women empowerment and gender justice

Abstract

Gender justice and women empowerment is not a modern phenomenon; it has been developing around the world. Women empowerment is basically providing all social,political, economic status to women. To be precise it is a process to provide all the denied aspects of life to women. India has been one of the fastest developing country, but it has bypassed the vulnerable, especially women. They are important part of society. With time, a lot has changed since the middle ages. But even after seventy years of independence there are cases of harassment, dowry etc. By which women are still exploited. Though various constitutional amendments have been made for gender equality but it is mind set of human beings that need to be changed for development of female section of the society. Women in India slowly started out recognising her actual capability. She has begun questioning the rules laid down for her by the society. As an end result, she has started breaking boundaries and earned a respectable role in the world. Today Indian women have progressed in each and every discipline; there is no area, which remains unconquered by Indian women. Whether it is politics, sports, amusement, literature, technology everywhere, its women strength all along.This paper tries to explore the aspects responsible for gender inequality in country and suggestions for gender justice in country. It has observed the role of the three organs of the government that is legislative, judiciary and executive in reducing gender inequality.

Keywords: Gender Justice, Women Empowerment, Development, Harassment, Equality

Research Questions

  1. What norms are responsible for gender inequality in country?
  2. Is government taking efficient steps for women empowerment?
  3. Whether the provisions available for women are enough for gender justice?

Introduction

“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”– Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru

Empowerment represents the granting of social, political or economic power to a person or group. Women empowerment targets to provide women same opportunities as well. Women’s empowerment has five components: women’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally. It is the method of helping women, to assist them discover and provide them with the support to assert their personal power.

Gender inequality is primarily an issue of unequal power relations between men and women. It violates human rights, constrains choice and agency, and has negative impacts upon people’s ability to participate in, contribute to and benefit from social, political and economic development. It is essential that we work together and use our influence to create just and equitable relationships between women and men in order to achieve fair, sustainable, resilient and thriving communities.The impacts of gender injustice are experienced most severely by women and girls. Women may face discrimination at home and in the work place. They make up the overwhelming majority of the worlds’ poor. Women suffer heavily in times of war and conflict but are significantly under-represented at peace tables and in governance structures. Cultural constraints may hinder women’s movements and access to health care. The valuing of boys over girls leads to female foeticide and infanticide. Millions of girls and women are affected by female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage and violence based on gender.

The laws are enacted to empower women through granting them political strength and through assisting women achieve economic control and authority through education and social upliftment. Women empowerment is very necessaryfor developing a stronger economicsystem and attaining internationally furthering goals for sustainable development. Laws provide a vital foundation for fulfilling this motive through creating a constructive surroundings forgrowth,and for facilitating women empowerment. An evaluation of those laws can provide us a framework of how laws can be categorised. In the purview of legal analysis, laws can be extensively labelled as protectionist or paternalistic.

Why We Need Women Emprowment?

‘Women represent fifty percent of population, make up thirty percent of the official labour force, perform sixty per cent of all working hours, receive ten percent of the world income and own less than one percent of the world property'[footnoteRef:6]Want for women empowerment and gender equality is vital because of the domination and discrimination done by men over women for centuries; women are the suppressed alot. They are the goal of various types of violence and discriminatory practices executed by men all around the world. India is not any one of a kind.

India is a complex country. We have, through centuries, advanced various sorts of customs, traditions and practices. Those customs and traditions exact as well as bad have turn out to be part of our society’s collective consciousness. We worship female goddesses; we also give exceptional significance to our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and different female relatives or friends. But on the same time, Indians are also well-known for treating their women badly both inside and outside their houses. Indian society includes humans belonging to almost all types of religious beliefs. In each faith women are given a unique place and each faith teaches us to deal with women with respect and dignity. But some way the society has so developed that various kinds of ill practices, both bodily and mental, towards women have become a norm since ages. For example, Sati system, practice of dowry, Pardah system, girl infanticide, wife burning, sexual violence, sexual harassment at work place, domestic violence and various other sorts of discriminatory practices which includes bodily as well as mental abuse.

