Since Independence India has legislated various laws to empower women and to ensure woman safety & equality at workplace. Women perform numerous roles and they must know the rights associated with all these roles. Knowing whom to approach and how to approach when your rights are violated, in itself will lead to women empowerment.
- Major challenges faced by women
- Laws pertaining to women’s safety & equality at workplace
Irrespective to the strata of society to which a woman belongs whether its rich or poor, old or young, working or non-working, every woman around the world face violence at emotional, sexual & psychological level. The emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse for those who were already living in vulnerable situations. According to United Nations, France seen a 30% increase; Singapore 33% increase and many other countries like Canada, Germany, USA & UK where there is an increase in demand for emergency shelter not because of Covid-19 but due to Domestic Violence.
UN Women has urged member states to include rise in gender based violence as a “Shadow pandemic” and also make certain arrangements in their action plans on COVID-19.
Women have had to go through a lot of inequality at home and also at their respective workplaces. Despite of all these inequalities and this male dominated world women have reached heights but on the other side they are also facing challenges.
Major Challenges Faced by Women
- Gender wage gap: Gender wage gap refers to the difference in earnings between women and men. This gap is calculated in a multitude of way. According to experts, women consistently earn less than men, and the gap is wider for most women of color.
- Lack of intent: Most of the times women’s ability to lead is often undermined by his male counterparts because of certain women stereotypes prevailing in the society. This further exaggerates the situation and limits the opportunities for the so called minorities which in this case turns out to be women.
- Sexual harassment at workplace: Pandemic has completely transformed the definition of workplace and so does the definition of harassment of women in professional workspace have also turned. Sexual harassment of women at workplace not just sabotage the women’s right to work rather it also takes away their right to a dignified life. This connects with the most important issue which is defined in point (4)
- Restriction of opportunities: This act of sexual harassment at workplace, lack of intent to promote women discourages women to take up new jobs which ultimately restrict work opportunities for them.
- Lack of grievance redressal system: Irrespective of various laws in place legislated by the government for the purpose of ensuring safe working environment for the women there is still a lot of check and balances to be put in place to make an effective grievance redressal system work.
The National commission for women committee which recently reviewed the provisions pertaining with Harassment of women at workplace (Prevention, prohibition, redressal) act; concluded that various companies have not adhered with the direction regarding constitution of an Internal complaints committee.
The biggest form of women empowerment is to guide me through their legal rights, so that they can become their own torchbearers. Legal awareness will give them a chance to live a dignified life without being push back from any external influence.
Laws Pertaining to Women Safety & Equality at Workplace
- Sexual harassment of women at workplace (Prevention, prohibition & redressal) act, 2013: This act particularly seeks to protect women against any sexual harassment at workplace. This ensures their right to dignity, gender equality, life & liberty. With this sort of safety and security measures put in place, the women’s participation in work will improve that will ultimately lead to economic empowerment & inclusive growth of women.
Employers who fail to comply with the rules & regulation mentioned under this act is subject to penalty of INR 50,000.
- Maternity benefit act, 1961: To provide women employees a sense of job and income security even during their maternity days, the maternity benefit act was recently amended in the year 2017 to increase the maternity leave period to 26 weeks from earlier 12 week period. This boosts up the moral of the women to join the workforce.
- Equal remuneration act, 1976: Equal remuneration act was introduced with the motive of removing the gender related pay gaps prevailing in the Indian work environment. This act introduced a milestone for equal remuneration payment to both men & women for the prevention of discrimination at workplace on the grounds of sex, against women in the matter of employment.
- Law protecting women working night shifts: The employer is responsible to ensure proper facility for women employee in case she is working in night shifts. Proper facility includes providing sufficient security and conveyance during night shifts.
- Law for factory workers: Providing proper working conditions in a factory is the responsible of employer. He can be penalised if don’t do so. Proper working conditions includes ensuring health, safety, welfare, proper working hours, leave, and other benefits. If a factory hires more than 30 women workers, it has to have crèche for children aged 6 years and below.
In the recent times, women population is marred with poverty, illiteracy, & sheer ignorance of law; due to which a large segment has to suffer violation of laws & rights. Women & girls should be sensitised about the rights as provided in the constitution of India and various other special laws such as; Indian penal code, 1860
Dowry prohibition act, 1961, Prevention of domestic violence to women act, 2005.
When it comes to ensuring gender equality, violence free society & women safety at workplace, the younger generation plays a very crucial role in it. Gender sensitisation viz. is about changing the behaviour & bringing in the sense of empathy in our attitudes towards other genders. Organizations need to come up with the modified internal policies to ensure that women’s feel at par with their male counterparts at the workplace. In addition to equality we also need to modify our sexual harassment policies so that women can feel safe at their workplace.
Any law alone will not change the women’s condition but it is a collective responsibility on us as a society that we must change our thought process becomes more gender sensible.