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Published : January 15, 2016 | Author : aniketsml
Category : Woman Issues | Total Views : 3340 | Rating :

B.A.L.L.B L.L.M Himachal Pradesh University

In spite of women contribution in all spheres of life and they enjoy a unique position in every society and country of the world, but they suffer in silence and belong to a class which is in a disadvantaged position on account of several barriers and impediments. India, being a country of paradoxes, is no exception. Here too, women, a personification of Shakti, once given a dignified status, are in need of empowerment. Women’s empowerment in legal, social, political and economic requires to be enhanced. However, empowerment and equality are based on the gender sensitivity of society towards their problems. The intensification of women's issues and rights movement all over the world is reflected in the form of various Conventions passed by the United Nations. The India polity more or less has a always tried to cope with the contemporary need – based development of laws for the specified purposes. It may be in the field of Human Rights, Politics, Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights or Social Transfer. Constitution is not to be construed as a mere law, but as the machinery by which laws are made. The Constitution is a living and organic thing which, of all instruments has the greatest claim to be constructed broadly and liberally.

Women empowerment is empowering the women to take their own decisions for their personal dependent. Empowering women is to make them independent in all aspects from mind, thought, rights, decisions, etc. by leaving all the social and family limitations. It is to bring equality in the society for both male and female in all areas. Women empowerment is very necessary to make the bright future of the family, society and country.

The most famous saying said by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is “To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves”. In India, to empower the women, first it needs to kill all the demons killing women’s rights and values in the society such as dowry system, illiteracy, sexual harassment, inequality, female infanticide and domestic violence against women, rape, prostitution, illegal trafficking and other issues. Gender discrimination in the nation brings cultural, social, economic and educational differences which push country back. The most effective remedy to kill such devils is making women empowered by ensuring the Right to Equality mentioned in the Constitution of India.

According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is a legal point to grant equality to women in the society in all spheres just like male. The Department of Women and Child Development functions well in this field for the proper development of the women and child in India. Women are given a top place in India from the ancient time however they were not given empowerment to participate in all areas. They need to be strong, aware and alert every moment for their growth and development. Empowering women is the main motto of the development department because an empowered mother with child makes the bright future of any nation.

India is a very famous country known for its cultural heritage, traditions, civilisation, religion and geographical features from the ancient time. On the other hand, it is also popular as a male chauvinistic nation. Women are given first priority in India however on the other hand they were badly treated in the family and society. They were limited only for the household chores or understand the responsibility of home and family members. They were kept totally unaware of their rights and own development. People of India used to say this country as “Bharat-Mata” however never realised the true meaning of it. Bharat-Mata means a mother of every Indian whom we have to save and care always.

Empowerment can be viewed as means of creating a social environment in which one can make decisions and make choices either individually or collectively for social transformation. It strengthens the innate ability by way of acquiring knowledge, power and experience (Hashemi Schuler and Riley, 1996). Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing individual to think, take action and control work in an autonomous way. It is the process by which one can gain control over one’s destiny and the circumstances of ones lives. Empowerment includes control over resources (physical, human, intellectual and financial) and over ideology (beliefs, values and attitudes). It is not merely a feel of greater extrinsic control, but also grows intrinsic capacity, greater self-confidence and an internal transformation of one’s consciousness that enables one to overcome external barriers to accessing resources or changing traditional ideology (Pinto, 2001). Women’s empowerment is very essential for the development of society. Empowerment means individuals acquiring the power to think and act freely, exercises choice and full fill their potential as full and equal members of society. As per the United National Development Fund for women (UNIFEM), the term women’s empowerment means:

· Acquiring knowledge and understanding of gender relations and the ways in which these relations may be changed.

· Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one’s ability to secure desired changes and the right to control one’s life.

· Gaining the ability to generate choices exercise bargaining power.

· Developing the ability to organize and influence the direction of social change, to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.

Thus, empowerment means a psychological sense of personal control or influence and a concern with actual social influence, political power and legal rights. It is a multi-level construct referring to individuals, organizations and community. It is an international, ongoing process cantered in the local community, involving mutual respect, critical reflection, caring and group participation, through which people lacking an equal share of valued resources gain greater access to the control over these resources.

