The concept of women's empowerment is extensively discussed and acknowledged as a vital aspect of societal change.
Women's leadership and participation in communities have often been difficult to achieve and occasionally misused, but they have served as powerful tools for empowering women in the context of development. Women have strived to challenge established powers for the betterment of their communities, and their collective strength has enabled them to succeed.
Recognizing the rights of women worldwide is crucial for understanding global well-being. This acknowledgment helps foster a new sense of individuality, as stated by Pratiba Patel. The main goal behind various empowerment programs is to create an environment that grants women equal status in family, society, and the country.
President of India (Express newspaper April. 14. 2011) Despite women holding a significant place in all societies, be it develope...
d, developing or underdeveloped, they still belong to a marginalized group due to various societal barriers and obstacles they face throughout their lives.
As a girl, sister, married woman, and female parent, she endeavors tirelessly to achieve equality with men.
The empowerment of women in different time periods is highlighted in the developmental stages of adult females.
During this period, women experienced a fair amount of freedom and equality. Referred to as feminine glorification, the Vedic period allowed women to participate in various domains traditionally dominated by men. They had the opportunity to study in Gurukulas and enjoyed equal rights in learning Vedas.
In the Aitereya Upanishad, the married woman was referred to as the comrade of her husband. In the Rig-Veda, the married woman was blessed to fulfill the role of a queen in her husband's household. The term used for this
According to MacDonnell and Keith, the word frequently used in the Veda characterizes both married women and hubbies, signifying the high position of women in ancient India.
Men and women collectively fulfilled spiritual duties and performed various tasks. In the Mahabharata, the married woman was referred to as the foundation of Dharma, prosperity, and enjoyment. Spiritual responsibilities could not be undertaken by adult males without their married partners. Hence, this highlights the similar position of women in the modern Western world.
The position of adult females in India was based on autonomy, equality, and co-operation. However, during the Post-Vedic Period, their position experienced a decline due to restrictions imposed on women's rights and privileges by Manu. This decline can be traced back to the period of the Manusmriti and the increasing authority of men. The birth of a girl, which was not a cause for concern during the Vedic period, became a source of tragedy for the father.
Education, which had been a recognized norm for adult females, was neglected and later on, girls were completely denied access to education. Despite the overall societal and cultural subordination of adult females, it is surprising to find that lawmakers recognized the right to belongings, particularly that which was known as streedhana.
Medieval Time Period
During the Medieval Time Period, the status of adult females deteriorated due to invasions by Alexander and the Huns. Their education and training abruptly ceased, and for safety reasons, their movement outside was restricted, thereby depriving them of opportunities in community affairs.
Uneducated and lacking status, these individuals were considered as possessions, experiencing social problems such as sati and child marriage.
Female infanticide and mistreatment of women
were prevalent during the medieval period, leading to significant hardships. This immoral custom was deeply rooted, along with the widespread practice of Devadasi. Women faced oppression within feudal social structures and patriarchal households.
The British Period
During this time...
Under British rule, Hindu society experienced notable transformations in behavior and lifestyle due to instruction and Western influence on India's socio-cultural life. The status of women was influenced by two significant movements: the Social Reform Movement in the 19th century and the Nationalist Movement in the 20th century. These movements both challenged the concept of gender equality.
The issues that caught the attention of 19th century social reformists were sati, mistreatment of widows, the prohibition on widow remarriage, polygamy, child marriage, denial of property rights, and education for women.
The Reformers believed that granting adult females access to education and enacting progressive legislation could initiate social change. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and M. G.
Ranade, Mahatma Phule, Lokhitwadi, Aurobindo, and others from all parts of the state spoke out against unfair patterns. Meanwhile, evangelists such as Dayamanda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, and Annie Besant believed in returning to the old Vedic society, which was considered ideal for adult females.
[ 4 ] Mahatma Gandhiji strongly condemned child marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage, temple prostitution, and the practice of solitude. The nationalist movements not only attracted many women to engage in political activity but also instilled empowerment and confidence among them, enabling them to organize and fight for their cause.
The formation of the All India Women’s Conference in 1927 marked a significant milestone in women’s journey towards equality. Numerous laws were passed to combat various social injustices, such as legalizing the remarriage
of widows and enacting the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1978. Additionally, an Act was introduced to recognize the property rights of Hindu women.
In addition to societal statutory laws, women's work conditions were also influenced by several other laws. These included restrictions on working hours in organized industries, prohibition of night work, limitations on working in mines, and the establishment of nurseries for the children of female workers.
During British rule, social issues were increasingly recognized and women's empowerment advanced through education and political involvement. After independence, the most significant development has been the establishment of the Constitution of India, which upholds principles like equality, autonomy, and social justice.
