Gender equality, also known as sex equality, sexual equality or equality of the genders, refers to the view that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against based on gender, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment. This is the objective of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which seeks to create equality in law and in social situations, such as in democratic activities and securing equal pay for equal work. Lord Denning in his book Due Process of Law has observed that a woman feels as keenly thinks as clearly, as a man. She in her sphere does work as useful as man does in his. She has as much right to her freedom – develop her personality to the full as a man. When she marries, she does not become the husband’s servant but his equal partner. If his work is more important in life of the community, her’s is more important in the life of the family. Neither can do without the other. Neither is above the other or under the other. They are equals.
Fight for the rights of women may be difficult to trace in history but it can be stated with certitude that there were lone and vocal voices at many a time raising battles for the rights of women and claiming equal treatment. Initially, in the West, it was a fight to get the right to vote and the debate was absolutely ineffective and, in a way, sterile. In 1792, in England, Mary Wollstonecraft in “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” advanced a spirited plea for claiming equality for, “the Oppressed half the Species”. In 1869, “In Subjection of Women” John Stuart Mill stated, “the subordination of one sex to the other ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other”. On March 18, 1869 Susan B. Anthony proclaimed “Join the union girls, and together say, “Equal pay, for Equal work”. The same personality again spoke in July 1871 : “Women must not depend
upon the protection of man but must be taught to protect themselves”.
In India, it is believed that women enjoyed an equal status as men in the Vedic Period. The education of women held considerable significance, especially from works of katayana and patanjali. The Upanishadas and the Vedas have cited women sages and seers. But the condition declined considerably afterwards. Historical practices such as Sati, Jauhar, Purdah and Devdasis, child marriage, are a few traditions reflective of the gender imbalance in Indian Society. Though these practices are largely defunct now, due to legal reform, the essence of the dysfunctional gender equity still is rampant and manifested today through domestic violence, trafficking, dowry deaths, female infanticide, female foeticide, sexual objectification and violence and sexual harassment at work place. The struggle for equal rights, freedom and justice has been made by human rights activists, feminists, NGO’s and through Government support. Even though considerable progress has been made in this regard, women are still lagging behind. With globalisation, there are other complex issues that women face today along with the elementary issues that have always plagued women. Consumerism and cultural heterogeneity has brought in its fold more objectification of women. Apart from these issues, there are still many cultures in the world where the condition of women is still deplorable, they still have no control or right over themselves or their bodies or their children. The condition is worse in Africa and the Middle East.
DEFINITION OF GENDER EQUALITY
It refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development.
Law reform or legal reform is the process of examining existing laws, and advocating and implementing changes in a legal system, usually with the aim of enhancing justice or efficiency. Law is never static. It is a logical, self contained, autonomous, and changing system. It changes according to social needs. It undergoes changes due to socio economic pressures and customs
GENDER EQUALITY – PROTECTION UNDER INDIAN CONSTITUTION.
The Preamble of our Constitution is “a key to open the mind of the makers of the Constitution which may show the general purpose for which they make the Constitution. It declares the rights and freedoms which the people of India intended to secure to all citizens. The Preamble begins with the words “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA……” which includes men and women of all castes, religions, etc. It wishes to render “EQUALITY of status and or opportunity” to every man and woman. The Preamble again assures “dignity of individuals” which includes the dignity of women. On the basis of the Preamble, several important enactments have been brought into operation, pertaining to every walk of life family, succession, guardianship and employment which aim at providing the protecting the status, rights and dignity of women. Our compassionate Constitution, the Fountain Head of all laws, is gender sensitive.
The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio economic, education and political disadvantages faced by them. It is apt to refer to certain constitutional provisions
which are significant in this regard:
(i) Equality before law (Article 14)
(ii) The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race caste, sex,
place of birth or any of them (Article 15(i))
(iii) The State to make any special provision in favour of women and children (Article 15(3))
(iv) The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood (Article 39(a)); and equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39(d))
(v) The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 42)
(vi) 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 (Article 46)
(vii) 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 (Article 51(A)(e))
(viii) 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 (Article 243 D(3))
(ix) Not less than one-third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level to be reserved for women (Article 243 D(4))
(x) Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the 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 (Article 243 T(3))
(xi) Reservation of offices of Chairpersons in Municipalities for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may by law provide (Article 243 T(4)).
