Human right as a subject is not new to the society, it’s advent dates back to Ancient Indian period as well as the medieval period, where there are mentions of social, political & cultural rights for every human. Human right is essentially an entitled virtue as said by Mother Teresa. We, are born with the right to freedom of thought, expression etc.
Gender equality is crucial as it is an inlaid virtue of human rights i.e, all humans should have equal standing in society with regards to their rights, no man is ignored in the eyes of law. Gender equality and equity stands for the upholding of this reality that everyone is equal men, women & transgenders.
Human rights in India is complex, due to its population, diverse culture, educational stature and personal affiliations.
India was one of the original signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and hence adopted the same in the framing of the Constitution.
The Constitution of India provides for these rights under FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS enshrined in Part III & under part IV under the Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP).
GENDER EQUALITY & EQUITY:
Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women, men, girls and boys & transgenders as well. In recent years, women's empowerment has been identified as a critical factor in establishing women's status.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS & POLICIES AIDING GENDER EQUALITY:
1. GENERAL PROVISIONS:
a) Article 14- equal rights and opportunities for men and women in the political, economic and social sphere
b) Article 15- prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex, religion, caste etc
c) Article 15(3) - empowers the State to take affirmative measures for women
d) Article 16- provides for equality of opportunities in the matter of public appointments
e) National Policy for Empowerment of Women
a) Article 39- provides an adequate means of livelihood to men and women and – Equal pay for equal work
b) Article 42- State to ensure the provision for just and humane condition of work and maternity relief.
c) Article 51v (A) (e) - Fundamental duty of every citizen to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
3. LABOUR LAWS:
The reality of India’s work culture is that most labour exists in the unorganized sector where a high number of women are employed to cut costs. It is here that women are not provided fair and just prices for their work and are overworked. They are treated cruelly in some places as well, and that is “reality”.
There are some provisions provided by the constitution for women empowerment: a) Prohibition of Sexual Harassment in workplace, POSHO Act.
b) The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
c) The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
d) Minimum Wages Act, 1948
4. POLITICAL RIGHTS:
The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution brought in the reservation of 33 percent for women in the Panchayat and Municipality elections. This amendment was aimed to promote the participation of women in politics, as it almost became dominated by males. There should be representatives everywhere and this includes the field of politics as well.
Hence the provision for reservations came into existence.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS & POLICIES:
The goal of these policies and constitutional provisions is to being about change in the way the system works. It is to bring about advancement, development and empowerment of women in the existing world. This is also aimed to make sure women get equal opportunities in all the fields i.e., political, economic, social, cultural & civil. These provisions aim to provide health care, education and all the basic rights for the standardised living of a human being. We can also see that the DPSP’s provide for a clause which is aimed to change the societal attitude and practices, elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and girl children.
NOTABLE GAINS WHEN GENDER EQUALITY & EQUITY IS PROVIDED:
Women workforce is gradually increasing in all segments due to the provisions and policies provided by the constitution and the government. We could see two female scientists from ISRO head the development of Chandrayaan II from scratch, which has outright demolished the idea that space research is a field for men only. This is just one such example. With equal opportunities and gender equality, society can grow exponentially.
RECENT IMPROVEMENTS IN LAW:
The recent improvements in gender equality and equity includes the scrapping of Article 377 in the case Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India, where the Supreme Court unanimously held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised carnal intercourse against the natural order, was unconstitutional. The order gave the LGBTQ+ community a right which they have been demanding for, for ages.
This order has altered the course of gender equality in the right direction. The law provides for human rights and gender equality & equity as a birth right. This cannot be applied arbitrarily and hence makes the order a very crucial part to the positive change of course and action towards providing gender equality for all sects of the human society.
The fight for gender equality isn’t complete as many more people are yet to receive justice with regards to gender equality and equity. The government should now focus on implementing these laws and policies to a much better extent as this is the missing link to the advancement of gender equality.
Moreover, the government should educate the population at a higher rate with regards to equality, and should take steps to enlighten the public about equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and other such communal issues where gender equality is ostracised.
Once these improvements are made there will be an abundance of opportunities, which will put India on the map for furthering Human Rights as well as set an example for implementation for human rights, gender equality and equity.
This article is written by Jayaprakash G of Ramaiah College Of Law.