The motives for such behaviour towards female are many but the maximum vital one are the male superiority complex and patriarchal system of society. Although to eliminate these ill practices and discrimination in opposition to women numerous constitutional and legal rights are there but in fact there are a lot to be done. Women’s empowerment and material advancement helps them toimprove their status in society and strengthens their economic position. So, if women are tobe empowered, it is essential to supply them an increasing network of support services sothat they are liberated from some of their gender-linked restraints. For that to exchange, the society’s age-old deep-rooted mind set desires to be changed through social conditioning and sensitization programmes.

Women Oriented Legislations: a Move to Facilitate Gender Justice

“Increased rate of crime against women is an area of concern for the lawmakers and it points out an emergent need to study in depth the root of the problem and remedy the same through a strict law and order regime”.

In our society, a woman is always seen to be dependent on men. Before the onset of puberty, she is dependent on her father, after marriage on her husband and in old age on the mercy of her children. The patriarchal system in India made the lives of women miserable and made her dependent on men, who exercised dominance over them. With the changing time, various modifications had been introduced in the laws concerning females, which not only recognize their rights but also protect them against all sorts of exploitation. In order to improve the status and conditions of women in India, Legislature enacted various laws that are as follows:

Statutes

1829, Abolition of Sati; This regulation made the practice of sati or the immolation of a Hindu widow on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband illegal in all jurisdictions of British India and subject to prosecution. After the promulgation of this regulation all persons convicted of aiding and abetting in the sacrifice of a Hindu widow, by burning or burying her alive, whether the sacrifice be voluntary on her part or not, shall be deemed guilty of culpable homicide, and shall be liable to punishment by fine or by both fine and imprisonment.

1856 Widow Remarriage made legal; The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, enacted on 26 July 1856, legalised the remarriage of Hindu widows in all jurisdictions of India under East India Company rule. It was enacted in response to the campaign of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, provided legal safeguards against loss of certain forms of inheritance for remarrying a Hindu widow.

1870 Female infanticide banned; The Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870 was a legislative act passed in British India, to prevent murder of female infants. The British colonial authorities passed the Female Infanticide Prevention Act 1870, under pressure of Christian missionaries and social reformers seeking an end to the incidences of female infanticides in South Asia. The law’s preamble stated that the murder of female infants is believed to be commonly committed in certain parts of British India, and these were Oudh, North-Western Provinces and Punjab.

1891 age of consent raised to 12 years for girls; The Age of Consent Act, 1891, was a legislation enacted in British India on 19 March 1891 which raised the age of consent for sexual intercourse for all girls, married or unmarried, from ten to twelve years in all jurisdictions, its violation subject to criminal prosecution as rape. The act was an amendment of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 375, 1882.

1929 Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed; ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 passed on 28 September 1929 in the British India Legislature of India, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years which was later amended to 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Despite strong opposition from the British authorities, the legislation was passed by the British Indian Government which had a majority of Indians.

1937 women get special rights to property; Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act 1937 deals with the rights of Hindu widows, on the death of the husband who does not make any Will. In such cases, the widow is entitled to a limited share of the property as that of a son.

1954 Special Marriage Act was passed; The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.

1955 Hindu Marriage Act was passed; Themain purpose of the act was to amend and codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus and others. This act contained provisions of separation and divorce. This act brought uniformity in the personal laws of Hindus.

1961 Dowry Prohibition Act was passed; The Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted on May 1, 1961, intended to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry includes property, goods, or money given by either party to the marriage, by the parents of either party, or by anyone else in connection with the marriage and applies to persons of all religions in India.

Apart from the above mentioned enactments, there are some enactments which help to improve the working conditions of women. They are: Maternity Benefit Act 1961; Payment of Wages Act 1936; Employees State Insurance Act 1948; Minimum Wages Act 1948; The Workmen Compensation Act 1921; Factories Act 1948 and Pensions Act 1987.