Historical Background:
India is a famous country proving the common proverb like ‘unity is diversity’, where people of many religious beliefs are in the Indian society. Women have been given a special place in every religion which is working as a big curtain covering the eyes of people and help in the continuation of many ill practices (including physical and mental) against women as a norm since ages. In the ancient Indian society, there was a custom of sati pratha, nagar vadhu system, dowry system, sexual violence, domestic violence, female infanticide, parda pratha, wife burning, sexual harassment at work place, child marriage, child labour, devadashi pratha, etc. including other discriminatory practices. All such type of ill practices is because of male superiority complex and patriarchal system of the society.

Socio-political rights (right to work, right to education, right to decide for themselves, etc.) for the women were completely restricted by the male members of family. Some of the ill practices against women have been eliminated by the open minded and great Indian people who raise their voices for the discriminatory practices against women. Through the continuous efforts of the Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Britishers were forced to eliminate the ill practice of Sati paratha. Later, other famous social reformers of the India (Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Swami Vivekananda, etc.) also had raised their voices and worked hard for the upliftment of women in Indian society.

European scholars observed in the 18th century that Hindu women are "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women.[26] During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Jyotirao Phule fought for the betterment of women. Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, Calcutta and a member of "Young Bengal", set up the first free school for girls in India in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of Calcutta (later the school was named Kalikrishna Girls' High School). In 1917, the first women's delegation met the Secretary of State to demand women's political rights, supported by the Indian National Congress. The All India Women's Education Conference was held in Pune in 1927, it became a major organisation in the movement for social change. In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl.] Though Mahatma Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he later urged people to boycott child marriages and called upon young men to marry child widows.

Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some famous freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani andKasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy and Durgabai Deshmukh. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army consisted entirely of women, including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Constitutional Provision
The Preamble contains the essence of the Constitution and reflects the ideals and aims of the people. The Preamble starts by saying that we, the people of India, give to ourselves the Constitution. The source of the Constitution is thus traced to the people, i.e. men and women of India, irrespective of caste, community, religion or sex. The makers of the Constitution were not satisfied with mere territorial unity and integrity. If the unity is to be lasting, it should be based on social, economic and political justice. Such justice should be equal for all. The Preamble contains the goal of equality of status and opportunity to all citizens. This particular goal has been incorporated to give equal rights to women and men in terms of status as well as opportunity.

Even though the fact that women participated equally in the freedom struggle and, under the Constitution and law, have equal political rights as men, enabling them to take part effectively in the administration of the country has had little effect as they are negligibly represented in politics. There were only seven women members in the Constituent Assembly and the number later decreased further. Their representation in the Lok Sabha is far below the expected numbers. This has led to the demand for reservation of 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas. Political empowerment of women has been brought by the 73rd and 74th Amendments4'2 which reserve seats for women in Gram Panchayats and Municipal bodies. Illiteracy, lack of political awareness, physical violence and economic dependence are a few reasons which restrain women from taking part in the political processes of the country.

At hand there has been series of legislation conferring equal rights for women and men. These legislations have been guided by the provisions of the fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. Here again there is a total lack of awareness regarding economic rights amongst women. Laws to improve their condition in matters relating to wages, maternity benefits, equal remuneration and property/succession have been enacted to provide the necessary protection in these areas.

For providing social justice to women, the most important step has been codification of some of the personal laws in our country which pose the biggest challenge in this context. In the area of criminal justice, the gender neutrality of law worked to the disadvantage of a woman accused because in some of the cases it imposed a heavy burden on the prosecutor, for e.g. in cases of rape and dowry. Certain areas like domestic violence and sexual harassment of women at the workplace were untouched, unthought of. These examples of gender insensitivity were tackled by the judiciary and incorporated into binding decisional laws to provide social justice in void spheres.

Although a Uniform Civil Code is still a dream in spite of various directions of the Court, the enactment of certain legislations like the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention of Misuse) Act and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act prevent the violation of justice and humanity right from the womb. In spite of these laws, their non-implementation, gender insensitivity and lack of legal literacy prevent the dream of the Constitution makers from becoming a reality. They prevent the fulfillment of the objective of securing to each individual dignity, irrespective of sex, community or place of birth.

Part III of the Constitution consisting of Articles 12-35 is the heart of the Constitution. Human Rights which are the entitlement of every man, woman and child because they are human beings have been made enforceable as constitutional or fundamental rights in India. The framers of the Constitution were conscious of the unequal treatment and discrimination meted out to the fairer sex from time immemorial and therefore included certain general as well as specific provisions for the upliftment of the status of women.