Reservation under Articles 243 D (3), D (4), T (3) and T (4) are meant to empower the woman politically. Some Articles play a major role in the field of women empowerment. Article 15(3) empowers the State to make special provisions for them. The well-being of a woman is an object of public interest and it is to be achieved to preserve the strength and vigour of the race. This provision has enabled the State to make special statutory provisions exclusively for the welfare of women.
Article 39(a), requires the State to direct its policy towards securing that the citizens, men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood. Under Article 39(d), the State shall direct its policy towards securing equal pay for equal work for both men and women. This Article draws its support from Article 14 and 16 and its main objective is the building of a welfare society and an equalitarian social order in the Indian Union. To give effect to this Article, the Parliament has enacted the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 which provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers and prevents discrimination on the ground of sex. Further, Article 39(e) is aimed at protecting the health and strength of workers, both men and women. A very important and useful provision for women’s welfare and well-being is incorporated under Article 42 of the Constitution. It imposes an obligation upon the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. Some of the legislations which promoted the objectives of this Article are the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the like. Presently to summarize the precedents and observations which have came from the constitutional philosophy. In Valsamma Paul1, it has been ruled that human rights for women comprehends gender equality and it is also traceable to the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Human rights for women, including girl child are inalienable, integral and an indivisible part of universal human rights. The full development of personality, fundamental freedoms and equal participation by women in political, social, economic and cultural life are held to be concomitants for national development, social and family stability and growth cultural, social and economical. All forms of discrimination on grounds of gender are violative of fundamental freedoms and human rights. Conferment of equal status on women apart from being a constitutional right has been recognized as a human right. In Bodhisattwa Gautam2, the Court observed that women have the right to be respected and treated as equal citizens. Accentuating on the concept, it proceeded to state thus: “. …Their honour and dignity cannot be touched or violated. They also have the right to lead an honourable and peaceful life. Women, in them, have many personalities combined. They are mother, daughter, sister and wife and not playthings for centre spreads in various magazines, periodicals or newspapers nor can they be exploited for obscene purposes. They must have the liberty, the freedom and, of course, independence to live the roles assigned to them by nature so that the society may flourish as they alone have the talents and capacity to shape the destiny and character of men anywhere and in every part of the world.”
In Kharak Singh3, the Court has recognized that a person has complete rights of control over his body organs and his ‘person’ under Article 21. It can also said to be including the complete right of a woman over her reproductive organs. In Chandrima Das4, – it was case of gang-rape of a Bangladeshi national by the employees of the Indian Railway in a room at Yatriniwas at Howrah Station. These employees managed the Yatriniwas, the Government contended that it could not be held liable under the law of torts as the offence was not
1 (1996) 3 SCC 545: 1996 SCC (L&S) 772. 2 (1996) 1 SCC 490 3 AIR 1963 SC 1295 4 (2000) 2 SCC 465
committed during the course of official duty. However, the Court did not accept this argument and stated that the employees of Union of India, who are deputed to run the railways and to manage the establishment, including the Railway Stations and Yatrinivas are essential components of the government machinery which carries on the commercial activity. If any such employee commits an act of tort, the Union Government of which they are the employees can, subject to other legal requirement being satisfied be held vicariously liable in damages to the person wronged by those employees. The victim was awarded by the Court with a compensation of Rs.10 lakhs for being gang raped in Yatrinivas of Railways. Since the right is available to non-citizens also, the reach of the right is very wide. In Vishakha Case, the Court took a serious note of the increasing menace of sexual harassment at workplace and elsewhere. Considering the inadequacy of legislation on the point, the Court defined sexual harassment and laid down instruction for the employers and thereafter the Court observed as under : “Each incident of sexual harassment of woman at workplace results in violation of fundamental rights of “Gender Equality” and the “Right to Life and Liberty”.
