In the Vedic era, during this period women held a glorious position and enjoyed a wonderful position of personal freedom and equal rights with men. Women had an equal right to education, marriage and to hold any office of administration in the public domain. But another dark aspect is that the birth of a girl child was not welcomed with open arms in many societies. Twenty women composed Rig Vedic Hymns. But with a passage of time, especially in the medieval period, women lost her right and freedom in society.
“Where women are honored, divinity blossoms there, and where every women are dishonored, all action no matter how noble it may be, remains fruitful.“Manu Smriti
Today in the twenty-first century, we have been permitted a huge amount of freedom. Most by far around the world have the freedom to live any way they see fit. Geopolitical impediments are getting more amiable constantly, and the progression of development suggests we are more related than any time in recent memory. We are, all in all, an essentially more enduring society than we were even several decades back. Pre-marriage sex isn’t generally prohibited any more, and homosexuality is neither a disorder nor a debasement.
With respect to the present scenario, the Constitution is the fundamental socio-legal document in a democratic society. It is a legal sanctity which sets the framework and the principle functions of the organs of the government of the State. Constitution of India is the guiding polestar for the destiny of the world’s largest ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.’ The history of conquering women in India is very vast. Indian women had suffered and also are suffering from discrimination in silence. The framer’s Constitution was very well concerned about the discrimination and unequal treatment meted out to the fairer sex, from the time immemorial. So they included certain general as well as special provisions for the upliftment of the status of women.[i]
Meaning of Gender Equality
Gender equality, in any case, called sexual fairness or equalization of the genders, is the state of equivalent simple entry to resources and openings paying little heed to sex, including financial interest and fundamental administration; and the condition of esteeming different practices, desires and needs correspondingly, offering little respect to gender. While the world has achieved progress towards sexual orientation value and women’s strengthen under the Millennium Development Goals (tallying equivalent access to essential instruction among young ladies and young men), women continue suffering separation and savagery in all parts of the world. Sex equity isn’t only a key human right, anyway a significant foundation for a quiet, prosperous, and sensible world.
Giving women and young ladies equivalent access to instruction, medicinal services, traditional work, and depiction in political and financial basic leadership procedures will fuel manageable economies and advantage social orders and mankind on the loose. Completing new authentic frameworks with respect to female balance in the workplace and the annihilation of terrible practices centred at women is huge to the conclusion the sex-based isolation predominant in various countries around the world. In various societies on the planet, particularly the overwhelmingly male-driven ones, there is normally an unmistakable differentiation between the genders far as calling. Generally in these social orders, women are pushed toward better expression while men are required to choose the more ‘masculine’ reasons for living, for instance, designing and medicine. It has been seen, overall, where men who work as attendants are victimized as not being adequately masculine.
This kind of social weight drives various to pick reasons for living that are less their calling, which accordingly, implies abuse of advantages, as people are constrained to work in occupations they don’t surpass desires. Sex consistency would discard this issue by ensuring that one picks their calling without being presented to social prejudice. Exactly when business practices sexual orientation segregation, it can’t be valuable for anyone, and specifically for the association. Propelling a labourer over a progressive fit one dependent on sex has complex repercussions: the segregated representative is hopeless, which prompts decreased productivity, which consequently, impacts the associations’ general execution. On the other hand, having a less capable individual in a progressively competent position prompts authoritative pandemonium. Finally, the business benefits the least. Plus, if a business segregates between the genders, perhaps they would use more people of their favoured sexual orientation, or, would use the other sex at far lower pay[ii]
The situation of Gender Equality in comparison with other countries
In case we investigate a country like Afghanistan, we find women in a despairing condition. That is an immediate consequence of the divergence that exists in their enduring society. While the condition isn’t as awful in various social orders, there is up ’til now this kind of subtle bases of isolation present in various others. In many pieces of India, for instance, women known to have been possibly connected with any kind of sexual circumstance consensual or something different feel that its extraordinary to get hitched. This is an aftereffect of the conviction that the woman with sexual experience is ‘contaminated’. On the other hand, a man is ordinary, and on occasion delighted, to take part in sexual experiences as a solitary wolf. Moreover, nearby abuse on women is extremely across the board considering the conviction that women are the more delicate gender and can hereafter be blamed for about anything. Sexual direction consistency would help discard such issues and assurance a prevalent life for the mishandled sex.