Justice Bhagwati in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (AIR 1978 SC 597)4'3 said:

”These fundamental rights represent the basic values cherished by the people of this

country since the Vedic times and they are calculated to protect the dignity of the individual and create conditions in which every human being can develop his personality to the fullest extent. ”

Article 14 guarantees that the State shall not deny equality before the law and equal protection of the laws;

Article: 14 Equality before Law

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the ground of sex: and Article 15 (3) empowers the state to make positive discrimination in favour of women and child;

Article: 15 Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, cast, sex, or place of birth

(1) The state shall not discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, cast, sex, or place of birth or any of them.

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.

Accordingly Article 15(1) prohibits gender discrimination and Article 15(3) lifts that rigour and permits the State to positively discriminate in favour of women to make special provisions to ameliorate their social condition and provide political, economic and social justice. The State in the field of Criminal Law, Service Law, Labour Law, etc. has resorted to Article 15(3) and the Courts, too, have upheld the validity of these protective discriminatory provisions on the basis of constitutional mandate,

Article: 16 Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.

(2) No citizens shall, on grounds only of religion, race, cast, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the state.

The Constitution, therefore, provides equal opportunities for women implicitly as they are applicable to all persons irrespective of sex. However, the Courts realize that these Articles reflect only de jure equality to women. They have not been able to accelerate de facto equality to the extent the Constitution intended.

There is still a considerable gap between constitutional rights and their application in the day-to-day lives of most women. At the same time it is true that women are working in jobs which were hitherto exclusively masculine domains. But there are still instances which exhibit lack of confidence their capability and efficiency. There remains a long and lingering suspicion regarding their capacities to meet the challenges of the job assigned

In case of C.B. Muthumma v. Union of India (1979) 4 SCC 260)44, a writ petition was filed by Ms Muthamma, a senior member of the Indian Foreign Service, complaining that she had been denied promotion to Grade I illegally and unconstitutionally. She pointed out that several rules of the civil service were discriminatory against women. At the very threshold she was advised by the Chairman of the UPSC against joining the Foreign Service. At the time of joining she was required to give an undertaking that if she married she would resign from service. Under Rule 18 of the Indian Foreign Service (Recruitment, Cadre, Seniority and Promotion) Rules, 1961, it was provided that no married woman shall be entitled as of right to be appointed to the service. Under Rule 8(2) of the Indian Foreign Service (Conduct and Discipline) Rules, 1961, a woman member of the service was required to obtain permission of the Government in writing before her marriage was solemnised. At any time after the marriage she could be required to resign if the Government was confirmed that her family and domestic commitments were likely to come in the way of the due and efficient discharge of her duties as a member of the service. On numerous occasions the petitioner had to face the consequences of being a woman and thus suffered discrimination, though the Constitution specifically under Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 4 provides the principle of equality before law.

The Supreme Court through V.R. Krishna Iyer and P.N. Singhal, JJ. Held that:
"This writ petition by Ms Muthamma, a senior member of the Indian Foreign Service, bespeaks a story which makes one wonder whether Articles 14 and 16 belong to myth or reality. The credibility of the Constitutional mandates shall not be shaken by governmental action or inaction but it is the effect of the grievance of Ms Muthamma that sex prejudice against Indian womanhood pervades the service rules even a third of a century after Freedom. There is some basis for the charge of bias in the rules and this makes the ominous indifference of the executive to bring about the banishment of discrimination in the heritage of service rules. If high officials lose hopes of equal justice under the rules, the legal lot of the little Indian, already priced out of the expensive judicial market, is best left to guess."

Commenting further on the discriminatory rules the Court said:
"Discrimination against woman, in traumatic transparency, is found in this rule. If a woman member shall obtain the permission of government before she marries. The same risk is run by government if a male member contracts a marriage. If the family and domestic commitments of a woman member of the service is likely to come in the way of efficient discharge of duties, a similar situation may arise in thecase of a male member. In these days of nuclear families, intercontinental marriages and unconventional behaviour, one fails to understand the naked bias against the gentler of the species."