RESERVATIONS TO WOMEN IN THE LOCAL BODIES
The Parliament has succeeded in its efforts to provide for reservation of seats for women in elections to the Panchayat and the Municipalities. Reservation of seats for women in Panchayats and Municipalities have been provided in Article 243D and 243T of the Constitution of India. Parts IX and IXA have been added to the Constitution by the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts with Articles 243, 243A to 243D and Articles 243P to 243ZG. According to 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 up by direct election in every Panchayat, shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat. Article 243T(3) of the Constitution provides similar provisions for reservation of seats for women in direct election in the government. There are also provisions in the State enactment, by virtue of the constitutional mandate, to reserve the office of Chairperson and the Presidents in certain Municipal Corporations and Municipalities, Zila Panchayats and Janpad Panchayats for women. It is noteworthy to state here that under the Consumer Protection Act, there is a provision that one of the members shall be a woman and under the Family Court Act, preference is given to women for appointment. Sometimes question arises as to what extent equality is to be extended. The people who put this elementary question forget or deliberately do so that all men are born equal; and the division of bifurcation by the society between man and woman is the craftsmanship of male chauvinism. It has to be borne in mind that in the absence of equality of gender, human rights remain in an inaccessible realm. In most of the nations women are ascribed a secondary role. The secondary role has to be metamorphosed to the primary one to bring woman at the equal stratum. To achieve so, a different outlook in law has to be perceived. The perceptual shift is absolutely essential, in a way mandatory. For this reason, various provisions have been engrafted in the Constitution to confer some special and equal rights on women. Presently, it is essential to sit in a time machine and penetrate to the past. In T. Sudhakar Reddy21, the petitioner challenged the validity of Section 31(1)(a) of the Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Societies Rules, 1964. These provisions provide for nomination of two women members by the Registrar to the Managing Committee of the Cooperative Societies, with a right to vote and to take part in the meetings of the committee. These provisions were upheld in the interest of women’s participation in cooperative societies and opined that it will be in the interest of the economic development of the country.
20 AIR 1987 SC 1281 21 1993 Supp. (4) SCC 439
In P.B. Vijaya Kumar22, the legislation made by the State of Andhra Pradesh providing 30% reservation of seats for women in local bodies and in educational institutions was held valid by the Court and the power conferred upon the State under Article 15(3) is so wide which would cover the powers to make the special legal provisions for women in respect of employment or education. This exclusive power is an integral part of Article 15(3) and thereby, does not override Article 16 of the Constitution. In Rakesh Kumar Gupta23, the Court while concurring with the view taken by the High Court of Allahabad in respect of reservation of 50% passed in favour of female candidate has opined thus: – “14. The Division Bench took the view that Article 15(3) of the Constitutional enables the State Government to make special provision for women and children notwithstanding the prohibition contained in Article 15(1). Particularly viewed in the background of the fact that a large number of young girls below the age of 10 years were taught in the primary school and recognizing that it would be preferable that such young girls are
taught by women, the reservation of 50% of the posts in favour of the female candidates was held to be justified. The classification made was justified and cannot be styled as arbitrary or liable to be hit by the Article 14.” In the State of Madhya Pradesh an amendment was brought into force in the M.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1956 and the M.P. Municipalities Act, 1962 22 AIR 1995 SC 1648 23 AIR 2005 SC 2540
by enhancing the reservation in favour of women from 30% to 50% in municipal corporation and municipalities. The constitutional validity of the amended provisions was challenged on the backdrop of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. In Ashok Kumar Malpani24 the High Court, after adverting to the concept of reservation and the decisions relating to reservation in various fields, upheld the constitutional validity. In that context, the Bench observed:- “The legislation, in our considered opinion, is a real deep inroad into encouraging the participation of women in the decision making process at the ground level of democracy. Women in India are required to participate more in a democratic set-up especially in the ground democratic polity. Not for nothing, it has been said “educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educate a family”. The colossal complaint made by the learned counsel for the petitioners that if women come into the arena of the decision making process, it will be amthema to the administrative set-up as the bureaucrats shall take over the administration in view of the inadequacies of women, in our considered opinion, is a premature thinking based on a priori notions and beyond the scope of constitutional tolerance. Democracy is a basic feature of our Constitution and it has to develop from the ground reality level. The participation of socially and educationally backward classes and women could really nurture and foster democracy in the country. Be it noted, though the issue of gender justice has been gaining ground in many nations and in many an area for some centuries and the traditional view of gender injustice has been given quite a quietus and treated as an event of bygone days, yet the malady still remains and deserved to be remedied. It would not be inappropriate to state here that if the dynamics of women reservation are understood in proper perspective, it would be quite clear that the number
of women representatives at various layers of democratic setup is really quite low.