Other Laws

Further, various laws such as IPC, CrPC and IEA inherit certain provisions to provide protection to women such as provisions relating to dowry death, cruelty, sexual harassment etc. Recently the Parliament has made certain amendments in The Indian Penal Code by inserting three clauses in the provisions related to rape i.e. Sec. 376AB, Sec. 376DA and Sec. 376DB. With the establishment of NHRC ad SHRC and various commissions for women, gender sensitive issues are receiving prominent consideration.

The implementation of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 by the Indian Parliament, was a step towards reducing violence against women and protection of women and girls against various offences. The new law in India retains the dialect and provisions dealing with the “outraging the modesty” and chastity of a woman and then simply extends the scope of exercises that undermine or blemish this antiquated understanding of female sexuality. This approach cannot be a formula for strengthening nor encourage dynamic change in deduction on issues of sex and sexuality.

Perhaps the most significant and inescapable issue left unaddressed by the new law is the everyday sexism that infests the working environment, the society, the media and the instructive framework. No amount of censorship of sexual images can address the problem of sexism, the execution of which was on full presentation in the Indian Parliament amidst the discussions on the new law. While sexual harassment is criminalised, a focus on deterrence does not kill sexism nor deliver regard for women.

In 1967, United Nations Member States adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which states that discrimination against women is an offence against human dignity and calls on States to “abolish existing laws, customs, regulations and practices which are discriminatory against women, and to establish adequate legal protection for equal rights of men and women”. Less than a year later a proposal for a legally binding treaty on women’s rights was made. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the General Assembly in 1979. Its preamble explains that, despite the existence of other instruments, women still do not enjoy equal rights with men. The Convention articulates the nature and meaning of sex-based discrimination, and lays out State obligations to eliminate discrimination and achieve substantive equality. As with all human rights treaties, only States incur obligations through ratification. However, the Convention articulates State obligations to address not only discriminatory laws, but also practices and customs, and discrimination against women by private actors.

Judical Pronouncements

In 1986, in Maya Devi v. State of Maharashtra the fact was challenged that women has to obtain their husband’s consent for being in a public services as a violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16. The Court stressed on the importance of economic independence of women, in overcoming past exploitation and traditional disadvantages.

Anotherlandmark judgment, Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. Ltd. v. Audrey D’costa addressed some concerns regarding economic benefits for women. Supreme Court held that discrimination with regard to unequal payment on the grounds of sex of the employee is illegal and directed equal pay for equal work for work of a same nature.

Air India v. NargeshMirza,[footnoteRef:19] the Supreme Court invalidate the provisions and rules by an authority which terminated the service of an air hostess because of f pregnancy by declaring it as an arbitrary and unreasonable action by the authority which disturbs the notions of a civilized society.

In PratibhaRanu v. Suraj Kumar,[footnoteRef:20] the apex Court held that the stridhanproperty to be in custody of a married woman and she has full right of control over those. The mere fact that the dowry items are being used by both of them mutually as they are residing with each other does not take away her right of absolute ownership over the items.

In Gita Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India, in this case the Court interpreted Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 and held that the mother could act as the natural guardian of the minor during the father’s lifetime if the father was no taking responsibility of any actions or affairs of the minor.

Another landmark judgement was given by the Apex Court in the case of  Vishaka and Others v. State of Rajasthan, sexual harassment at work place is clear violation of rights of gender equality and right to life and liberty and is violativeof Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Hon’Ble court held that the significance and substance material of the major rights cherished in the constitution of India are of enough abundance to incorporate the majority of the information of sex equity alongside counteractive action of lewd behaviour or misuse.

In the case, Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra, again Supreme Court stated that sexual harassment and abuse of female, consequences in violation of fundamental rights given to women for their protection guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the constitution. The court in addition held that international instruments which provides various other rights to women such as the convention on the elimination of All kinds of Discrimination towards women and the Beijing declaration imposes duties on the state to take suitable measures to protect gender equalities and shield the honour and dignity of women.

