The Cabinet today approved the maternity benefit programme. However, it has been made clear that the benefits will only be available for the first born. Under the Maternity Benefit Programme of Ministry of Women & Child Development, Rs 6,000 will be given to all eligible pregnant women and lactating mothers (PW&LM). This programme will be launched in almost all blocks and districts of the country. The programme has two primary objectives; one is to improve the health and nutrition of women and new borns and the other is to reduce the high maternal mortality rates.
The beneficiaries will receive the payment in installments, but certain conditions related to health and nutrition need to be met to become eligible for the benefits. The payments will be made through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode. The programme, however, excludes regular employees of Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking. It will also not apply to a person who may already be receiving such benefits under a specific law.
The programme is expected to be hugely beneficial for all pregnant women and lactating mothers, especially those who may be working in the unorganized sector. It may be recalled that the unorganized sector employs nearly 90% of the country’s female workforce. The programme will help offset wage losses suffered by pregnant/lactating women working in the unorganized sector.