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Changing Rooms: How Today’s Society Uses Public Spaces For Better Service

One of the most striking impressions a viewer takes away from the 1957 film, 12 Angry Men, is the image of a dozen men sitting around a table, smoking and debating their stance. For a movie from that period, the scene of men smoking away in a meeting room at the courthouse might not seem strange. 

But today, such a scene would raise eyebrows and invite much criticism. Times have changed, and so have social values. So it’s not strange that smoking rooms which used to be common in hotels and offices have almost disappeared, replaced by Daycares, feeding rooms and other facilities that strive to improve the basic quality of life. 


Attending to Parents With Young Children

Recently, in the Indian state of Kerala, a local theatre made waves when it installed a Cry Room as part of its facilities. In the State government-run Kairali Cinema Complex, an initiative to make film-going easier for parents with young children was started and has been the subject of much appreciation from citizens. 

Anyone who has watched a film in a movie theatre and had to sit through the noise of a wailing baby can understand how much a simple addition like a cry room can do wonders for a movie-goer’s experience. From an awkward situation where the parents try to hush the baby while their fellow viewers try to keep their patience, such a move ensures that everyone can enjoy a peaceful few hours of cinematic entertainment.

The room itself comes with cribs and diaper-changing facilities that help parents take care of their little ones, in addition to a glass window which shows the screen so that parents can watch the movie while soothing their babies. 

Though adding a cry room to a movie theatre might not seem revolutionary or necessary to many, the detail and thought that has gone into it is worth praise. And such a facility is only the most recent addition to a series of steps that Governments from across the world have taken to improve the social and official life of busy parents. 

Until a few generations back, the idea of a working woman, who is also a mother, would have been novel, if not outright strange in India. Societal judgement aside, women would not have been able to find the necessary material support they need to juggle their personal and official duties, nor would they have been allowed any leeway to make any mistakes under the watchful eyes of patriarchy and tradition. 

But today, it is normal for a working mother to take on responsibilities at work without compromising on childcare. There are Daycare centres and creches at offices, proper laws regarding maternity leaves, and awareness and compassion in the official space for the working mother. In fact, to the current generation who take such facilities for granted and as their right, anything less might seem strange instead. 

These facilities and changes didn’t exist from the beginning. They were a part of a chain of changes which have been implemented to encourage women to seek employment and financial independence. 


The Maternity Benefit Act

The Maternity Benefit Act was first introduced in India in 1961 and later amended in 2017, delineating further benefits for working mothers as well as those who are expecting. Under the Act, women are protected from being dismissed from their job during the period of their maternity leave. 

Moreover, women can take up to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, of which they can take eight weeks of leave before the child is born. Even women who have returned to normal work can benefit from the Act, which stipulates that any company that has fifty female employees must provide a creche facility so that working mothers can carry out their duties without worries. 

The Act also provides guidelines and benefits to women who are adopting, or are commissioning mothers opting for surrogacy, and shows how important the welfare of a working parent is in today’s society. Working mothers make up a significant part of the population, hence specialised laws that encourage them to return to work and provide for the financial well-being of the family are a necessity.

Though the guidelines outlined in the Maternity Benefit Act are the basic services that companies are supposed to provide for female employees according to the law, many companies go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities that show great care and concern for working mothers. 

In fact, for companies in the private sector like IT companies, well-equipped creche facilities and feeding rooms are a matter of pride as well as tools to gain shining employee reviews, even going so far as to become their selling point. For the private sector, which is desperate to count a diverse demographic among their employees, working mothers are a huge part of their narrative. 


Creches, day-cares, feeding and changing rooms are steps in a series of social changes that work towards the betterment of life, and it is important to note that such positive changes will only increase in quality in the coming days. The addition of a cry room in a movie theatre, though it may seem like a facility which is not urgently needed, points to the kind of attention that society and the people who live in it have given to building a comfortable life and entertainment. 


As mentioned before, these are small steps that build towards a bigger picture. While each change might have shades of social concern, service, pride, and even cleverly concealed business interests within them, the result that benefits many can only be seen as a good one.

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Tags: #cryrooms #MaternityBenefitAct #workingmothers


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