Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) have written to Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman, asking her to intervene to stop gender discrimination in the recruitment of women in the State Bank of India (SBI).
The SBI, in a new year's "gift", has revised its 2009 guidelines that used to prohibit the usage of pregnancy as a disability for immediate appointment or promotion.
The new SBI guidelines, dated December 31, 2021, prevent women with more than three months of pregnancy from joining service, despite being selected through due process and procedure. The guidelines state that a pregnant woman would be "considered temporarily unfit, and she may be allowed to join within four months after delivery of Child."
The CITU letter highlights that this would "affect the service of the women and benefits they receive perpetually for her service life" and amount to "gross gender discrimination of the most reprehensible kind and against the equality of opportunity ensured by the constitution of India."
AIDWA has highlighted SBI's history of humiliating female candidates who used to be asked details of their menstrual cycle to defer posting/promotion during pregnancy.
"Women candidates were also required to declare their menstrual history and give an undertaking on any evidence of pregnancy and history of disease of the uterus, cervix, ovaries or breasts. The bank decided in 2009 to do without such a declaration of personal details and to give posting to a woman up to the sixth month of pregnancy provided she furnishes a certificate from a specialist gynaecologist stating that her taking up bank employment at that stage is in no way likely to interfere with her pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus or cause miscarriage or otherwise adversely affect her health," the AIDWA letter says, adding that "the revised instruction is bringing back the humiliation to force."
"We wonder how government said to be committed to women's empowerment and equality allows such discriminatory as well as vindictive practices through one of the leading Public Sector Banks in the country. As a result of this, the woman, selected for appointment/promotion through rigorous examination/viva process on par with her male counterpart, is being debarred from joining her appointed post only because of her pregnancy, despite it being a natural process for every woman in the society and no fault on her part; consequently, she loses her due seniority and earnings which would have a perpetual negative impact in her entire service life. If this is not gross and vindictive discrimination, then what else?" the CITU letter reads.