Women rights and status in India- Constitutional and legal perspectives

A woman is considered a cradle of human development. A woman is a key to the family, be it wife, daughter, sister or mother. It is also believed that if the family has a woman who is educated and knows her rights then ultimately the family will develop a sense of intellect and respectful for every woman. Therefore, every woman needs to be respected no matter what choice of living she has or what caste, color, creed, race, religion she belongs to.

Every woman deserves respect but since time immemorial ’s status is believed to be in their husband’s feet. Also, various ancient practices like Sati, Widow remarriage, Dowry are examples of the status of women that are still practiced in some parts of India.

STATUS OF WOMEN IN INDIA

The status of Indian women was always below men but with time where the idea of women empowerment is creating its space everywhere, India is amongst a country that still has a very low status of women. The Government of India has made many laws and acts to safeguard and secure the life of women in the country. In spite of such rules and regulations, the life of women is still not safe and secure. Inequality and low opinion about the status of women have contributed to a huge amount of crimes. Crimes like Rape, Domestic violence, molestation, etc are often committed due to ancient views of the low status of women.  

The Government of India has taken some steps which help in securing the economic, cultural, social lives of women.

Women rights and status in India- Constitutional and legal perspectives
  • Hindu Remarriage Act of 1856,
  • Indian Penal Code 1860,
  • Maternity Benefit Act of 1861,
  • Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1886,
  • Christian Marriages Act 1872,
  • Guardians and Wards Act of 1890,
  • Dowry Prohibition Act 1961,
  • Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971,
  • Muslim Women (Protection of rights on divorce) Act 1986,
  • National Commission for Women Act 1990,
  • Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1999,
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005,
  • Sexual Harassment of Woman at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, etc.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

These are various constitutional articles that ensure equal rights and opportunities to women.

1) Article 14 before Law: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of laws within the territory of India.

2) Article 15(1)– The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

3) Article 15(2)- No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction.

3) Article 15(3)– The State to make special provisions in favor of women and children.

4) Article 16– Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

5) Article 39(a)– The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood and Article 39(d)- the right to equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

6) Article 39(A)– To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

7) Article 42– The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

8) Article 46– The State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Women rights and status in India- Constitutional and legal perspectives

9) Article 47– The State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health.

10) Article 51(A)(e)– To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

11) Article 243D (3)– Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

12) Article 243D (4)– Not less than one-third of the total number of the office of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level to be reserved for women.

13) Article 243T (3)– Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Cates and Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.

14) Article 243T (4)– Reservation of offices of Chairpersons in Municipalities for Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such a manner as the legislature of State may by law provide.

Along with all these provisions, the Preamble of the emphasizes the ultimate authority of the people. There is no sex and the words “We the People of India” include both males and females. Also, words like Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are not limited to one sex.

CONCLUSION

Women are considered the weakest but are actually the strongest. Taking reference from history Razia Sultan, Rani Laxmi Bai, etc were ill-treated but are now remembered as great women. Women have achieved great heights in every sphere of life. If you respect women, you respect your world.

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