Feminism in constitution
Our constitution is a set of fundamental ideologies and written codes that itself promotes equality between gender. Equality means that men and women should be treated equally in all the circumstances. Women have struggled a lot for equality and against oppression for centuries, and although some battles were partly won – such as right to vote and equal access to education. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the draftsman of constitution was the feminist before feminism who ensured that women were once deprived with power and were treated unfairly should be treated with same pair of lenses in the post-independence period. In earlier times, women were confined to the home as a daughter, wives and mothers, and we are often only aware of women in history because of their relation to famous men. And of-course many women throughout history played an important role in cultural and political life, but they tend to be invisible not just because that they were not capable, just because the men society was not ready to accept the capabilities and thinking of women. That time was gone when women used to work under men, it’s the high time when people need to accept the changes and need to bring equality in all over India. Many laws and rights were made for the women so that they also get the same opportunities, liberty and equality as same as men have. Now it’s the time of women to make their choices and to know about their rights and abilities to establish their identity. It challenges the dichotomy of the man and woman and states that if men and women are fundamentally different as categories, then a single-yardsticks for measuring justice is wrong.
Where is the problem?
The issue arises during the interpretation process. The Constitution, at its core, has demanded equality, but the interpreters have made it a difficult task. It is true that women are still subject to moral slavery in today’s world. Male dominance, or the patriarchal structure of society, has produced the societal vision and has relegated ‘women’ to the status of subordinate gender. Women’s vulnerability is one of the issues that has yet to see radical change in the age of globalization and liberalization. The eternal truth of constitutional morality is that no country can see full development in the social or economic sectors until the dilemmas of women are addressed and resolved.
How women were viewed and treated in society?
Throughout the medieval period, women were viewed as second class citizens, and their needs were also afterthought. Women were mostly withheld from positions of powers or speaking their voice; males made decision for them and their lives were dictated by men that ran the society. Despite their lack of validation and suppression, however, women in medieval literature were certainly present in many works and various forms. Throughout the medieval period, women’s most important role was that of a mother or a child bearer, whether she was rich or poor, children were her first priority. Women’s role in society was often compared to that which is written in the Bible. Everything that a woman did relate to how it would be better in men’s lives. Women had to show her loyalty to their husbands and families. Poor women needed to bear a lot of children, preferably males, in order to create workforce foe their husband. Medieval literature often represents women in very distinct lights, and most of them are not very becoming. While the light may not always be a good one, there is always a light shining on women, as they are usually central to the story. Everything circles back to the importance of men and women providing men and for men in the society.
How women ought to be viewed and treated in society?
How well a society treat its women is one of the strongest indicators of the success and health of that society. The scenario of women is slowly changing in recent years. We can see slowly and steady rise of women in all the fields of importance. Women of today are not just restricted to cooking and taking care of their household, they have to step out from their comfort zone to create their own image/ identity in outside the world as well. This in short termed as women empowerment. Society now has to changed its mindset and the way it looks at women, due to the progress women has achieved. Men today are more understanding towards the women in their lives, yet we here many cases of harassment against women. Now, women has changed from being a mere homemaker to modern day multitasking women, handling responsibility without any fear. Modern day women are independent, takes right decision boldly, stand up for their rights and walks on the path of success. Women are well-educated, they have crossed horizons and their presence can be felt in male dominated areas also. The government of India set aside some reasonable amount of money, for the women who have business ideas in order to start their business. Women are encouraged to run small business in order to have their own source of income so that there must be no need to depend on others to live life. Various non-government agencies also offer financial support to women in India and encourage and teach them in various business activities. Empowering women is the fundamental right of women. Without women empowerment in India, you won’t be able to determine and understand the intelligence of women. To make use of courage and capacity of the women, they should be empowered with an equal number of opportunities. The target rotates around empowerment of every single girl child so that when they join the level of evolving as an adult, they should be competent souls. Equality between men and women is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace. A transformed partnership based on equality between men and women is a condition for people centered sustainable development, so that men and women can work together for themselves, and for their children and for society to meet the upcoming challenges.