Expressing its opinion on Rule 18 of the Indian Foreign Service (Recruitment, Cadre, Seniority and Promotion) Rules, 1961, the Court observed:

"At the first blush this rule is defiance of Article 16. If a married man has a right, a married woman, other things being equal, stands on no worse footing. This misogynous posture is a hangover of the masculine culture of manacling the weaker sex forgetting how our struggle for national freedom was also a battle against woman's thralldom. Freedom is indivisible, so is justice. That our founding faith enshrined in Articles 14 and 16 should have been tragically ignored vis-a-vis half of India's humanity, viz. our women, is a sad reflection on the distance between Constitution in the book and Law in action. And if the executive as the surrogate of Parliament makes rules in the teeth of Part III, especially when high political office, even diplomatic assignment has been filled by women, the

Striking down the rules as violating the principle of quality, it was said:

"We do not mean to universalize or dogmatise that men and women are equal in all occupations and all situations and do not excludethe need to pragmatise where the requirements of particular employment, the sensitivities of sex or the handicaps of either sex may compel selectivity. But save where the differentiation is demonstrable the rule of equality must govern."

In case of Air India v. Nargesh Meerza ((1981) 4 SCC 335)4'5, Nargesh Meerza filed a writ petition, In this case, the air-hostesses of the Air-India International Corporation had approached the Supreme Court against, again, discriminatory service conditions in the Regulations' of Air-India. The Regulations provided that an air-hostess could not get married before completing four-years of service. Usually an air-hostess was recruited at the age of 19 years and the four-year bar against marriage meant that an air-hostess could not get married until she reached the age of 23 years. If she married earlier, she had to resign and if after 23 years she got married, she could continue as a married woman but had to resign on becoming pregnant. If an air hostess survived both these filters, she 'continued to serve until she reached the age of 35 years. It was alleged on behalf of the air-hostesses that those provisions were discriminatory on the ground of sex, as similar provisions did not apply to male employees doing similar work.

The Supreme Court upheld the first requirement that an air-hostess should not marry before the completion of four years of service. The court held that: "It was a sound and salutary provision. Apart from improving the health of the employee it helps a great deal in the promotion and boosting up of our family planning programme." However, this argument given by the Court came in for criticism that as the requirements of age and family planning were warranted by the population policy of the State and once the State had fixed the age of marriage, i.e. 18 years, the reasoning advanced for upholding the rule was a camouflage for the real concern. The Supreme Court struck down the Air-India Regulations relating to retirement and the pregnancy bar on the services of Air-hostesses as unconstitutional on the ground that the conditions laid down therein were entirely unreasonable and arbitrary. The impugned Regulation 46 provided that an air hostess would retire from the service of the corporation upon attaining the age of 35 years or on marriage, if it took place within 4 years of service, or on first pregnancy, whichever occurred earlier. Under Regulation 7, the Managing Director was vested with absolute discretion to extend the age of retirement prescribed at 45 years. Both these regulations were struck down as violative of Article 14, which prohibits unreasonableness and arbitrariness. In Sarita Samvedi v. Union of India (1996 (2) SCC 380)46, the Supreme Court held invalid a provision of the Railway Board Circular dated 27th December, 1982 which restricted the eligibility of a married daughter of a retiring official for out-of-turn allotment of a house, to situations where such a retiring official had no son or where the daughter was the only person prepared to maintain the parents and the sons were not in a position to do so. This was held to be discriminatory on the ground of sex. Reservations of seats for women in local bodies or in educational institutions have been upheld. The Supreme Court in Govt. of A.P. v. P.B. Vijayakumar, (1995 (4) SCC 520)4'7 held that reservation to the extent of 30% made in the State Services by the Andhra Pradesh Government for women candidates was valid. The Division Bench of the Supreme Court emphatically declared that the power conferred upon the State by Article 15(3) is wide enough to cover the entire range of State activity including employment under the State. The power conferred by Article 15(3) is not whittled down in any manner by Article 16.

In Madhu Kishwar v. State of Bihar{ (1996) 5 SCC 145}4'8, the Supreme Court dealt with the validity of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 of Bihar which denied the right of succession to Scheduled Tribe women as violative of the right to livelihood. The majority judgment however upheld the validity of legislation on the ground of custom of inheritance/succession of Scheduled Tribes. Dissenting with the majority, Justice K. Ramaswamy felt that the law made a gender-based discrimination and that it violated Articles 15, 16 and 21 of the Constitution. In his dissenting judgment he said: "Legislative and executive actions must be conformable to and for effectuation of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III, Directive Principles enshrined in Part IV and the Preamble of the Constitution which constitute the conscience of the Constitution. Covenants of the United Nations add impetus and urgency to .eliminate gender-based obstacles and discrimination. Legislative action should be devised suitably to constitute economic empowerment of women in socio-economic restructure for establishing egalitarian social order."

