Gender justice and women’s rights

The word gender is used commonly but gender discrimination is used for women as they are victims of it. Since women were dependent on men for most of the things they were deprived of their rights and economic resources too. Even today many women work in domestic sphere where she does all house hold works and no one appreciates her effort but just complains about it.  Even though the number of women’s population is more than 40% their representation in public life is quite low.  Gender justice means equality among the two genders or two sexes.  Over the years, globally gender justice has gained a lot of strength as no state can grow well if one gender is discriminated by the other.  To get gender justice both women and men in all fields like social, economic, political they should benefit equally from the societies resources.  Since the inception of United Nations the focus has been given to gender equality and justice where a separate body has been formed to work on it.

From cradle to grave women are under the control of men in many societies even in this globalisation and modernisation era where she is oppressed, violence on her, discriminated etc. Main cause for women’s such a situation is illiteracy, economic dependence, caste restrictions, religious prohibition, apathetic attitude of male.  Equality between women and men also has to be done voluntarily in shared domestic work and this can be seen more in western world than our country although some men do share the work it is happening because of the pressure that is coming from the society and work pressure too.  Main gender injustice can be seen easily in many countries as where women get less pay than men for the same work which has to be stopped to bring in gender justice.  Gender justice states that no one can get to carry on high burdens and enjoy less benefits than others without proper pay just because of the gender difference.  Gender bias has been operating unconsciously at all levels of work and domestic life too.  If a woman who has dependents and who wishes to rise to the top position in her profession she will have to pay high costs than if she was a man.

We cannot trace much in history the fights for the rights of women and equal treatment of women but certainly there were lone voices which at times has battled for women’s rights around the world not just in India. In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft of England had pleaded to claim equality of women and in 1869 Susan B Anthony proclaimed the famous words like “equal pay, for equal work”.  Charles Fourier had long back said that “The extension of women’s rights is the basic principle of all social progress.”  In the Second World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in June 1993 equality principles have been adopted and India being party to such a convention is committed to the principles.  If we seek Indian Constitution it also wishes to provide equality of status and opportunity to all man and woman.  In 1979, Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), was adopted by the United Nations which is the landmark treaty which worked for the women’s right.  Under Article 39(a) state has to direct its policy whereby it secures all the citizens both men and women equally to get an adequate means of livelihood.

In Smt. V. Barani vs 2 The Inspector of Labour on 5 April, 2010 Madras High Court held that all workplaces should follow the norms to preserve and enforce the right to gender equality to all working women.  In another case, Punjab National Bank by Chairman and another v. Astamija Dash 30 April 2008, a woman can get leave as per maternity benefit act, for a period of 6 weeks from her delivery date or miscarriage and her request for same cannot be questioned and no one can ask her to work during that period.  Without public support and opinion the gap between man and woman cannot be removed by just the laws.  As the people are not willing to change the society laws will not be effective as it is ahead of public opinion.  To improve women’s status in any society or even in India laws should be enacted and people should strongly willingly back them and change their conservative thinking which is deep rooted in our society.  Women should themselves realise their potentials that strengthen themselves and their image and to take action in life.  Indian legislations have passed many laws and policies to bring in the gender justice and equality and also for development of women.

During the colonial period in India, many laws were enacted by the legislators toPunjab National Bank by Chairman and another v. Astamija Dash and their rights like:

1829: Abolition of Sati

1856: Widow Remarriage made legal

1870: Female infanticide banned

1891: Age of consent raised to 12 years for girls

1921: Women get rights to vote in Madras province

1929: Child Marriage Restraint Act

1937: Women get special rights to property

1954: Special Marriage Act

1955: Hindu Marriage Act

1956: Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act

1961: Dowry Prohibition Act

1981: Criminal Law Amendment Act

1986: The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act

1987: Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act

In a book called Due Process of Law Lord Denning has said that a woman feels as clearly as a man and has as much right as a man to her freedom and when she marries she become an equal partner to her husband and not his servant thus they both are equals and no one is above other or under the other.  Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General, has said that “Gender equality 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.”  In 2005 world summit world leaders said that if there is progress of women it is progress for all.  If women are considered subordinate to men in the society such acts will constrain their participation in all fields in the growth of the country.  In the present century Indian society is changing and it has started realising women’s importance.

References:

  1. Gender Justice: A Conceptual Analysis http://www.ocwjournalonline.com/Adminpanel/product_images/39172f2f9c3cbcc06b31880d9e870966.pdf
  2. Gender Justice by Anca Gheaus  http://www.jesp.org/PDF/gender_justice_finalized.pdf
  3. Women Empowerment And Gender Justice http://www.tnsja.tn.nic.in/Article/Women%20Empowerment%20and%20Gender%20Justice-Dipak%20Mishra.pdf
  4. Smt. V. Barani Vs 2 The Inspector Of Labour http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1135277/; Punjab National Bank by Chairman and another v. Astamija Dash http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1129587/

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