide to have children. The need of the day in India is for people to not have children, imo. We can use this money to spread awareness and do other things. Instead, the workplaces should be made aware that their ROI is better if they allow maternal and paternal leave to the employees, as also the loyalty factor from the employees. No one wants to leave a company that pays well, provides interesting work and treats the employees like humans. The same offices can also provide childcare. Many countries in the west have designated play spaces for people with small children.

    AGREED! And nursing/pumping rooms is not only mandatory in offices, but all other places. We seem to think infants. are fed miraculously and invisibly.

    Considering the state of our country, society should be paying women NOT to have children.

    Change is only possible if society changes. I am honestly not willing to pay more tax so that a bunch of women could have more children because their in-laws want them to. Disagree.

    Point 2

    Totally and completely disagree. Being a mother is nowhere close to being a soldier (at least I hope the day never arrives!) I do not find it necessary to blindly respect our soldiers. They are doing a job they signed up for and get paid for it. Of course, like for anyone else in any other industry, I will be concerned about their rights, but for me, it is nothign special. Wars are created by politicians, and I do not want my tax money going on waging wars either.

    Point 3

    Capitalism is not the cause of women’s oppression. Capitalism is a system based on merit and competition. May the best man/woman win. If you think capitalism is causing women’s oppression, then you are tacitly implying that women are inferior than men. Patriarchy is responsible for women’s oppression, and we cannot solve this problem by blaming economic systems.

    It is unfair for men to pay half their salaries to the women. How about the women get a life and go out and work? If they hate giving birth so much, there are other choices. Don’t have a child, adopt, go for IVF.

    Old people must be encouraged to have nurses and save up for their old age, instead of spending all their money on flashy weddings to show off to the neighbours. Even as I type, I see fairy lights hanging all over my building, and it lasts for six days – all night. Imagine the electricity bill! People could just keep this money aside and spend it on their own care later instead of expecting women to do such unproductive work of taking care of them.

    I feel this is a wrong way of tackling the issue. I basically disagree with this post because all the suggestions given emphasise the weakness of women, and asks compensation for it. I say women are not weak, and if you take away the restrictions, women can do very well indeed, and compete on par with men. I am sorry, it is hard to fight, it is hard to resist, but that is the only way. If we adopt the methods that tacitly implies that women are inferior, the gender gap will never be bridged.


    • “all the suggestions given emphasise the weakness of women, and asks compensation for it.”
      Couldnt agree more! I disagree with the post for this reason, and was going to write a long comment, but then read Fem’s comment and this one line sums up why I do not agree with the points in the post.


      • I would not call the ability to give birth and the work of raising children “weakness” at all. My point was in fact the opposite: it’s real work that should not be penalized. The only reason why we penalize women for doing these amazing things is because of our patriarchal biases that the things women do aren’t really work!


    • “Capitalism is not the cause of women’s oppression. Capitalism is a system based on merit and competition.”

      I really wish that capitalism were a system based on merit and competition since I have slightly libertarian tendencies.

      However, capitalism as practised in most parts of the world is NOT a merit-based system. Which free-market guru (Milton Friedman, Frederick Hayek, Ludwig von Mises) would justify billion-dollar government bailouts to Fortune 500 companies?

      AIG recieved a $ 85 billion public-funded emergency loan from the Fed in 2008. Washington brought an 80% stake in it. Again, tax-payer funded.

      Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold mortgage backed securities worth USD 5 trillion.

      Pure capitalism would have allowed the financial system to devise its own corrections after the sub-prime crisis. Yes, it would have caused a lot of grief to a lot of people, but that’s free markets for you.

      What we have now is quasi-capitalism, where companies pursue bottomlines to the exclusion of all other considerations.

      When they mess up, they crawl to the government asking for bailouts while at all other times their CEOs can be heard talking of the “merits” of “small government” and the “evils” of state intervantion.

      Put your money where your mouth is Wall Street. The rant is not directed at you Fem. I just see red when I read the “capitalism is based on merit” argument. 🙂


      • Billion-dollar government bailouts to Fortune 500 companies is not capitalism. People will take advantage of what they can. If Governments are sitting around waiting to bail out companies in their own interests, then I would hardly blame companies for taking it. And this is what we get when we mix different systems. No one wins. And as I pointed out earlier, what is being practised and goes under the guise of capitalism, is corporatism. There is nothing to get angry about when I speak the truth about capitalism as a system. The way it is sometimes practised, yes, it makes me angry too.