The framers of the Constitution acknowledged the significance of liberating women and considered equality as vital for the progress of the nation. They recognized the need to provide education and economic opportunities to women in order to eradicate inequality and ensure the enjoyment of human rights. The state aimed to safeguard women from exploitation and uphold social justice, all of which were mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution. India's Constitution pledged in its preamble to ensure social justice for all citizens.
The concept of economic and political independence, along with the right to freedom of thought, belief, religion, and worship, equal opportunities and positions for all individuals, and fostering a sense of brotherhood to protect their self-esteem and the unity of the country.
Since the nation's establishment, the Constitution has been instrumental in safeguarding essential rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech, expression, protection of life, and personal autonomy. Gender equality and the preservation of women's rights have consistently remained prominent priorities.
The Constitution of India demonstrates its commitment to
safeguarding the rights and privileges of adult females. Article 14 guarantees equality before the law and equal protection under the law for all individuals.
The text prohibits discrimination and provides protection for women. It also prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth.
Article 15(3) grants the province the power to establish particular rules for women and children. Moreover, all citizens are ensured equal opportunities in terms of employment or qualification for any position within the state, with gender-based discrimination strictly forbidden.
 Article 19 (1) (a) addresses the Freedom of speech and expression, while Article 19 (1) (g) ensures the Freedom to practice any profession or engage in any trade or business. Meanwhile, Article 21 protects individuals from being deprived of their life or personal autonomy unless it is done through a legally established procedure. It also emphasizes that women have the right to choose a dignified.
An honorable and peaceful life with autonomy can be achieved through the Directive Principles of State Policy, as stated in Article 39. This article emphasizes the importance of providing equal rights to both workforce and women, including equal wages for equal work. The state is also directed to ensure fair and compassionate working conditions and support for pregnant women. Furthermore, every citizen has a fundamental responsibility to reject any practices that degrade the dignity of women. In summary, the framework of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles serves as a guide to realizing the goals outlined in the Constitution's Preamble.
Cardinal Duties excessively acknowledge continuing the self-respect of adult females as one of the responsibilities. The perceptual experiences on Fundamental Rights and the guidelines of Directing Principles of State
Policy are well reflected in assorted progressive labor statute laws such as:
- Industrial Dispute Act. 1947
- Minimum Wages Act. 1948
- Factories Act. 1948
- Maternity Benefit Act. 1961
Inspired by the constitutional precautions, the State has enacted assorted legislative steps to supply protection to adult females against societal favoritism, force, and atrociousness, and to prevent child marriages, dowry.
The text explores a range of laws concerning gender equality and the safeguarding of women's rights. The 1976 Equal Wage Act guarantees equal payment for men and women who perform the same duties. The Hindu Marriage Laws Amendment Act of 1955 was revised by the 1976 Marriage Laws Amendment Act, granting underage girls the ability to dissolve their marriages if unconsummated. Amendments were introduced in 1986 to address the sexual exploitation of females under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic against Women and Girls Act of 1956.
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1986, previously known as the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, is a law that addresses various crimes. In 1984, an amendment was added to prohibit subjecting women to cruel treatment. Furthermore, an additional amendment in 1986 stipulates that if a woman takes her own life within seven years of marriage and there is evidence of mistreatment, the husband or in-laws will be held accountable.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 sets the minimum marriage age at 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. The Factories Act of 1948 requires workplaces with over 30 female employees to establish a creche. According to the
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, qualified professionals are authorized to conduct abortions in cases of compassion or medical necessity. Additionally, the "Indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act" prohibits the inappropriate depiction of women.
In 1987, laws were enacted in India to safeguard the dignity of women, prevent violence against them, and foster their development. Additionally, several initiatives were implemented to promote women's rights. In response to a request from the United Nations General Assembly, the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) was established in 1971. Its primary objective was to examine how constitutional, legal, and administrative provisions influenced women's social standing, education, and employment. Furthermore, it sought to evaluate the effects of these provisions on women's status over the preceding two decades.
Specifically, the study aimed to identify more effective measures and propose solutions in the rural sector. It also examined the education development of women, particularly in areas with slow progress, and suggested actions to address it. Additionally, the investigation focused on studying issues faced by working women, including employment and wage discrimination.
The objective of this study was to analyze the position of women as homemakers and mothers in society's changing landscape, as well as their challenges regarding higher education and job opportunities.
The commission released a report called 'Towards Equality' in December 1974, which marked a notable shift in societal perspectives in India. The report highlighted the importance of conducting studies or case studies to evaluate the impact of population policies and family planning codes on women's social standing, as well as implementing other initiatives to empower women in nation-building.
