In 2017, only 2% of the Working Mother & Avtar ‘Best Companies for Women’ offered medical cover for egg-freezing. The percentage rose to 5% in 2018 and, in 2020, there were 11% companies (roughly 35 in number) offering the benefit.
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.”
While 53% of the Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women have some form of support to employees and their partners for infertility treatment, 11% offer medical cover for egg-freezing. This indeed 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’.”
In the conflict between pursuing career goals versus responding to the societal and familial pressure of childbearing, Rajesh said it takes a lot of effort on the part of the woman to even suggest the idea of egg-freezing.
Breaking stereotypes, such policies are gender-neutral at Accenture. Lakshmi C, MD and lead (HR) at Accenture in India, said, “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.”
WeWork India, which caters to a predominantly millennial workforce with an average age of 31 years, has 47% 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.”
While one would assume women are delaying childbearing with egg-freezing benefits because of the pandemic, an industry expert said, on the contrary, most parents in India who use these benefits are keen on starting a family almost immediately. Harvesting of eggs can cost anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for retrieval, in addition to annual charges of storage.