Even in the 21st century, women are considered inferior and subjected to inequality in many places. The condition of women is deteriorating from ancient to medieval. Various reformers struggled a lot for the upliftment of women’s rights and equality for them. In ancient India, it was considered that at that time women enjoyed equal status like men did. It is according to the Vedic period.
Later on, the status of women declined and they put in a position which was subordinate to men. In the medieval period, when Mughals invaded, the status or the position of women got worse. For the time being reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy worked for the upliftment and empowerment of women. When India got its independence, there was a special provision that was added in the Indian constitution which gives equal rights to women whether it be in political participation of the country or equal pay for both men and women in workplaces.
Provisions that are incorporated in the Indian Constitution to protect Women’s Rights.
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution specifically mentions that India assures Justice: social economic and political. Equality of status and opportunity and dignity to the individual. Therefore it strives to achieve the equal status of both men and women.
- Article 14- Right to Equality which includes Right to women as well.
- Article 15(1)- Specifically restricts the discrimination on the basis of sex.
- Article 15(3)- It gives power to State to make laws for the upliftment of women if found necessary.
- Article 16- Provides an equal opportunity for all citizens in matters related to appointment or employment.
Directive Principles of State Policy:
There are many provisions with incorporate various guidelines. The guidelines direct the State to achieve the welfare of women. The various articles are given below-
- Article 39(a)- Directs the State to make policies towards securing the Right to an adequate means of livelihood for both men and women.
- Article 39(d)- It makes compulsory to pay equally for both men and women for the same work done.
- Article 42- Directs State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions for work and for maternity relief.
Now, why does India need a National Policy For Women?
Despite all the provisions that are incorporated in the Indian constitution. The welfare of women totally is still to be achieved. Nowadays women face problems like domestic violence, the feminization of property, dowry is still prevalent, acid attacks, typical portrayal of women, an investment that is inadequate in social sectors, and many more problems.
The last policy that was formulated was the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women. It was formulated in 2001. Till then there are a number of changes we have noticed. This draft shifts the objective of giving welfare benefits to women, to involving them in the developmental process.
Key Features of the Draft National Policy for Women 2016.
- This draft is based on the Pam Rajput Committee Report set up by MWCD in 2012. It gave suggestions and recommended making plans to end violence against women.
- The priority of the draft is also to provide nutrition to women of all ages. Conducting workshops to address the problem of women aged above 60.
- It facilitates and focuses on maternal and prenatal mortality. It focuses on providing a system for safe deliveries in remote and isolated areas.
- It also focuses on the active participation of women in the workplace and politics. In focus on filling the gap between the genders Creating business opportunities, striving to achieve gender equality in the agricultural field, ensuring the rights of women in immovable properties as well.
- It also aims at providing a secure environment for women. Initiatives like reservation of women in various fields, women helpline, creating a method to provide an immediate response during emergencies, surveillance in almost every public area.
- It also aims to ensure the Right to surrogate mothers, commissioning mothers. It provides opportunities for artificial reproductive techniques.
Current Welfare Schemes for Women in India:
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
- Support to Training and Employment Programmes for women(STEP)
- Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (National Credit Fund for Women)
- Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) – Conditional Maternity Benefit (CMB) Scheme
- Ujjwala scheme
- SWADHAR (A scheme for women in difficult times)
The only solution to women’s empowerment is not legislation. The situation can be changed for the betterment only when the societal attitude towards women changes. When boys and men will be condemned for their unacceptable behavior towards women. Only then we can achieve equality. In the National Policy for Women, there is no mention of marital rape. In this policy, more empowerment programs for women should be incorporated in order to achieve the welfare of women.
Riya Agarwal | Amity Law Scool, Lucknow