Eight most important rights that women should know
- Right to maintenance: Dependent allowances include basic essentials such as food, housing, clothing, education and medical facilities. A married woman is entitled to get maintenance from her husband after the divorce until remarriage. Family allowances depend on the standard of living of the wife and the circumstances and income of the husband. Article 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 states that if a wife commits adultery, or if she refuses to live with her husband for no good reason, or if the husband leaves by mutual consent both of them lives separately. As mentioned in the section above, Indian women can claim allowances from their husbands, regardless of caste or religion. The Hindu Marriage Act,1955 also allows maintenance, but only for Hindu women. The Islamic Marriage Dissolution Act,1939 applies only to Islamic women.
- Right to equal pay: We have now equal rights for men and women. Both male and female are entitled to pay same for same work. The Equal Remuneration Act provide for the same. It ensures payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature. There will be no discrimination on the basis of sexuality.
- Right to dignity and decency: Dignity and decency are the women’s personal jewel. Anyone who steal and strip its humility will be punished by the law. Every woman has the right to live in freedom, free of fear, coercion, violence and discrimination. Law very well respects women’s dignity and modesty. The criminal law provides for the punishments for offences committed against women like Sexual Harassment (Sec. 354A), assault with intent to disrobe her (Sec. 354B) or to outrage her modesty (Sec. 354), Voyeurism (Sec. 354C), Stalking (354D) etc.
- Right against domestic violence: Every woman is entitled to the right against Domestic Violence with her by virtue of the enactment of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Domestic Violence include not only physical abuse but also mental, sexual and economic abuse. The Indian Penal code also provides protection to such women who are subjected to Domestic violence, under Sec 498A by punishing the husband or his relatives with the imprisonment which may extend to 3 years and fine.
- Rights at workplace: If a person at workplace asks you for sexual harassment, makes sexual comments, sees you, sings obscene songs, touches you inappropriately, all these make up sexual harassment and you are a complaint to an internal complaints committee set up by the employer of any office or branch with 10 or more employees. District officers should also establish a local grievance committee at each district and block level, as needed. Apart from that, the IPC also punishes sexual harassment under 354A with 1-3 years of imprisonment.
- Right against dowry: The Act, defines “Dowry” as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party to the other but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies. If you give, take or abet giving or taking of dowry, then you shall be punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 5 years and minimum fine of Rs. 15,000.
“Say no to dowry, it breeds violence.”
- Right to free legal aid: If you are a suffering woman, you may have free legal advice from a legal service authority granted under the Law Service Authority Act of 1987, regardless of whether you can afford the legal service yourself. You have the right to receive. There are county, state, and national legal service agencies, each formed at the county, state, and national levels. Legal services include assisting courts, courts, or authorities in conducting proceedings or other legal proceedings, and providing advice on legal issues.
- Right of private defence/ self-defence: It is a right of defence. Protecting your body and the bodies of others from attackers can result in injury, serious injury, and even death. However, an attacker can only be held criminally liable in certain situations, such as throwing acid. Then you can kill that person and the law will protect you. And every woman must learn how to protect herself in that situation.
In conclusion women can be powerful actors for peace, security, and prosperity. Women are educated about the social benefits including awareness about the existing social problems in the society, good recognition and image in the family community, plan, promote better education for their children, taking care of health of aged and children. At present most of the women are given a chance of finishing their education to the degree level. They are discouraged from getting married and raising a family when they are young. There are numbers of women education grants from the government that offer help to the women from poor background in order to give them a chance to be educated. The women who have desire improve their lives are allowed to take grants from the government and NGO’s to empower themselves with higher education.
It is the high time for women to show their abilities and built power around themselves, to take their own decisions. Today, women has so much power to take the stand for herself and say no to anything which does not make her feel comfortable. It is all about the women empowerment, equality and liberty which makes the women to make her own identity and show her abilities and follow the path of success which is result in the development for the country. Women should know her worth and must aware of the fundamental rights that are made for her. And I know that time is not so far where we find both men and women equal in every field.
It’s time for you to let yourself fully embody the brave, strong, resilient, wise woman you have become.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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