Maternity should not be a barrier in women's careers and providing access to quality childcare at the workplace would ensure that motherhood does not become an obstacle to women's empowerment, said Supreme Court Judge Justice BV Nagarathna on Friday.

Justice Nagarathna, who was speaking as the guest of honour at the inauguration of a creche facility at the Delhi High Court, said that no country, community, or economy can achieve its potential without full and equal participation of women and reliable, affordable and good quality childcare is essential to encourage more mothers to join and participate in the labour force.

I have firmly believed that maternity should not be a barrier for the careers of women to plateau or dip. Motherhood must not result in a situation where women are passed over for promotions and hiring. It is in that context that I say that providing access to quality childcare at the workplace would play a significant role in ensuring that motherhood does not become an insurmountable barrier to women's empowerment, Justice Nagarathna stated.

The Supreme Court judge also noted the disappointing trend of women leaving the workforce, including the legal profession, in spite of an increase in their entry and said that one of the reasons behind it was the lack of an alternate caregiver when they become parents.

Supreme Court Judge Justice Indira Banerjee, who attended the event as the chief guest, lauded the High Court and said that opening a cr che facility was a big leap toward equality and equal opportunity for women.

She said that while parenting is a joint responsibility , there is a deep-rooted mindset that pervades down through all levels of society, including the judges, that child-rearing is the responsibility of the mother.

Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Justice Vipin Sanghi said that a creche liberates every woman and in today's scenario, it is not just for mothers but fathers as well.

He said that the High Court creche facility can be used by the litigants as well apart from the lawyers and employees and it would empower parents, especially mothers.

Justice Sanghi noted that the work participation rate for women in India was low and 23 per cent in the high court and one of the reasons behind it was the lack of safe childcare.

With PTI inputs