Feminism is a controversial word in our country. The underlying reason for this dispute actually puts light on the suppressed women’s right in our nation. Though the things have improved extensively and the government has been working for the development of women. Our forefathers had recognised this suppressed condition of the women even at the time of drafting of the Constitution of India.

Our Indian constitution was written in an era when the social condition of Indian women was very poor and need an urgent reform. She was mentally and physically tortured in the society. She was struggling to find her social status and a respectable place in the society. At that time Indian women were in a need of some laws in order to improve their social position and to ensure proper safety against mental and physical torture. At that time Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, author of our Indian constitution, took certain constructive and much needed steps in favour of Indian women to make them independent and socially strong and today we can see the revolutionary change in the position and images of Indian women.

It is indeed a matter of pleasure that the position of women has improved in the last four decades. But still somewhere I feel that the presently Indian women are again a bit struggling to maintain their dignity and freedom. Mental and physical torture of women has again become common and that is why they have started feeling unsafe. As per my personal understanding with the proper knowledge of legal and constitutional rights of a woman their position can be further strengthened in the society. There are lots of provisions in our law which protects a woman from mental and physical torture.

After Independence, lots of legal provisions have been introduced to improve the social condition of women and to give them a platform where they can utilize their potential for their betterment and contribute positively towards the growth of their country. It is a fact that position and development of any country is dependent on the socio-economic position of its women. The provisions which enhanced the value of present women can be divided into two parts:

1. Constitutional provisions 
2. Parliamentary provisions

Constitutional provisions to ensure dignity of women

Lots of provisions have been introduced through constitution to ensure dignity and self respect of the women at large. As mentioned earlier that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, author of Indian constitution, made sure that constitution of India safeguards the social and legal rights of women.

Article 14 of constitution of India ensures equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. This is a very important provision which provides equal legal protection to women against any women based crime. This provision also paves way for the introduction of various laws and acts to ensure protection and enforcement of legal rights of women in India.

Article 15 of constitution of India ensures that no one should create any sort of discrimination only on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them within the territory of India. At the time of Independence there was lots of discrimination in India against women which gradually abolished after introduction of article 15. As per article 15(3) of the constitution state has the authority to make any special provision for women and children.

Article 16 of constitution of India ensures equal employment opportunity to every citizen of India. As per article 16 there should not be any discrimination in respect of employment opportunity under the State only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, and place of birth, residence or any of them.

Article 39 of constitution of India ensures the benefit of the directive principles of state policy to the women. Directive principles of state policy mean guiding principles while framing laws by the government at state level. Article 39(a) of directive principles of state policy ensures that a state undertake policies which focus on  men and women having equal rights and thus both have an adequate means of livelihood. Article 39(c) ensures equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

Article 42 of constitution of India caste a duty on every employer to ensure just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. In reality the position and treatment of women in corporate offices is really bad and in fact they are exploited by their seniors and bosses. In this scenario the provision of Article 42 is very important and now it is duty of employer to provide good working conditions to all the employees.

Article 243 of constitution of India ensures reservation of seats in Gram Panchayat for women. This opportunity of being a part of local level arbitration process has improved the social condition of women in villages.                                     . 

These are few rights which are given by our constitution to the Indian women in order to ensure their dignity and social respect. Further to protect these constitutional rights there are numerous legal steps (Parliamentary provisions) that have been taken by the Legislature in the form of various laws and statutory acts which we will discuss in detail in the next segment of this article which will be published in the next month subscription of this magazine. Watch out for this space next month for Part-II of this article!

Article is written by Adv. Bhavna Bajaj
Writer is also a Member of HRDI