        • True, in pure capitalism, money will simply flow towards it’s most valuable use; or to those who create the most value for it. However, since, no economy in the world practises completely unregulated capitalism, its efficacy will always remain an untested hypothesis. I’d comepletely forgotten about corporatism; haven’t read or heard that word since college. 🙂


    • Actually, in the US at least (and somebody can fill me in here regarding India) it is not illegal to discriminate against mothers in hiring and promotion and wages. It’s only illegal to discriminate based on gender, and it is illegal to explicitly fire someone for becoming pregnant.

      But over 60% of private employers can COMPLETELY LEGALLY and explicitly fire any woman who takes so much as a single unpaid day of leave to give birth, because FMLA, a law that guarantees people the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave of family or medical leave, only applies to companies with over 50 employees.


  8. I find this idea of saying the government will tax us all and will take care of us all as lacking any real data. In the Indian context it lacks even sense.

    The whole idea the Government can take care of our children in childcare centers makes for a hilarious reading as I am pretty sure that 9 out of 10 people reading this blog will probably not visit a government run municpal hospital for treatment.

    I am pretty sure 10 out of 10 will not send their kids to a municpal school run by the government.

    Comparing mothers and soliders is not fair. Soldiers might be respected in society – only in name and media tradition. Ask a retired jawan how much his life is taken care of by the Army and it might be illuminating.

    Finally the society the author is suggesting we create, is a society that does not give women any incentive to get educated, be financially independent.

    On the other hand such a society will only incentivise women to find a husband quickly and have plenty of kids.


  9. Agree with 1 and 4 but the rest — no way!!! Both me and hubby are independent and self employed. We employ quite a large no between us and yes I’m open to 3 months after nitty and 3months paternity as long its paid leave for 3,months and the rest unpaid and we currently have a subsidized crèche in 1 location but no way am I paying for other people o have kids..
    Can’t afford kids, can’t afford loss of pay to raise them, can’t afford child creche —- don’t have them. But agree 100% with 1 and 4…the rest is not doable in an open economy.

    To raise kids you need willingness, compromise , test and a partnership between mom and dad none of this can be bought or provided by the government


  10. Am I being arrogant because I don’t believe it’s my “civic duty” to be taxed so someone else can have and rear a child? I don’t want to be compelled to be responsible for the wants of others and then made to feel guilty for not performing my “civic duty”…

    I think a tax cut for parents would be a better idea…The extra money could be used for better child rearing…Also, in India, has the government ever used tax money efficiently? Is everybody getting a decent education?


  11. I completely disagree with the fact that child rearing and child bearing by women must be paid for by the citizens because they are producing skilled workers for the next generation. Couples give rise to children not because they want to benefit the nation or state but so that they can have a secure future, experience the joys of parenting or any other thing that greatly profits them and never in their wildest dreams do they think of benefitting the nation. And if women are to be considered precious because they bear children than men should be considered the same because they play a part in the process too and more often than not pay for the child’s education which leads to an educated individual. I think what this post is trying to portray is that women somehow are far more important for the future of the nation and they must be paid for being so which is rubbish. All Women bear children not because they want to serve the nation but because of their own needs which are not necessarily benevolent to the society and the same is true for men.


    • Sushobh, two questions,

      1. Do you think it is bad for some women to not want to be mothers, because they prefer to work and continue to socialize, party, dress up and go out with friends and continue to sleep and wake up whenever they like and holiday and generally live without responsibility of children? Or maybe because they worry about their figure and career etc?

      2. What do you think of DINKS or ‘Double Income No Kids’ – couples?


      • I don’t think that is what he is implying. He is merely saying that becoming mothers is not a decision taken by women for the purpose of benefitting the nation, but more for their own pleasure.


      • IHM, isn’t your first question very loaded? And I don’t see the connection with the original commenter.

        For the record, me and my husband have no kids by choice. I think me and my husband pondered over the question of kids much more serioulsy than those who have had them. (We love kids but never had a good reason to have any of our own.)
        We certainly appear to be DINKs who live it up, but I work part-time and take care of both sets of parents, support a sibling who suffers from ill-health. We want to be generous since we both earn well, but after paying for the college education of three cousins, and lending money for the marriage of another, we feel a bit penalised because so many of us Indians have kids without thinking.


      • 1) No I don’t think it is bad, to each their own. I don’t understand the obsession with having kids anyway, there are way too many people who have kids and then realize it is not what they thought it would be. I am almost sure all women worry about their figures.