It would not be inapposite to state that women have entered into the Indian Panchayat Raj Institutions by virtue of the Constitutional Amendment but their active participation in the decision making process in actuality remains at abysmal level. It is because their interest in the democratic setup of election has still not been accentuated for the simon pure reason that they have to negotiate and wrestle with the powerful members of the society. The submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that women are contesting in the election is of utmost significance and that would irrefragably exposit that they are conscious and there is no justification to marginalise the equality clause. We are of the view that participation in the election and losing the same can never be equated with the decision making process.
24 2009 (IV) MPJR 179 = AIR 2010 MP 64
One can only be a party to the decision making process when one is on the floor of the House as a representative and that is how the recognition of decision making process can be conferred on women. As the affidavit filed by the State would show their success in the election process is extremely low, we are disposed to think, the reservation, an act of special affirmation and a protective discrimination is a warrant which has been done by the State Legislature in its wisdom. Therefore, the submission that such reservation is not necessary and, in fact, does tantamount to reverse reservation do not deserve acceptance. It cannot be totally ostracised from the compartment of equality that unless law assists women in an accentuated manner, the basic tenet of the concept of equality would not be achieved and women will be put in the category of non-achievers. In a democracy where Rule of Law governs, the democractic polity it can only be
advanced in a cultivated society. It is absolutely imperative to have the help of women where they are given certain rights. The truth is self-evident and that is how the fathers of the Constitution had perceived it. The High Court eventually ruled that Article 243T does not put a ceiling by using the terms ‘not less than 1/3rd’. In fact, it prescribes for the minimum reservation but does not create any kind of impediment on the part of the State Legislature to enhance the percentage of reservation for women and that the stand of the petitioners to the effect that if the reservation of seats for women upto 50% is sustained, it will usher in bad governance as the bureaucratic setup would take up the entire policy making decision is totally baseless and, in fact, is absolutely premature. In Sanskrit it is stated that;-
“Bhartr bhratr pitrijnati swasruswasuradevaraiah Bandhubhisca striyah pujyah bhusnachhadanasnaih”
“The women are to be respected equally on par with husbands, brothers, fathers, relatives, in-laws and other kith and kin and while respecting, the women gifts like ornaments, garments, etc. should be given as token of honour.
GENDER EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IN EMPLOYMENTS
Economic empowerment is a necessary fulcrum of empowerment. The Constitutional Courts in many an authority have laid emphasis on said conception and interpreted the provisions to elevate the status of women and to empower them. In Thota Manikayamma6 the Court, while interpreting Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 converting the women’s limited ownership of property into full ownership, has observed as follows:
5 AIR 1997 SC 301 6 (1991) 4 SCC 312
”……. Article 15(3) relieves from the rigour of Article 15(1) and charges the State to make special provision to accord to women socio-economic quality…….. It would mean that the court would endeavour to give full effect to legislative and constitutional vision of socio-economic equality to female citizen by granting full ownership or property to a Hindu female. As a fact Article 15(3) as a forerunner to common code does animate to make law to accord socio-economic equality to every female citizen of India irrespective of religion, race, caste or religion.” When the matter relating to mother as natural guardian was questioned, the Court held that relegation of mother to inferior position to act as a natural guardian is violation of Articles 14 and 15 and hence, the father cannot claim that he is the only natural guardian. The guardianship right of women has undergone a sea change by this interpretation given by the Court in Gita Hariharan.7
In Gayatri Devi Pansari8 the Court has also upheld an Orissa Government Order reserving 30% quota for women in the allotment of 24 hours medical stores as part of self-employment scheme. Thus, the language of Article 15 (3) is in absolute terms and does not appear to restrict in any way the nature or ambit of special provisions which the State may make in favour of women or children. In this context it is useful to refer to the decision rendered in the case of Sellammal9, wherein the Court held that the Hindu Marriage Act will override the U.P. Jamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act and also held that exclusive right to male succession may be suspended till female dependent adopt another mode of livelihood. Many a time question arises with regard to rights of women qua property. Various High Courts have interpreted Section 27 of the Hindu Marriage Act in a different manner. As far as the High Court of Madhya Pradesh is concerned the Court in the case of Ashok Kumar Chopra10, held that ‘Stridhan’ is the property of the wife in her individual capacity and the husband is merely trustee of that property and the husband is liable to return that property and value thereof under the substantive law and in equity. The power has been conferred by the M.P. High Court on the matrimonial courts in respect of certain properties. In this regard it is necessary to refer that Hindu women who were not entitled to right to property have been given equal share along with male heir and they have presently been given equal rights. The concept of equality is the bedrock of gender justice. In the case of Neera Mathur11, a female candidate was required to furnish information about her menstrual period, last date of menstruation, pregnancy and miscarriage. When the matter came before the Court, their Lordships held that such declarations were improper.