In numerous social orders over the world, men are seen as the essential guardians, while women are commonly the homemakers. In reality, even today, this stereotyping of social employments is significantly present. A man who should be a homemaker is obligated to mock, while women are depended upon to give more need to the home than their profession, bombing which she is considered ‘unfeminine’ and ‘unmarriageable’. Even today, old maids are more looked down on the single men, with the understood conviction that there is something not directly with a woman for not being hitched. Such stereotyping prompts complex retributions made by the two genders all of a sudden. What’s more, this is intellectually hurting, as the man who gains not as much as his better half feels below average, and the woman who needs to contribute more vitality at work feels insufficient and unreliable.
Articles in our Constitution related to Gender Equality:-
Article 21 guarantees the right to life, the interpretation which has been broadened to include the right to live with dignity.[iii] Article 23 guarantees the right against exploitation and also prohibits traffic in human beings. [iv]
Article 39(a); “to ensure that the legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunity” contained in Article 39-A; “to secure just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief” contained in Article 42; “equal pay for equal work for both men and women” contained in Article 39(d) and reinforced by the Equal Remuneration Act, 1975; “to ensure that the “health and strength of workers, men and women are not abused” contained in Article 39(e); “to secure for its citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India” contained in Article 44 and “to regard the improvement of nutrition, the standard of living and public health” contained in Article 47 of our Constitution as its primary duties among others.[v]
Article 51-A(e) provides that, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Thus, it clearly indicates that it is the fundamental duty of every Indian to respect women. [vi]
Indian Judiciary in providing Gender Equality
The Indian Judicial System has independently and viably intervened on the issue of women liberation.
For example, in C.B. Muthamma v. Union of India[vii],
The validity of the Indian Foreign Service (Conduct a discipline) Rules of 1961 was challenged which given that a female employee to obtain the written authorization of the Government recorded as a hard copy before her marriage is solemnized and whenever after a marriage a women member of the service might be required to resign from service. The Supreme Court held that such provision is discriminatory against women and thus unlawful. The Supreme Court clarified that we don’t intend to universalize or dogmatize that men and women are equivalent in all occupation and all circumstances and don’t avoid the need to pragmatize where the necessities of specific employment, the sensitivities of sex or the quirks of societal sectors or the impediment of either sex may constrain selectivity. Be that as it may, spare where the separation is illustrated, the rule of equality must govern.
In Air India V Nargesh Mirza[viii], the Supreme Court struck down the provision of rules which determined termination of service, of an air hostess on her first pregnancy as it is arbitrary and despicable to the thoughts of a socialized society.
In Pratibha Rani v. Suraj Kumar[ix] the Supreme Court held that the stridhan property of a married woman must be set in her care, and she enjoys total authority over it. The irrelevant assurance she is living with her husband and using the dowry thing together doesn’t have any distinction and impact her right of absolute ownership over them.
Another landmark judgment was given by the Apex Court on a case of Gita Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India[x], for this circumstance, the Court deciphered section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 and held that the mother could act as natural guardianship of the minor during the father’s lifetime if the father was not answerable for the undertaking of the minor.
In Vishaka and others v State of Rajasthan[xi], the Supreme Court held that sexual harassment of working women at her place of employment means encroachment of right of gender equality and right to life and freedom which is a clear violation of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Court also saw that the importance and content of the principal rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India are of satisfactory sufficiency to consolidate the realities of gender equality including prevention of sexual harassment and abuse. Further Supreme Court for this case said that, as there is no law identifying with sexual harassment in India, as such the provision of International Conventions and norms are to be taken into consideration, and diagrammed certain guidelines to be seen at all workplaces or other organization until the legislation enacted for the purpose.
In Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra[xii], again Supreme Court emphasized Vishaka ruling and said that attempts of sexual harassment of female results in infringing upon fundamental rights to gender equity enshrined under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The Court additionally expressed that International instrument, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Declaration casts an obligation on the state to take proper measures to forestall gender equalities and ensure the respect and pride of women.
Aside from these cases, there are numerous different cases in which the Apex Court had given the decisions, assisting with giving a dignified status to the women, for instance, Madhu Kishwar v. State of Bihar[xiii], Gaurav Jain v. Union of India[xiv], Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum v. Union of India[xv], Bodhisathwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty[xvi].
Despite having a large number of enactment dealing with women and decisions of the Supreme Court protecting women the oppressed and poor states of women have not been improved and she despite everything faces a wide range of monstrosities and legislature and judiciary somewhat neglects to give respect to women in the public eye.
