Women across the country could be said to have scaled yet another obstacle to their relentless quest for equality of opportunity with the State Bank of India (SBI), bowing to public opinion, dumping a discriminatory norm that denied immediate posting and promotions to pregnant women.

The SBI has issued instructions (Letter No. CDO/IR/SPL/289 dated 16.09.2009) to its local head offices across the country to the effect that pregnancy should no longer be treated as a disability for immediate appointment or promotion.

The directive, applicable to its associate banks as well, has probably come as a result of a public outcry from women’s organisations in Kerala, a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister from Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and efforts by the State Banks Staff Union (SBSU).

Under the norm, in effect for over three decades, the SBI was insisting on women candidates and serving women undergoing medical examination at the time of recruitment/ promotion to determine whether they were pregnant and submitting a declaration giving details of their menstrual cycle so as to defer posting/promotion during pregnancy.

Women candidates were also required to declare their menstrual history and give an undertaking on any evidence of pregnancy and history of disease of the uterus, cervix, ovaries or breasts.

No personal details

The bank has now decided to do without such a declaration of personal details and to give posting to a woman up to the sixth month of pregnancy provided she furnishes a certificate from a specialist gynaecologist stating that her taking up bank employment at that stage is in no way likely to interfere with her pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus or cause miscarriage or otherwise adversely affect her health.