8 AIR 2000 SC 1531 : (2000) 4 SCC 221 9 AIR 1977 SC 1265 10 AIR 1996 MP 226 11 AIR 1992 SC 392
The Court directed that the Corporation would do well to delete such column in the declaration. In the case of Gayatri Devi Pansari12, the Court, while setting aside the decision of the High Court, ruled thus: “Otherwise, by the mere fact of any lapse or omission on the part of the ministerial officers to identify a shop, the legitimate claims of a lady applicant could not be allowed to suffer defeating the very purpose and object of reservation itself. The view taken by the High Court has the consequence of overriding and defeating the laudable object and aim of the State Government in formulating and providing welfare measures for the rehabilitation of women by making them self-reliant by extending to them employment opportunities. Consequently, we are of the view that the High Court below ought not to have interfered with the selection of appellant for running the 24 hours’ medical store in question.” In Miss C.B. Muthamma, IFS13 the constitutional validity of Rule 8(2) of the Indian Foreign Service (Conduct and Discipline) Rules, 1961 and Rule 18(4) of the Indian Foreign Service (Recruitment, Cadre, Seniority and Promotion) Rules, 1961 was challenged before the Court. The impugned provision Rule 8(2) requires a woman member of the service to obtain permission of the Government in writing before her marriage is solemnized and at any time after the marriage, a woman member of the service may be required to resign from the service, if the Government is satisfied that her family and domestic commitments are likely to come in the way of the due and efficient discharge of her duties as a member of the service. Further, Rule 18(4) also runs in the same prejudicial strain, which provides that no married woman shall be entitled as a right to be appointed to the service. The petitioner complained that under the guise of these rules, she had been harassed and was shown hostile discrimination by the Chairman, UPSC from the joining stage to the stage of promotion. The Court held that these Rules are in defiance of Articles 14, 16 and 21. In Maya Devi14, the requirement that a married woman should obtain her husband’s consent before applying for public employment was held invalid and unconstitutional. The Court observed that such a requirement is an anachronistic obstacle to women’s equality.
At this juncture, it is noteworthy that in Associate Banks Officers Association15, wherein the Court held that women workers are in no way inferior to their male counterparts, and hence, there should be no discrimination on the ground of sex against women. In Yeshaswinee Merchant16, the Court has held that the twin Articles 15 and 16 prohibit a discriminatory treatment but not preferential or special treatment of women, which is a positive measure in their favour. 12 (2000) 4 SCC 221 13 AIR 1979 SC 1858 : (1979) 4 SCC 260 14 (1986) 1 SCR 743
15 AIR 1998 SC 32 16 (2003) 6 SCC 277
The Constitution does not prohibit the employer to consider sex while making the employment decisions where this is done pursuant to a properly or legally chartered affirmative action plan.
