DNT’s enticing pledges to allow regulated foreign maids and babysitters

72.29 % of respondents to a CBS study say they cannot go for more than two children because they cannot find babysitters

One of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) pledges is to adopt a policy to employ foreign workers to ease the workload of women who are mothers. The party stated that the policy will be implemented in consultation with all stakeholders and stringent regulations will be put in place to protect the interests of both the employers and workers, and will be monitored at regular intervals. To avoid legal complications, DNT plans to mandate both workers and employers to sign an undertaking while entering the deal.

The pledge is going down well with women who are working mothers. Nima Dolma, 29, is a mother of one, and she said she welcomes such a promise by DNT. “There would be more trust and efficiency from both parties if there’s a legal undertaking in place. It is very difficult to get babysitters these days and since my husband and I are both working, it really becomes very stressful. Most of the times, I cannot concentrate on my office work because I don’t have dependable domestic helper to look after my baby. Having well verified and reliable domestic helpers will definitely prove a blessing to many of the working parents.”

Tshering Yangzom, 32, a mother of two kids living in Samdrup Jongkhar is also in favor of the pledge to allow foreign workers. “Even if I live right next to the border, it is tricky to get babysitters because our immigration laws are very strict. However, I have heard of cases where some foreign maids were smuggled in the country. Sometimes acquiring one foreign maid even through such practice seems tempting when the situations get desperate. Raising kids as a working parent is a very challenging, and at one point of time, I even considered quitting my job to look after them. Currently, I have no choice than to burden my aging parents with the responsibility to babysit my kids. I will not be planning anymore children for the very same reason.”

DNT said that there is no blueprint on the specifics of the pledge at the moment, and it will be developing further plans if DNT gets the opportunity to form the government. “It’s too early to get into specifications right now, on how to go about with the adoption of the policy to employ foreign domestic workers. However, we plan to create better and gainful employment opportunities for our youths in the country and recruit foreign nationals for domestic helpers. We will have stringent rules and regulations in place on the policy, and both the parties involved would be scrutinized to avoid any issues in the future,” said a DNT official.

The party credits women to be at the helm, taking charge of most of the family responsibilities and nurturing the future generation of the country- the children.

DNT further rationalized the need to offer adequate support and enabling facilities to women and children after it has been found that women end up sacrificing their career once they enter motherhood due to the added responsibility of childcare. This, the party said, compromised women’s career progression and productivity owing to the numerous roles women have to play.

Studies found that a lack of incentives and facilities has deterred Bhutanese parents from having more children. Recent National Population and Housing Census show that total childbirth reduced by almost 1,300 in the last 13 years. The survey also showed that women, especially in urban areas, delay childbirth for this reason. “If the issue is not addressed on time, it would weigh on the Bhutanese population, which could have implication on the nation’s security and sovereignty,” stated the report.

In another separate research published by the Centre for Bhutan Studies, specifically for the purpose to assess the impact of the availability of baby sitter on fertility measured as number of children in the family, it revealed that with rapid modernization taking place in urban places, such as Thimphu, combined with rising cost of living, it has become costly and difficult for families to have higher number of children.

The problem, as per the report, has been compounded with those employees from neighboring countries, mostly India, working as baby sitters being evicted from the country which probably led to decline in the fertility particularly in urban areas. Overall, 72.29 percent of the respondents strongly agreed to the statements that they cannot go for more than two children because they cannot find babysitters.

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