In a bid to empower women employees more companies in India are now offering a medical cover to employees for egg-freezing. Egg-freezing, or egg-harvesting, is a rather expensive treatment that involves preservation of a woman’s eggs to be used later for childbearing. Harvesting of eggs can cost anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for retrieval, in addition to annual charges of storage.
In 2017, only 2 per cent of the Working Mother & Avtar ‘Best Companies for Women’ offered medical cover for egg-freezing. The percentage rose to 5 per cent in 2018 and, in 2020, there were 11 per cent companies (roughly 35 in number) offering the benefit. While 53 per cent of the Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women have some form of support to employees and their partners for infertility treatment.
In the conflict between pursuing career goals versus responding to the societal and familial pressure of childbearing, it takes a lot of effort on the part of the woman to even suggest the idea of egg-freezing. Avtar founder Saundarya Rajesh said, “Egg-freezing is the placing of the power of choice in the hands of women professionals, to help them beat the biological clock. This provides women the freedom to choose their motherhood window, but the idea is yet to gain traction in India, where daughters are given the mantra of ‘earlier the better’”.
Breaking stereotypes, Lakshmi C, MD and lead (HR) at Accenture in India said such policies are gender-neutral at Accenture. “According to studies, one out of six couples in urban India face challenges with fertility and seek medical interventions, which can be expensive and complex. Our enhanced medical cover, which includes fertility and surrogacy treatments, is aimed at supporting our people in their journey towards parenthood and is available to all our people and their partners,” she said to TOI.
WeWork India, which caters to a predominantly millennial workforce with an average age of 31 years, has 47 per cent women employees. Priti Shetty, head of people at WeWork India, said, “In addition to providing our women employees with an environment that empowers them with skills, growth needs recognition, etc, we also introduced infertility cover to our existing group medical policy lately. This includes coverage up to Rs 1 lakh on IPD/OPD basis per family, including egg-harvesting and egg-freezing treatments. The medical coverage of ‘egg-freezing’ treatment empowers our women employees to have reproductive autonomy, which is every woman’s right as they channel through their personal and professional life and can feel liberated to make a decision as and when they deem fit.”