Gender equality becomes elusive in the absence of right to live with dignity.

Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty.

"No person shall be deprive of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Denial of right of succession to women of Scheduled Tribes amounts to deprivation of their right to livelihood under article 21; Madhu kishwar v. state of bihar, ((1196) 5 SCC 125)

In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3011)4'9, the Supreme Court, in the absence of legislation in the field of sexual harassment of working women at their place of work, formulated guidelines for their protection. The Court said:

"Gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity which is a universally recognised basic human right.

The common minimum requirement of this right has received global acceptance. In the absence of domestic law occupying the field, to formulate effective measures to check the evil of sexual harassment of working women at all workplaces, the contents of international conventions and norms are significant for the purpose of interpretation of the guarantee of gender equality, right to work with human dignity in articles 14, 15, 19(1}(g) and 21 of the Constitution and the safeguards against sexual harassment implicit therein and for the formulation of guidelines to achieve this purpose."

Article 23 prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour; Article 23 of the Constitution specifically prohibits traffic in human beings. Trafficking in human beings has been prevalent in India for a long time in the form of prostitution and selling and purchasing of human beings.

23. Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.—

(1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

(2) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State

shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.

In Gaurav Jain v. Union of India (1997 (8) SCC 114)410, the condition of prostitutes in general and the plight of their children in particular was highlighted. The Court issued directions for a multi-pronged approach and mixing the children of prostitutes with other children instead of making separate provisions for them. The Supreme Court issued directions for the prevention of induction of women in various forms of prostitution. It said that women should be viewed more as victims of adverse socio-economic circumstances than offenders in our society.

Directive Principles of State policy
However Directive Principles of State Policy are not enforceable in any court of law they are essential in the governance of the country and provide for the welfare of the people, including women. These provisions are contained in Part IV of the Constitution. Fundamental Rights furnish to individual rights while the Directive Principles of State Policy supply to social needs.

Article: 39 certain principles of policy to be followed by the state.

The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing -

(a) That the citizen, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;

(d) That there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;

(e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;

Article 39(a) directs the State to direct its policy towards securing that citizens, men and women, equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.

Article 39(d) directs the State to secure equal pay for equal work for both men and women. The State in furtherance of this directive passed the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 to give effect to the provision.

Article 39(e) specifically directs the State not to abuse the health and strength of workers, men and women.

Article: 42 Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.—

The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Article 42 of the Constitution incorporates a very important provision for the benefit of women. It directs the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

The State has implemented this directive by incorporating health provisions in the Factories Act, Maternity Benefit Act, Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, etc.

Uniform Civil Code

Article 44 Uniform civil code for the citizens. —

The State shall Endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Article 44 directs the State to secure for citizens a Uniform Civil Code applicable throughout the territory of India. Its particular goal is towards the achievement of gender justice. Even though the State has not yet made any efforts to introduce a

Uniform Civil Code in India, the judiciary has recognised the necessity of uniformity in the application of civil laws relating to marriage, succession, adoption, divorce, maintenance, etc. but as it is only a directive it cannot be enforced in a court of law.

However, one of the most dynamic members of the Assembly, Shri K.M. Munshi , expressed his opinion that: "if the personal law of inheritance, succession, etc. is considered as a part of religion, the equality of women can never be achieved."

Fundamental Duties
Parts IV-A which consist of only one Article 51-A was added to the constitution by the

42nd Amendment, 1976. This Article for the first time specifies a code of eleven

Fundamental duties for citizens.

Article 51-A (e) is related to women. It states that;

"It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religion, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women"

Article: 243 D Reservation of seats. (73rd Amendment - w.e.f. 1-6-1993)

(1) Seats shall be reserved for—
(a) The Scheduled Castes; and
(b) The Scheduled Tribes,

In every Panchayat and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Panchayat as the population of the Scheduled Castes in that Panchayat area or of the Scheduled Tribes in that Panchayat area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

(2) Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as

The case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.

