PRISHEELA MOTTEE
President and Founder of Raise Brave Girls Association

‘It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideas.’[Emma Watson]. The Gender Equality Bill is a much-awaited decision by feminists, policy makers and most importantly gender equality activists.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not made any gift to the feminist cause. While some are putting forward the argument that we have been dragged back in time for a whole generation, others are already stepping forward at double speed to reduce the inequality gap. Time is not for a tug of war but rather to move ahead together by not leaving any gender behind.
Armed with strategic focal points, Raise Brave Girls association has come forward with three major proposals découlant des actions positives according to EU gender equality law to promote equal opportunity for men and women in particular by removing existing inequalities which affect women opportunities. The gist of the proposals is to maintain work-life balance legislation in three areas: menstrual leaves, parental leaves and emergency shelters.

Menstrual Leaves

‘Our vision is to create a world where menstruation holds no one back…’ [Manju – Founder of Operation Period].
Proposal has been made to implement paid menstruation leaves for women and students suffering from severe menstruation cramps of period disorders upon production of a medical certificate. The menstruation leaves shall not be counted against sick leaves or absences.
Such a measure will enhance productivity and motivation because women are not going to be penalised for taking off for health issues related to menstruation. Instating paid menstrual leaves is not a special treatment because it meets the basic need of women by recognizing and valuing human beings.
Countries like Indonesia have already implemented two days per month, in Taiwan three days per months of menstrual leaves are not counted against sick leaves and in Zambia women are entitled to one day off per month.

Parental Leaves

‘We will not achieve gender equality in workplace until we fix our parental leave.’ [David Lammy]. With the essence of gender equality in mind, it is our duty to walk the talk and maintain a work life balance. While we acknowledge that positive measures give protection to women particularly as regard to pregnancy and maternity leaves, in a new normal we have to think further towards parental leaves which are a gender-neutral formula through which gender equality will achieve meaningful change to remove barriers which specifically undermine the role of men.
A Proposal has been made to merge maternity and paternity leaves in one and same parental leaves of 18 weeks leaves which shall be taken by the parents at their discretion for the best interest of the child.

Emergency Shelters

In light of UN SDG 11 to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums. A Proposal has been made to make provision for emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence and squatters for all gender based on Amos Goldreich Architecture in Israel. The aim of the emergency shelter is to create a sense of home and security for inhabitants without it feeling like a prison.
Traditionally, for safety reasons residents used to spend most of their days in a shelter. The new challenge with the Covid-19 is to offer a place to accommodate all families in a peaceful and decent manner for an extended period of time in a spacious space.
We should abolish traditional architecture with stairs, blind areas and dormitories and put emphasis on calmness, freedom and security. Goldreich architecture proposes a two-façade building, the interior part for security and the exterior façade give onto a central garden which is therapeutic and acts as the heart of the shelter. There should be a sense of appurtenance.
Upon positive recommendation of a resident dossier, we additionally propose a priority list to allocate the resident an NHDC house.
The responsibility of a country and government is to provide a decent shelter for everyone.
In any patriarchal society there are structural barriers which hamper attainment of gender equality. The proposals are with a view to ensure full equality in practice between men and women in working life, the principle of equal treatment shall prevent any state from maintaining and adopting measure providing specific advantages in order to make it easier for the underrepresented gender to pursue their vocation in life.
Let us move together towards a gender-equal Mauritius.