We live in a liberal society. The phenomena of democracy and open education have bridged the gulf of inequality between men and women to a great extent. They both have been given the freedom to enjoy all the social benefits and their complete selves. During last decades of 90’s the modern scientific and liberal outlook has greatly facilitated the women. Modern education has allowed the women to come out of the confines of the home and take an active part of society after independence. Women whose traditional position were home and hearth now are working shoulder-to-shoulder with every men in each and every field in last years 20th century. Women outlook towards life, her own position and destiny have undergone a complete change and it is reflected in her work. It is not to say that she has forgotten the value customs-she has simply realigned herself and is trying to bring out the best of her without disregarding any traditional values.
The position of Indian women can be analyzed from two stand-points –pre independence and post independence , our society was very orthodox. Women were not much mobile in society. The set up of joint family and male guardianship some professions, but that was mainly nursing and education. But with independence not only the social condition changed but people’s outlook too. Liberal education and equal political rights were two things that helped women more than any other things. Not only they were given all opportunities professionally, but also some professions traditionally reserved for men were opened to them. As a result, women not only opted medical, engineering or education fields, but went in police, administration and scientific research, etc. as well. These days there is hardly any profession where they would not be seen commanding respect and power. Nature has placed more obligations on women than men by virtue of her being a mother. What makes her then take up such taxing and occupying professions? Some say financial independence is the key to self-reliance and this is what drives women towards a profession. It could be accepted as one factors. In running the family seems the obvious conclusion from this approach. However, it is not always the end case. The working women may be exploited at their work places. It is found that for the same work women get user salary than their male counterpart. They may be victims of sexual abuse. They may face problems in doing overtime or working during night, due to security reasons,. Also earning women can exploited by their unscrupulous relatives. In such a cases, profession doesn’t become the liberating gate but a bondage. In such case, just to defend their false sense of ego, many women continue their showy lifestyles and suffering inside. This could never be the purpose of education or employment because it doesn’t make herself reliant or confident. After all modernism, in its essence is to exercise one’s own choice freely in the good of all.
LEGISLATATION FOR BENEFIT OF WORKING WOMEN IN INDIA
There are several drastic problematic situation though which a women has to suffer at the workplace like proper sanitation problem, working hours and mostly the harassment cases. There are several legislation for the benefits of working women in India as :-
The reservation had been made part of Indian constitution by the framers of our constitution to improve the conditions of the underprivileged section, depressed class and minority. It is on this premises, women groups are demanding for reservation of 33% of the seat for women in parliament. An International Labour organization study shows that while women represents 50% of the world adult population and a third of the official labour force, they perform about 2/3rd of all working hours, receive a huge income still own less than 1% of the world property. It is a great irony that in every constituency 50 per cent of the voters are women still don’t have 33 per cent representation in the Parliament. At the same time there is no guarantee that 33% reservation will bring any dramatic change in the plight of women. And there is nothing in our history that proves that the women leaders would be great champions of feminism. India has had many women leaders, the most prominent among them was Indira Gandhi. She did not do anything special for women which her predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru did not do. Even presently, there are many women Chief Ministers in India, like Jayalalitha, Sheila Dixit, Vasundhara Raje who more or less act as male leaders. They are not doing anything special for women. However, if Women Reservation Bill is passed, it will give birth to new politics in India. All over the world India would be taken as the ideal for championing women’s rights. It would bring the lost glory which Indian women did enjoy in the past, when women were at the party with men. Than in India in the year 2008 the women reservation bill, 2008 passed in which the reservation for women has been granted for properly understanding the women problems as if there is presence of women representative in parliament their will solving of women problem easier as they are relatable situation.
Safety and health measures we have section 22(2) in it stated that cleaning, lubricate heavy machine is prohibited by women worker and 27 of the factories act, 1948 states that women are prohibited for pressing the cotton in the machine.
Prohibition of night work for women as per section 66(1)(b) of the factories Act, 1948, section 25 of the Beedi and Cigar workers(conditions of Employment)Act,1966 and section 46(1)(b) of Mines Act,1952 all these legislation state that the working hours for women is 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 and in the mines act there is one more provision that there is only above the ground work is for them.
Maternity Benefit Act, 1961[i] regulates the employment with paid maternity leave benefit as along with this “The Building and Other Constructions(Regulation of employment and Conditions of Services)Act,1996 provides welfare fund to working women during maternity. Recent amendment in the maternity benefit act increases the time period of paid duration when a women employee was taking maternity leave as per this act as they increases the paid leave duration from 12bweeks to 26 weeks. The facilities of work from home as per their choice is also added in this amendment. And the consent of employee is very important as for the option of work from home. Along with this Crèche facility is provided to women after amendment. The women employee are provided permission to visit the crèche 4 times during a single day as for their benefits and comfort. As per the main objective of this act is to provide healthy life cycle during their maternity period. The new amendment in this bill clearly stated that the employers has to educate about the maternity benefit as per this act to each and every women employee during the time of appointment.