(3) 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 Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

(4) The offices of the Chairpersons in the Panchayats at the village or any other level shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide: Provided that the number of offices of Chairpersons reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Panchayats at each level in any State shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of such offices in the Panchayats at each level as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State bears to the total population of the State:

Provided further that not less than one-third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women:

Provided also that the number of offices reserved under this clauses shall be allotted by rotation to different Panchayats at each level.

(1) The reservation of seats under clauses (1) and (2) and the reservation of offices of Chairpersons (other than the reservation for women) under clause (4) shall cease to have effect on the expiration of the period specified in article 334.

(2) Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from making any provision for reservation of seats in any Panchayat or offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at any level in favour of backward class of citizens.

Article: 243 T Reservation of seats. (74th Amendment - w.e.f. 1-6-1993)

243T. Reservation of seats.—
(1) Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Municipality as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the municipal area or of the Scheduled Tribes in the Municipal area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.

(2) Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.

(3) 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 shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.

(4) The offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

(5) The reservation of seats under clauses (1) and (2) and the reservation of offices of Chairpersons (other than the reservation for women) under clause (4) shall cease to have effect on the expiration of the period specified in article 334.

(6) Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from making any provision for reservation of seats in any Municipality or offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities in favour of backward class of citizens.

Article: 243 G. Powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats Read with Eleventh Schedule.

243G. Powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats -Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature of a State may, by law, endow the Panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government and such law may contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon Panchayats at the appropriate level, subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, with respect to—

(a) The preparation of plans for economic development and social justice;

(b) The implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them including those in relation to the matters listed in the Eleventh Schedule.

Recent developments:
The Government of India has declared 2001 as Women’s Empowerment year. The national policy of empowerment of women has set certain clear-cut goals and objectives. The policy aims at upliftment, development and empowerment in socio-economic and politico–cultural aspects, by creating in them awareness on various issues in relation to their empowerment. The following are the specific objectives of National Policies particularly of rural folk on Empowerment of women in India. i. Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential. ii. The de-jure and de-facto enjoyments of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all political, economic, social, cultural and civil spheres. iii. Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social political and economic life of the nation. iv. Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public life etc., v. strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. 300 vi. Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women. vii. Ministering a gender perspective in the development process. viii. Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child. ix. Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations. The National policy for empowerment of women envisaged introduction of a gender perspective in the budgeting process as an operational strategy. A few laws and legislations are enforced strictly for effective and proper implementation of this policy.

Beti padao beti bacho yojana

Women and children constitute around 70 % of India’s people and are the critical foundation for national development – at present and in the future. More inclusive growth must begin with children and women- breaking an intergenerational cycle of inequity and multiple deprivations faced by women and girls, as related to poverty, social exclusion, gender discrimination and undernutrition. This intergenerational cycle of multiple deprivation and violence faced by girls and women is reflected in the adverse and steeply declining child sex ratio in children under 6 years of age which reached an all-time low of 918 girls for every 1000 boys in 2011.

These commitments are embodied in the Constitution and in several enabling legislations, policies (such as the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women 2001, National Policy for Children 2013 and the National Nutrition Policy 1993), Five Year and Annual Plans and programmes. Despite this there are several challenges that remain and key issues which need to be addressed urgently. These include ensuring Women’s Safety, Protection and Empowerment, improving the Child Sex Ratio, ensuring Child Protection and preventing and reducing Maternal and Child Undernutrition and controlling anaemia across the life cycle.

Women’s Safety, Protection and Empowerment

Despite some recent positive momentum, the pace of progress in realizing women’s safety, protection and empowerment has not been adequate. This is reflected in the National Crime Records Bureau data, which highlighted that 3,09,546 incidents of crime against women (both under Indian Penal Code and other laws) were reported during the year 2013, as against the 2,44,270 cases reported during 2012, showing an increase of 26.7% (despite the fact that not all crimes against women are reported). The policy commitment to ensuring the safety, security and dignity of women NAVDISHA- National Thematic Workshop on Best Practices for Women and Child Development 20-21 January 2015 Panipat, Haryana Organised by Ministry of Women and Child Development Government of India and Government of Haryana

Ministry of Women and Child Development and girls in public and private spaces was reaffirmed – including through the Twelfth Plan provisions, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.