The Court in Vijay Lakshmi17, has observed that Rules 5 and 8 of the Punjab University Calender, Vol. III providing for appointment of a lady principal in a women’s or a lady teacher therein cannot be held to be violative of either Article 14 or Article 16 of the Constitution, because the classification is reasonable and it has a nexus with the object sought to be achieved. In addition, the State Government is empowered to make such special provisions under Article 15(3) of the Constitution. This power is not restricted in any manner by Article 16.
In Municipal Corporation of Delhi18, the Court held that the benefits under the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, extend to employees of the Municipal Corporation who are casual workers or workers employed on daily wage basis. Upholding the claim of non-regularised female workers for maternity relief, the Court has stated: “Since Article 42 specifically speaks of ‘just and human conditions of work’ and ‘maternity’ relief, the validity of an executive or administrative action in denying maternity benefit has to be examined on the anvil of Article 42 which, though not enforceable at law, is nevertheless available for determining the legal afficacy of the action complained of.” In Nargesh Meerza19 the Air India and Indian Airlines Regulations were challenged as violative of Article 14. Regulation 46 provided that an air hostess was to retire from service upon attaining the age of 35 years or on marriage if it took place within four years of her joining service or on first pregnancy, whichever occurred earlier. Regulation 47 empowered the Managing Director, at a time beyond the age of retirement, upto the age of 45 years, if an air hostess was found medically fit. The Court struck down the Regulation providing for retirement of the air hostess on her first pregnancy, as unconstitutional, void and violative of Article 14. The Court explained that the Regulation did not prohibit marriage after four years of joining service and if an air hostess after having fulfilled the first condition became pregnant, there was no reason why pregnancy should stand in the way of her continuing in service. After utilizing her service for four years, to terminate her service if she became pregnant, court said, amounted to compelling the poor air hostess, not to have any children. If thus amounted to interfere with and divert the ordinary course of human nature. It was held not only a callous and cruel act but an open insult to Indian womanhood. Court also said that it was not only manifestly unreasonable and arbitrary but contained the equality of unfairness and exhibited naked despotism and was, therefore, clearly violative of Article 14.
17 AIR 2003 SC 3331 18 AIR 2000 SC 1274 19 AIR 1981 SC 1829
M/s Mackunnon Mechenize and co.20, – the question involved in the said case was getting of equal pay for equal work. In the said context the Court ruled that when lady stenographers and male stenographers were not getting equal remuneration that was discriminatory and any settlement in that regard did not save the situation. The Court also expressed the view that discrimination between male stenographers and lady stenographers was only on the ground of sex and that being not permissible the employer was bound to pay the same remuneration to both of them when they were doing practically the same kind of work.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND TREATIES FOR GENDER EQUALITY
The Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979, is the United Nations’ landmark treaty marking the struggle for women’s right. It is regarded as the Bill of Rights for women. It graphically puts what constitutes discrimination against women and spells out tools so that women’s rights are not violated and they are conferred the same rights. The equality principles were reaffirmed in the Second World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in June 1993 and in the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. India was a party to this Convention and other Declarations and is committed to actualize them. In 1993 Conference, gender-based violence and all categories of sexual harassment and exploitation were condemned. A part of the Resolution reads thus: – “The human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex are priority objectives of the international community… The World Conference on Human Rights urges governments, institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to intensify their efforts for the protection of human rights of women and the girl child.” The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) is a comprehensive statement of international standards with regard to the protection of women from violence. The Declaration sets out the international norms which States have recognized as being fundamental in the struggle to eliminate all forms of violence against women. The other relevant International Instruments on Women are: (i) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), (ii) Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952), (iii) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), (iv) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), (v) Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1967), 20 AIR 1982 SC 1839
(vi) Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict (1974), (vii) Inter-American Convention for the Prevention, Punishment and Elimination of Violence against Women (1995), (viii) Universal Declaration on Democracy (1997), and (ix) Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1999).
There are several legal reforms took place in India for providing a voice to the voiceless. Many international recognized NGOs and institutions play a vital role to provide gender equality among the people. The conventions and international treaties provide for the gender equality and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women prevailing in the society. India gives much important for protecting fundamental human rights among men and women. Even though, there has been progress in securing gender equality, there is still a lot to be done.
By- *KATTA ASHOK KUMAR &
**Dr.Ch.BALA NAGESWARA RAO