“Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.”
Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation.
Today, Indian women get a lot of opportunities, for instance, they have a voice in everyday life, the business world as well as in political life. However it cannot be neglected that India is a male dominant country where women are considered inferior to men, this ill thinking has cost women a lot over the centuries. Even though most of the women contribute in the Indian economy in one way or other, their work remains unacknowledged. The concept of Equality requires equity. The historical background of social improvement is also the historical backdrop of inequality; inequality between countries, religions, ethnicity, class, standing, race and sexuality. In almost all of the cultures and traditions across the world, it is clear that male has been the dominant class for receiving, interpreting and transmitting the divine messages while women were the passive receivers of the divine teachings. In India, where religion is used for the polarization of votes and manipulation of masses, women bear the consequences impact of religion and politics. The core which emerged from the framework of patriarchy was violence against women and sexuality and the politics of gender.
But some progress has been made over the years in improving the situation of women in India, more and more women are taking part in public, professional and political life, resulting in good numbers of female professors, doctors, and businesswomen. However, despite the continuous efforts of social activists and policymakers gender equality still remains a pipe dream. India was ranked 108th out of 149 countries on the gender gap index by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2018. Whereas India showed a promising result in terms of wage equality for similar work indicator as it stood on the 72nd rank but in the economic opportunity and participation sub-index, it slipped to 142nd. This contradiction can be understood by understanding the difference between unequal pay and the gender pay gap. Unequal pay refers to situations where women are paid less in comparison to men for the same work whereas Gender pay gap is a measure of in the overall earnings of men and women. It is calculated by applying several parameters considering the total number of employed members of both genders. This does not include women who have taken a sabbatical or have deliberately left the work. This grows from the difference in the number of men and women working and also arises from the differences in work tenures and the need for sabbaticals.
The situation of Women in India
The situation of women in India has been subjected to many changes throughout the centuries. In the Ancient period, their societal value deteriorated drastically, which can also be felt at present times. Malpractices such as female infanticides, dowry, child marriage etc. have prevailed from a long time and are almost impossible to root out from the mindset of orthodox people. As of 2020, where we can now see some changes in the society regarding the equal rights of women, however, it is correct to say that many women in India still continue to face significant difficulties such as the malnutrition rates are high in teenage girls, pregnant and lactating women. Violence against women, especially sexual violence, is seen as a common issue in society. The situation of women in different areas in India:
Education: Female literacy rate is lower than that of men, the percentage of girls enrolling for school is far less than the percentage of boys, and however the situation is improving rapidly. India is ranked 105 amongst 128 countries in its Education for All Development Index; the female literacy stands at 65.46% compared to 82.14% of males as per India’s last census in 2011.
Women in the labour force: Engagement of women in force is quite low and has been falling over the last few years, the ratio of female to male is 0.36 which is worse and is because of the patriarchy and unpaid work care.
Gender wage gap: The wage gap between men and women in India is the worst, a report by International Confederation of Charitable Organizations states that Indian men earn 25% more than women for the same kind of work and the average gender gap is 38.2%.
Violence against women: Domestic violence in India is high and is acceptable by society in the sake of cultural and religious reasons. According to The National Crime Records Bureau, a crime is committed against women in every 3 minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative occurs every nine minutes.
It is not wrong to say that the struggle for patriotism changed the scene of women’s privileges through the pre and post-colonial era. Post-colonial India has sown the seeds for reaching development goals, for example, globalization, neo-liberal policies and the technological developments. This change widened the participation of women in different sectors and helped in nurturing new ideas. Ideas that question the very idea of laws i.e. have our legitimate framework kept up with social change? Social Change by the help of law depends on three structures firstly, the governing bodies which sanction law; secondly, the courts which interpret the laws; and thirdly the enforcement agencies which enforce the laws. Women can be a strong player for peace, security, and prosperity. They have an important role in society making, initiating and inspiring progress on human rights, justice, national reconciliation and economic revival. Making efforts towards investing in women’s leadership is smart security as well as secure development.