Changes needed in gender equality
After independence, the founder father of the country wanted to change the general public and was keen to set up an egalitarian society. To accomplish this end they utilized law as an instrument to check the gender discrimination, several laws, were sanctioned to meet this end however because of solid male patriarchal attitude and ominous social condition they neglected to achieve their objective. The social engineering through the law was not completely accomplished, while a few rights cherished under the enactments were appreciated and acknowledged by the general public the greater part of them stayed uniquely in papers because of the absence of public support. many evils are still practised on ladies, for example, bigamy, child marriages are still in practice, dowry demands are still on the rise, and women are still harassed for dowry.
Malnutrition and illiteracy are developing at a disturbing rate, rape and molestation have become an everyday phenomenon, and additionally, still, we consider women to be produced as one of the melodies of the film portrays her as “Tu cheez Badi hai mast mast”.
It is said that the law without a public opinion is nothing but only a heap of papers. The gap between the men and women can’t be crossed over by simply enacting laws with public support and opinion as social engineering laws are not quite the same as penal laws which are just related to injuries and punishment and are deterrent in nature but social engineering laws enacted to elevate the standards of the general public and are progressive in nature and consequently, it ought to be upheld by the desire of the individuals for whom it is sanctioned.
It is additionally evident that hundreds of years old practice cannot be eliminated within a couple of days it requires some more time. Also, when laws are enacted to acquire radical change society and are not sponsored by the desire of the individuals or laws are ahead of public opinion then it needs to face great resistance and restriction from the conservative thinking of the society and they resemble as dead law, which has no impact on society.
In India, the most of the laws were not effective as they were ahead of public opinion and ability of the individuals to change the society and give the women the status of equality in the public eye also needed, to give ladies their respective position in the society solid public opinion ought to be made through education, seminars and by taking the assistance of different instruments of the society, for example, media and so on, with the goal that the individuals of the society ought to get educated about and change their centuries of years old reasoning and willingly execute the laws authorized for the liberation for women.
To improve the status of the women in the society the need of great importance is that laws should be enacted however they ought to be supported by strong public opinion in light of the fact that insofar as traditionalist social reasoning remain deep-rooted in the society laws won’t have the option to accomplish their goals. It must be asserted that social reforms are in social reasoning, behaviour and law would be effective only if they are sponsored by a major section of the society[xvii]
Separate laws made for women
Laws made especially to protect, safeguard and to provide equality to female gender-
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006
- Special Marriage Act, 1954
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- Indian Divorce Act, 1969
- Maternity Benefit Act, 1861
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act, 1986
- National Commission for Women Act, 1990
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
There can be no sustainable development without gender equality. Half of the world’s population and potential is represented by women and girls. In some situations, gender specific is mandatory. An equal society begins with women retrieving their strong voice, and then gender wouldn’t be as much of a relation of power. Women have equal right in the world to strive for their needs and justice. The Indian Constitution thus provides a strong legal basis to enforce gender justice and permits guidance from international law to that end. The Constitution has distributed the roles of each branch of government, and the judiciary respecting its limits and boundaries by maintaining the legitimacy and legality.
The successful step towards gender equality can be seen through the contribution and mobilization of women’s rights advocates. All genders (men, women, transgender) are equal before the eyes of the law. Inevitably, it is our duty to respect every gender as they also procure equal powers and rights.
Tragically, right now, 1 of every 5 women and young ladies between the ages of 15-49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual savagery by a close accomplice within the year and 49 countries right currently have no laws protecting women from abusive conduct at home. Progress is happening seeing hurtful practices, for instance, kid marriage and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), which has declined by 30% in the earlier decade; however there is still a ton of work to be done to totally take out such practices[xviii].
“Gender justice is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”Kofi Annan
[i] Gender Justice Women and Law in India, Monica Chawla.
[iii] Constitution of India, M.P.Singh.
[vii] 1979 AIR 1868.
[viii] 1981 AIR 1829.
[ix] 1985 AIR 628.
[x] AIR 1999 SC 1149.
[xi] AIR 1997 SC 3011.
[xii] 1997 IVAD Delhi 646, 68 (1997) DLT 303.
[xiii] AIR 1996 5 SCC 125.
[xiv] (1997) 8 SCC 114, AIR 1997 SC 3021.
[xv] (1995) 1 SCC 14.
[xvi] 1996 AIR 922.
- What is Gender Equality? Why is it important?
- What are articles related to Gender Equality in our Constitution of India?
- What improvements can be seen through various landmark judgments?
- Which are the laws made especially for women?