        2) DINKS – same as the first question. Having kids is not the be all and end all. If they think they have better things to do then raising 2.5 kids why not ….


  12. I do believe that there should be good childcare facilities and mandatory paid parental leave. In many countries, making paternity leave mandatory has reaped benefits in terms of equal marriages.

    However, I don’t think childcare should be free. And I disagree strongly with being taxed for other people having children. Having children is not a right or a compulsion, so if you’re going to have one, I hope you have worked out the finances.

    In fact, as the childless couple in the family, we take on more financial and caring responsibilities than our siblings who have children. It was the same with an aunt of mine who never married. She ended up subsidising the rest of the grandchildren’s college expenses because their parents did not think about that before having them.

    I also think it is important to make the point as we are Indians. Many Indians just have kids by default, never stopping to think if they are mature enough or financially ready to have kids.


    • “I also think it is important to make the point as we are Indians. Many Indians just have kids by default, never stopping to think if they are mature enough or financially ready to have kids.”

      Yes and yes. The responsible thing to do in India is to be voluntarily child-free. If nothing else, you’d be doing the planet a huge favour.

      Indians have so many children despite there being no tax-breaks or universal healthcare.

      If anything, we ought to impose penalties on people with more than two kids.


  13. Some of the points are valid – though the argument somehow reminds me of demanding govt subsidies for sheep rearing or other animal husbandry industry!

    Let us consider the Indian society where there has been unbridled ‘birthing and rearing’. In what way has the said activities benefited our society? Yes, barring the fact that we have a ‘a large pool of young, English speaking, employable population’ – what is it that the society as a whole has achieved? Did we have visionary governments? Have we wiped out poverty? Have we industrialised agriculture? Hell – do we even have basic stuff – health care and decent schools for all? The answer is no – and the answer does not lie in compensating for child rearing.

    It is true that a LOT has to be done for mothers. Like advanced nations we need a massive overhaul of corporate policies to support new mothers – from an adequate paid maternity leave, to onsite crèches where mothers don’t have to worry about leaving the baby with someone else. World-class free healthcare should be available for all mothers, irrespective of economic strata. Imagine the women giving birth in govt run maternity hospitals that resemble cow sheds – and in contrast, the women paying lakhs for delivery in five-star facilities.

    What about child-care? And I don’t mean just the medical care – which is out of reach for many. I mean even something simple such as play grounds. Something simple such as libraries. Something simple such as toys. How many children have these? In Bangalore only kids living in high-end apartments have a ‘play area’. Kids of middle-class families living in independent houses, smaller apartments have to make do with indoor games/video games. All open spaces have gone for malls – there is no place for children to play after school. Anyway they are pushed into tuitions so that they can clear IIT-JEE 10 years laters.

    Having a child is not even a personal choice for many. Introducing compensations/incentives will make many such vulnerable women to be used as a baby factory while relatives swallow benefits.

    Until and unless there is a political, cultural and social will to create a better environment for children to grow up – having a child will never have any impact on society. And from what I see, having a chlld is just another tick mark against someone’s life – career – check, car-check, flat – check, child-check. That’s it.


  14. If women are so dissatisfied with the societal response to having kids and bringing up, why do they continue to have so many children? Why should anyone pay you for your personal wish to have a big family?

    I agree that there should be some sort of legal protection at work, so that women are not fired practically for getting pregnant, but it doesn’t mean that you should be paid for nothing continuously 5 years in a row just because you had 3 kids one after the other and used up your maternity leave to the fullest.

    There is a huge difference between working and mothering. The most important one – you need to work in order to survive, but you have kids because you want to, not because you are forced to.

    If you find the world around you so outrageously unfair to parenting process, reconsider having kids. Don’t complain that you can’t manage work and taking care of your offspring because of the society. The society doesn’t need to bare the residue of your personal choices any further than a reasonable and balanced care about the overall development of the nation.

    Why would a country like India need a special parenting protection policy? The population is out of control. The cities are overcrowded and overpoluted. The amount of non-recyclable trash produced by such masses is like a ticking bomb. In every aspect of public life you experience harsh competition and fight for resources, just because there is not enough for everyone. There are power supply problems. Places run out of gasoline, electricity is available in instalments. How do you imagine India to be, if people are encouraged to have kids? They already have too many. India needs a family planning policy not a family expanding policy.


    • > If women are so dissatisfied with the societal response to having kids and bringing up, why do they continue to have so many children?