Government Role in Reducing Gender Inequality

BetiBachao, BetiPadhao

It is one of the most remarkable action taken by Indian government which is very essential for the development and upliftment of women in a society by encouraging them to be educated and well trained sector of the nation which will guarantee their protection. The scheme is helpful in declining the child sex ratio as from the past 70 years society is been affixed to practices of female infanticide and this plan of government commending the birth of a girl child and also to make people proud of their girl child.The Overall Goal of the BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) Scheme is to celebrate thegirl child and enable her education. The objectives of the Scheme are as under:

  • To prevent gender biased sex selective elimination
  •  To ensure survival and protection of the girl child
  • To ensure education and participation of the girl child.

SukanyaSamriddhi Account

This is the extension of the abovementioned plan launched in 2015. In this scheme the government objective is to help financially the families of daughters for their education as well as marriage. In Indian society girls marriage is been preferred rather than their education and to achieve a turn around, this plan came into existence to support girl child to fulfil her dreams as well as in her future life. The basic aim is to ensure a bright future of a girl.

One Stop Center Scheme

From the very beginning women has been exploited in many manners-physical,mental, psychological. Women are struggling from misuse, abuse,brutality which should be prevented. And for the protection of women this scheme has been implemented by the government of india.it was introduced in April 2015 with the objective of upliftment of women. The aim of this scheme is to provide assistance to women who have been affected by any type of violence whether in private or public places. Also to give aid and facilitate them by any means that is legal, medical, psychological support.

Pradhan MantriUjjwalaYojana

Pradhan MantriUjjwalaYojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.

Pradhan MantriUjjwalaYojana was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi on May 1st, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. Under this scheme, 5 Cr LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection in the next 3 years. Ensuring women’s empowerment, especially in rural India, the connections will be issued in the name of women of the households. Rs. 8000 Cr. has been allocated towards the implementation of the scheme. Identification of the BPL families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data.

Mahila E-Haat

A plan to boost up the economic practices of India. Its object is to engage women of different society in business.it is an online marketing where women display their products, it is an opportunity given to women as an entrepreneurship which is also a part of ‘Digial India’ and ‘Stand up India’.This scheme was introduced in 2016.

Rajiv Gandhi National Scheme for Children of Working Mothers

Despite how talented or devoted a mother is, her children will always be priority. She will surrender a successful business just to deal with her kids. To lessen this dropout, which is wide in our country, the administration has thought of this arrangement for upliftment in 2006. As there has been a groundbreaking addition in number of work for women and moreover the need to enable the family to wage as a result of expanding inflation, this is an acknowledged development for all. It will give day-care offices, improved sustenance, vaccination offices, and set the stage for better physical, mental and social advancement of posterity of working ladies. All of us, whosoever needs and can, must endeavour and profit the benefit of this plan.

Maternity Benefit Program

The work by pregnant women has been the issue in our country for various years. This plan is for their benefit as by this step government provides shelter and other facilities necessary for pregnant women. The name of the scheme is Pradhan Mantra MatritvaVandanaYojna which is launched in 2017. It presents conditional money exchange for ladies of 19 years or above who are expecting or lactating for her initial two children. It also covers the wage misfortune acquired amid this period.

Women’s Helpline

The objectives of the Scheme are:

  • To provide toll-free 24-hours telecom service to women affected by violence seeking support and information.
  • To facilitate crisis and non-crisis intervention through referral to the appropriate agencies such as police/ Hospitals/ Ambulance services/District Legal ServiceAuthority (DLSA)/Protection Officer (PO)/OSC.
  • To provide information about the appropriate support services, government schemes and programmes available to the woman affected by violence, in herparticular situation within the local area in which she resides or is employed.

Steps Required for Women Empowerment and Gender Justice

There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women”.

The laws and acts as well as forms of discriminations or inequalities might maintain but the modification can solely come once the mentality of men will change; when the males of the society of will start treating all females as equal and not below or weaker to them. If truth be told not solely men, however women conjointly have to be compelled to change their mentality,as through cultural learning they have got also emerge as a part of the same exploitative patriarchal system and are enjoying an accessory role in furthering men’s goal of dominating girls.