Special leave benefit for 2 days paid leave in a month to women working in private or government during their menstrual days to protect her from infection and better health condition.
Provisions for separate toilets for Women at the working Place as stated in rule 53 of the contract Labour(Regulation and Abolition)Act,1970, section 19 of the Factories Act,1948,Rule 42 of the Inter State Migrant Workmen(RECS) Central Rules,1980, section 20 of the Mines Act, 1952 and section 9 of the Plantation Labour Act, 1952.
Sexual Harassment of women at workplace( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 after 16 years of the landmark case of Vishaka and others v state of Rajasthan, 1997 [ii] in which a public Interest litigation filed by the Ngo of Rajasthan, as a social worker named as Bhanwati Devi was raped as she tried to stop the child marriage and she was brutally raped and the case was filed on the ground that there is a violation of the fundamental rights of as working women as per article 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution and court has given several guidelines and also gives definitions of the term sexual harassment at work place.
The open social order and liberal education have done the ground work. Technically also, the women have become competent. But that is not all. She must be able freely exercise her options which call for more personal qualities as well as support from male class. There are several provision in our Indian Constitution as in article 15(1), 15(3), 16(2), 23(1),39(a)(d)(e),42, 51-A(e),243-D(3)(4), 243-T(3)(4) beside these the court always provide justice to women with great concern and support. We have seen still women victim of gender bias, examples are also plenty where they control their male work force commendably. The parameter of professional success is then the ability to lead well also. Modernity is often mistake with the ability to spend freely and engage in glamorous lifestyle, but that is equally misleading . unreflective use of any freedom is neither in the interest of an individual or the society. The woman of today bears little resemblance to the woman of yester-years. Times have changed and so has she. She is fully aware of her rights and privileges. She demands higher education, emotional and financial independence, an equal share of opportunities in this man’s world and a better status in life. She is no longer shy, meek and submissive as she used to be. She can confidently move about in the world outside home. The modern woman is conscious of her personality. She tries to maintain a beautiful appearance by following the latest fashions in dress and manner. She knows about the happenings in the world around her. She has ability to express her views without any fear, discuss on various issues and impress others by her elegance. She is liberal in her ways. She is desirous of fulfilling her ambitions and be the arbiter of her own fate. The modern woman is conscious of her personality. She tries to maintain a beautiful appearance by following the latest fashions in dress and manner. She knows about the happenings in the world around her. She has the ability to express her views without any fear, discuss on various issues and impress others by her elegance. She is liberal in her ways. She is desirous of fulfilling her ambitions and be the arbiter of her own fate. The western influence cannot be denied but it is not fair to say that all modern women are indifferent to their duties and responsibilities which they are expected to fulfill. By way of overall analysis, it can be said education and employment in the context of women can bring good results only when they exercise it reasonably and judiciously. The liberty of modern social setup should not lead to unhindered behavior. The power of social choices given to her call for equally righteous use. The balance between personal fulfillment and social responsibility must be achieved harmoniously. There are women who have led to the deterioration of moral values and ethical standards of conduct but several women who belong to the enlightened section of womanhood hold respectable position of responsibility. The se women have proved that they are more faithful and hardworking than men. Even if they are employed they take good care of their children and perform their household duties too. Women today have marched from slavery to freedom but their majority, especially in the rural areas still lives within the confinement of their homes. The talk of women’s rights and liberation to them is meaningless. As required of them by the customs and traditions they perform their duties to look after their home and family. They accept their fate as if it is decreed by God. They continue to toil even if they suffer the ill-treatment by the opposite sex. Compared to the women of other countries, the Indian women have a better sense of responsibility and a more secured future. However modern they might have become bearing a materialistic outlook, they have a better image than the women of the west. The Indian woman will always be a symbol of patience and sacrifice.
[I] Rohini Pande, “Getting India’s Women into the Workforce: Time for a Smart Approach”, Ideas for India, International growth Centre (March 10, 2017).
[II]The LFP rate used in this paper is from: Erin K. Fletcher, Rohini Pande, and Charity Troyer Moore, “Women and Work in India: Descriptive Evidence and a Review of Potential Policies,” CID Faculty Working Paper, no. 339 (December 2017): 5.
WRITTEN BY :-ASTHA ARYA & ANKIT SINGH