      It’s an interesting question, EM, and I wish you weren’t asking it rhetorically. I thin the answer is that women are an oppressed class, and that social conditioning is a powerful force. Just as it took a raising of consciousness for black slaves to say “Hey, why do we continue to work for our masters for free?” , just as it is going to take a great deal of consciousness-raising for many lower-caste people to say “Why are we passively accepting lower caste status forced on us?”, just as it takes consciousness-raising for working classes to question why they allow the 1% to get rich from their labors, so it will take women’s consciousness being raised before we can question why we continue to have children and accept financial/career penalties for it despite not being recognized for our efforts. As it stands, the weight of social conditioning and tradition bears heavily down on all of us, men and women and everyone inbetween or outside, making it impossible for us to question status quo seriously.

      If you were to answer your own question seriously, what would your answer be? And do you think it is perfectly fair and just that men and women both make the decision to have children, but only women are penalized for it?

      > Don’t complain that you can’t manage work and taking care of your offspring because of the society.

      That’s quite unfair to say, don’t you think? You can’t possibly claim that society is NOT unfair to mothers. Men are able to choose parenthood without being penalized for it; why shouldn’t women demand the same?


    • > How do you imagine India to be, if people are encouraged to have kids? They already have too many. India needs a family planning policy not a family expanding policy.

      My policy is not about encouraging people to have kids. It’s about fairness and empowerment for women.

      It is simplistic to think that women will simply churn out babies if we were to provide free childcare and parental leave. In reality, it will mean greater financial empowerment and freedom for women, since women will no longer be chained to the home because of children, which has been shown rather conclusively REDUCE birth rates the world over.


      • Women in India are not chained to home because of children. They are chained to home because of rigid traditions from the era of dinosaurs, which they themselves strongly believe in and support.

        If women were so outraged by their limited status and possibilities, the concept of arranged marriage and related issues would have died ages back.

        Instead, the biggest problem of every mother is how to marry off her child best. It’s a very short distance thinking.

        In pro-family policies there is always a window for abuse of those laws. It is not true that such policies would not increase the number of kids born each year. If a state is granting benefits like financial support for every new born kid, or family tax reductions, it is with a thought of inviting more children to this world.


  15. If you look at the system in Sweden, many of these suggestions are in place. Each child’s parents have 480 days of parental leave (can be used till the child is 8years). Of which each parent is entitled to 240 days, but one parent can transfer upto 180 days to the other if needed, but s/he is not allowed to transfer 60 days. Child care and education is free, but child care is not available till the child is 1 year old. So the parents have to (between themselves) take care of the child for its first year. It is as common to see a man pushing a pram or taking the children to the play ground as a woman. The government pays the parents during this time. Sweden is one of the best places to bring up a child, but, also has one of the highest taxes in the world.


    • Sweden developed a level of welfare that India would never accept, simply because it benefits people across social classes. The poor are never left with nothing, and in many cases they are granted benefits exceding minimal survival. Plus, you can see a lot of transparency between tax collection and social spending.


      • Additionally, Sweden has a population of 9.4 million with a population density of 21 people per square kilometre.

        India’s population density is 324 per square kilometre, up from 77 in 1901. So yes, a Swedish-style welfare state is unachievable in India.


  16. IHM, this is cool, thanks for bringing this up for discussion! It’s very interesting to see the responses here, I’ve got many new ideas to think about now.


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  22. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, it is highly short sighted. You cannot force companies to be compassionate.

    I am in favor of nursing/pumping rooms, and should be given as an advisory rather than a legal necessity. If you make it compulsory, well all the big companies can afford it, but smaller companies who don’t have the money will simply stop hiring women..
    I totally agree with paternity leaves, regardless of how men use it.

    On the overall, I think Nandinis comment is valid: Do we really want India to have more kids?
    We have population density going as high as 1000 in some places and you know what even if we stop having kids, it will be a while before the population neutralizes. We have too many people to feed and house, and not enough space to grow food/ build houses. the strain on natural resources has gone beyond the level of comfort.

    The whole problem with providing benefits to mothers is that we penalize women who don’t want to be. “Why should I pay for someone else’s child?” is actually a good question. If you don’t have the money/ time to raise your child, don’t have one.
    There are many women who give up on motherhood because they want to serve the company and grow their careers. What’s the incentive for them? They not only have to bear their own burden, but the burden of the other women who wanna have kids.

    There is nothing great about the so glorified concept of family. If you wanna do it, do it on your own time and money.


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