Ensuring women’s social, economic and political empowerment, fulfilment of their rights, promoting their participation and leadership requires comprehensive gender-responsive measures at different levels, including through legal, policy and institutional frameworks. The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act has given a new dimension to the process of women’s empowerment, with women panchayat members emerging in many settings as change leaders. Now progressively, many states are earmarking 50% reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions. A major thrust for economic empowerment has been through the formation of thrift and credit based self-help groups (SHGs) formed by women – with states such as Andhra Pradesh demonstrating effective ways of making this a mass movement. Increased support for women SHGs in the National Rural Livelihood Mission and in MGNREGA with women having a share of 115.54 (53%) crore person days in 2013-14 have been positive developments. Successful linkages between SHGs and Micro-Finance institutions such as RMK, NABARD, and SIDBI besides private microfinance institutions have helped in generating additional income, jobs and in creating small enterprises for women.

Adolescent girls, negatively impacting upon women‟s nutrition. highlighted that 43 per cent of currently married women in the age-group 20-24 years were married before attaining the age of 18 years. Adolescent girls married before the attainment of the age of 18 years, often go through early and frequent pregnancies.

NFHS 3 (2005-06) highlighted that nearly every

· second young child in India was undernourished (42.5 % of children under 5 years were underweight)

· seven out of ten children were anemic; every third woman in India was undernourished (35.6 % with low Body Mass Index)

· every second woman (15-49 years) was anemic (55.3%). Reinforcing legislative, policy, plan and programme commitments that address the multidimensional nature of the nutrition challenges, nutrition focus in relevant sectoral .

Based on these policy directions, a new National Nutrition Mission is being formulated. This is informed by innovative initiatives that have been taken up in several states

The strategies also address the criticality of ensuring the prevention and management of diseases, through universal access to health care in the National Health Mission and ensuring hygiene, sanitation and universal access to safe drinking water through Swachh Bharat, in convergence with ICDS and with greater community ownership, for improved nutrition outcomes.

Improving the Child Sex Ratio: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

Breaking an intergenerational cycle of multiple deprivations faced by girls and women is critical for more inclusive and sustainable growth.

This cycle is epitomized by the adverse sex ratio in young children in the 0-6 year’s age group, denying the girl child her right to be born and her right to life. It is also evident in other forms of gender based violence.

· The Census 2011 data was a call for urgent action, because this highlighted that the girl child is increasingly being excluded – not only from economic development and growth– but from life itself. If not reversed urgently, the steeply declining Child Sex Ratio will alter demography; erode gender justice, social cohesion and human development. The findings highlighted the need to urgently address the unabated decline in the CSR (0-6 years) in India, which has fallen from 927 in 2001 to an all-time low of 918 females per 1000 males in 2011. It is also clear that this problem is becoming more widespread – with this decline being seen in 18 states and 3 UTs. The absolute levels of the CSR still continue to be very low, even in some of the states where improvement is seen between Census 2001 and Census 2011. To highlight best practices for key themes related to Women, Child Rights, the Girl Child and

· Nutrition from different States, Union Territories and districts.

· To enable interstate sharing and learning from these models through thematic presentations,dialogue, state poster sessions and cluster/interest group interactions.

· To evolve a strategy framework that synthesizes learning from these models for adaptation/replication and enables innovation and new approaches.

· To encourage mentoring support between states and continued learning, through the formation of state interest groups, field based learning hubs and thematic e- networks.

· To develop a shared commitment for addressing key themes – especially as related to ensuring

· Care and Protection of the Girl Child – Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

The National Commission for Women has in the last few years introduced several new bills in the parliament from time to time towards eradication of many social evils. Some of the significant enactments are mentioned here.

The Hindu Widow Re-Marriage Act of 1856 :

In the traditions at Hindu society there was a ban on widow remarriage it was one of the most important evils from which women in the traditional Hindu society suffered a lot. This act allowed widow to remarry and section 5 of this Act ensured her to enjoy all the rights, which a married woman did.

The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 :

The practice of child marriage was another social evil from which women in traditional Hindu society suffered a lot. Age at marriage for girls was 9 or 10 and after passing this act the minimum marriageable age of women was fixed to 15 years. Later this age was increased up to 18 years.

The Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act of 1937 :

In the traditional society women had no property rights. In the eyes of law she was a minor or ward. This act recognized a widow of a deceased person as a surviving personality with the same right as his in the joint property. Thus, through this Act women in the Hindu society received the property right to a limited extent.

The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 :

This Act has recognized the equal rights of men and women in the matters of marriage and divorce. Under the provision of this Act either the man or woman can present a petition in a court of law for divorce, wife has got equal right to divorce husband.