The motion for women’s empowerment wherein women can turn out to be economically independent and self-reliant is needed, where they could fight their very own fears and go out in the world fearless. Eliminating all practices that discriminate against women; assisting women to establish and realize their rights, including those that relate to reproductive and sexual health;

Strategies for development of women must be higher literacy, more formal education, and greater employment possibility. Education is one of the most essential way of empowering women with the expertise, abilities and self-confidence essential to take part fully in the development procedure.

In job opportunities there shall be provisions and reservations. In governance all rights and all criminal measures ought to be available for women’s protection and guide. Human rights education , recognise a way to take control of their situation , help to acquire their personal goals, supporting themselves, enhancing their quality of life and motivating for their own development. Collaborators along with NGO, INGOs, NPOs, SHGs, CBOs, policy makers, nearby leaders, data disseminators, fitness care providers, instructors and circle of relatives, individuals must assist in the social development of women.

An established manner to overcome many systemic barriers to a woman’s success has been increased participation by girls in local, regional and countrywide legislation as empowered change agents. In just 10 years, the number of women keeping seats in houses of national parliament in south Asia rose from 7% to 18%. Butan international aim of identical representation continues to be a long way off, with best one woman for each four men in parliamentary houses. A female’s voice and her potential to end up a leader in her network is essential to empowering women.

The health and protection issues of women are paramount for the wellbeing of a country, and are crucial factors in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming worries in which maternal healthcare is concerned. Even as there are numerous packages that have been set into motion through the authorities and several NGOs in the country, there may be still a huge gap that exists between those under protection and people not. Poverty and illiteracy add to these complications with local quacks giving useless and downright harmful treatments to problems that women have. The empowerment of women begins with a guarantee in their health and safety.

Sexual harassment is a violation of women’s human right. So, whenever you see or become aware of such instances, whether in the workplace, streets, home or the online space, raise your voice against it.

Conclusion

“There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved, it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”

Women around the world share a common situation; they may be not full and equal individuals in public policy choices that have an effect on their lives. Nowhere is the gap between de jure and de facto equality among men and women greater than in the place of decision making. The top decision making role remain largely male dominated spheres wherein women have little impact. The shortage of women’s participation in political decision making has critical outcomes. It deprives women of vital rights and responsibilities as citizens, and excludes their perspectives and pursuits from policy making and decision making. Their voices are lacking from key choices on national budgets and setting of government priorities. Their abilities and perspective often remain unheard, underrepresented or left out.

In recent times girls’ participation in public existence is on the rise. Some of women are occupying top corporate positions as KiranMajumdar Shaw Indian, they’re additionally leading sports people, movie stars, and civil society activists. It shows that show that talented, determined women are making it in every nook of this conventional society – a society that was totally male-dominated in 1947.

To virtually understand what women empowerment and gender justice is, there needs to be a sea-change in the mind-set of the humans within the country. Not just the women themselves, but the men ought to wake up to a global that is moving towards equality and fairness. It is better that this is embraced earlier rather than later, for our personal good. We have many schemes, many programs for the purpose of women empowerment at each level of administration, all we need is a great device and corporations for the implementation of those guidelines and programs. And if we will increase that system, if we will enforce these programs then the purpose of women empowerment may be achieved very easily via these programs. Proper awareness for laws must be there that is law ought to not be restrained to papers most effective however the implementation of regulation must be there in order that every female may be familiar with her rights.

Considerable steps should be taken to enforce all the laws that are amended to facilitate detention, prevention and punishment of crimes towards women. Women education needs to be made compulsory and women should be encouraged to turn out to be literate due to the fact without being educated women cannot have a access to her right. Strict implementation of the schemes and regulations for women empowerment must be carried out. Awareness camps for girls have to be prepared where they can become familiar with the framed schemes and policies and may take benefit of those schemes and policies.

When it comes to making sure Gender Justice in India, the 3 organs of the government – legislative, executive and judiciary – have to work simultaneously for a Gender just country. We have a long way to go but we will get there someday.

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