Founded on January 31, 1992, the National Commission for Women (NCW)
is a statutory organization governed by the National Commission for Women Act of 1990. Its main focus is to assess constitutional and legal provisions related to women and suggest necessary amendments to rectify any shortcomings or insufficiencies in these laws. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality and advocate for women's rights.
The participation of adult females in economic development and the assessment of their progress is significant. However, there are several countries where inequality still persists for working adult females. Such issues include: a higher percentage of adult females engaged in lower-skilled part-time work, less promotion and lower earnings for women, underrepresentation of women in government compared to men, a disproportionate burden of household work and childcare on women, and the portrayal of women as weaker and sexual objects.
Over the years, the general public has developed complete trust in the Judiciary. The Supreme Court of India has responded positively to matters concerning gender justice.
In the past, the apex tribunal has made determinations that have greatly advanced the cause and self-respect of women. In the Nigammar vs. Chikkaiah Case (2000), it was determined that compulsory blood trial to determine paternity violated the fundamental right of life or autonomy. In the Chandrimadas Case (2000)...
The Supreme Court has determined that in cases where an adult female from Bangladesh is raped by a group, compensation can be awarded under public law (Constitution) for the violation of Fundamental Rights within the jurisdiction of Domestic Law, as outlined in Constitutional provisions and Human Rights law. This ruling was made in John Vallamatton V. Union of India (2003) .
The Indian Supreme Court invalidated subdivision 118 of the
Indian Succession Act of 1925, which restricted the ability to leave belongings for spiritual or charitable purposes, unless done so in a specific manner. The Court acknowledged the global recognition of women's right to equality compared to men, deeming it immoral and illegal to discriminate against women based on their gender. In CEHAT V. Union of India (2001) , the Supreme Court highlighted the impact of unchecked female infanticide on the overall sex ratio in different states.
The Court issued directives to Cardinal authorities, State authorities, Union Territories, and appropriate governments for the implementation of the enacted Act in the case of CEHAT & A; Others v. Petitioners.
In 2002, the Supreme Court of India ruled that clinics with ultrasound machines must be registered and directed state authorities to raise public awareness. This decision recognized the importance of "Gender Equality" and acknowledged that formal equality provided by the Constitution and the Law does not guarantee equal enjoyment of all rights.
Despite achieving parity with men in areas such as education, empowerment, and political involvement, women still face inequality in the private sphere, particularly in marriage and the family.
In spite of the progress made in the education and participation of women in various fields, they still face occupational segregation and discrimination in the workplace due to attitudinal and organizational biases.
Excluding adult females from top executive occupations hinders their equality. Although women are more educated, they are still not equal. Gender equality encompasses economic, socio-political, and legal aspects, and it is not just a moral obligation.
The presence of economic opportunity for women is crucial for human progress and sustainable development, contradicting the polar opposite. However, it is important
to note that economic opportunity goes beyond mere presence and includes the quality of women's involvement in the economy. In developed countries, women often have relatively easy access to employment, although these opportunities are usually short-lived and paid less compared to men.
The Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, has recently brought up concerns about this matter. The issue of gender equality is a longstanding and pressing problem. Two decades ago, Mexico hosted the First World Conference on Women, which sparked a movement that has contributed to the reduction of gender inequality globally.
Illiteracy among adult females is deteriorating, while maternal mortality rates are declining and more women are participating in the labor force than ever before. Nowadays, women have overcome their social constraints and are prepared to face contemporary challenges without hesitation or assistance. As a result, on March 8th, they celebrate their achievements.
International Women's Day is officially observed and celebrated in several states, including India. It is considered a measure of recognition of women's achievements towards achieving equality of rights, status, self-respect, and their equal participation in economic, societal, and cultural development in the contemporary world.
Despite efforts made at the national and international levels to combat gender inequality, there is still much work to be done to address the growing violation of women's dignity. Do we truly have gender equality in reality? I would argue that women are clearly the victims in the gender equation.
In this current era, it is essential for society to recognize the pivotal role of women in driving social change and their significant impact on their surroundings and economic progress. Developing a positive perception towards women is
crucial as it ensures effective safeguarding and nurturing of their rights.
Physical force is just the visible manifestation of a deeper problem - a lack of respect. It is crucial that both society as a whole and men specifically, show a positive form of respect towards women and their wives. By doing so, other rights will naturally be upheld.
Despite numerous measures being taken to prevent discrimination and the implementation of extensive laws to promote equality, the issue of inequality still persists and is only discussed superficially. The fight against discrimination and inequality continues.
Force and disempowerment continue to occur, making the path to success unattainable.
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