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 :

This Act recognized an equal right for women in the matter of inheritance of property. She can inherit the property of her father along with her brothers. She can also sell or mortgage the inherited property or use it for herself. For the first time absolute ownership was conferred to a woman through this Act.

The suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act of 1956-57 :

This Act aims to deal with the problem of prostitution and to promote the welfare of fallen women. Main objectives of this Act are to reduce the scope of prostitution and to reform prostitution under this Act. Every state is expected to set up protective home and to appoint women police and women social workers. In protective homes these fallen women will be given training in tailoring, toy and basket making and other crafts so that they may earn for their maintenance in proper way.

The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961:

The main objective of this Act is to abolish giving and taking dowry at the time of marriage. The term dowry refers to a valuable property or thing, which is determined by the parties to a marriage for a marriage. The practice of dowry had produced very bad effects. Dowry system, dowry cases have not been reduced. Still this Act makes some effort in bringing social change. The above mentioned are the important legislations, which brought an upward trend in the status of women in India

As we all know that India is a male dominated country where males are dominated in every area and females are forced to be responsible for only family care and live in the home including other many restrictions. Almost 50% of the population in India is covered by the female only so the full development of the country depends on the half population means women, who are not empowered and still restricted by many social taboos. In such condition, we cannot say that our country would be a developed in the future without empowering its half population means women. If we want to make our country a developed country, first of all it is very necessary to empower women by the efforts of men, government, laws and women too.

The need of women empowerment arose because of the gender discrimination and male domination in the Indian society since ancient time. Women are being suppressed by their family members and society for many reasons. They have been targeted for many types of violence and discriminatory practices by the male members in the family and society in India and other countries as well. Wrong and old practices for the women in the society from ancient time have taken the form of well-developed customs and traditions. There is a tradition of worshipping many female goddesses in India including giving honour to the women forms in the society like mother, sister, daughter, wife and other female relatives or friends. But, it does not mean that only respecting or honouring women can fulfil the need of development in the country. It needs the empowerment of the rest half population of the country in every walk of life.

Gender inequality is the main social issue in India in which women are getting back in the male dominated country. Women empowerment needs to take a high speed in this country to equalize the value of both genders. Uplifting of women in all means should be the utmost priority of the nation. Inequalities between men and women in the society generate lots of problems which become a big obstruction in the way to success of nation. It is the birth rights of the women to get equal value to the men in the society. To really bring empowerment, every woman needs to be aware about their rights from their own end. They need to take positive steps and involve in every activities instead of only involving in the household chores and family responsibilities. They should know about all the happenings in their surroundings and country.

Women empowerment has the power to change many things in the society and country. They are much better than men to deal with certain problems in the society. They can better understand the disadvantages of the overpopulation for their family and country. They are fully able to handle the economic conditions of the family and country through proper family planning. Women are capable enough to handle any impulsive violence in comparison to the men whether in the family or society.

Through women empowerment, it can be possible to change the male dominated country into the equally dominated country of rich economy. Empowering women may easily help to grow each and every member of the family without any extra effort. A woman is considered to be responsible for everything in the family so she can better solve all the problems from her own end. Empowerment of the women would automatically bring empowerment of everyone.

Women empowerment is the better treatment of any big or small problems related to human being, economy or environment. In few last years, the advantages of the women empowerment are coming out in front of us. Women are being more conscious about their health, education, career, job and responsibilities towards family, society and country. They are taking part in the every area and showing their great interest in each field. Finally, after long years of hard struggle they are getting their rights to go ahead on the right track.

The most critical component of women’s empowerment is found to be education. It leads to improved economic growth, low fertility rate, health and sanitation and an awareness of factors that disempowered women. Work participation rate and political participation also grows in women’s education. The expansion of the market economy and industrialization and globalization brought increased inequalities, resulting in loss of livelihoods, erosion of natural resources and with it decreased women’s access to water, fuel, fodder and traditional survival resources. It also brought new forms of exploitation-displacement, tourism, sex trade and retrenchment to mention a few. Women are being pushed into less productive sectors. Increased pressure on rural resources accelerated migration to urban areas in search of livelihood. People from backward regions, tribal communities, disadvantaged castes and the displaced communities were being pushed against the wall. Women in such countries shouldered the brunt and this phenomenon was labelled feminisation of poverty.


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