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Equality of genders at workplace: Some thoughts

gender ‘At work place are you treated at par with your male counterparts?’ The question is of due importance owing to incidences of gender discrimination. Despite of the fact that last century has witnessed a boost in the status of women, such discrimination still exists. ‘Discrimination’ or ‘Discriminatory policies’ here relates to matters like pay, conditions pre and post employment, promotions and other opportunity matters.

Indian legislature proves to be a protective umbrella as the Constitutional edifice of India itself guarantees equality. It also directs towards equal right to work while forbidding any sort of discrimination in employment policies on basis of gender. This is materialized under Constitution of India as Article 14 ensures equality to women, while Article 15 specifically prohibits any discrimination on basis of gender. Article 16 in this respect, proves to be most important one as it guarantees equality of opportunity in matters of employment or appointment to any office.

The principles are equally applicable not only to public sector but also to private sector undertakings. For example, cases like Air India vs. Nargesh Mirza1 and C.B. Muthamma vs. Union of India2 have proved to be a breakthrough against such discriminatory employment policies in private sector undertakings. Here, the Supreme Court struck down discriminatory employment policies compelling female employees to obtain government permission before marriage and termination of service if she gets married or pregnant.

The Courts have even paved the path by quashing discriminatory provisions that imposed disadvantages on women. In such circumstances, the case of Maya Devi vs. State of Maharashtra3 has proved to be a landmark. Here the requirement of husband’s consent for wife’s application for public employment was struck down as an obstacle to women’s equality and economic justice.

The Supreme Court at times has awarded wider interpretation to Constitutional Articles and Legislations. In case of Makinnon Machenzie and Co. Ltd. vs. Audrey D'Costa4 it was held that lady stenographers were paid consideration at a lower rate than what was paid to their male counterparts. which was violation of the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

In addition to the legislative and judicial activism, international Covenants and Conventions like Millennium Development Goals and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have also paved the path for development of the women in member countries like India.

Multiple efforts have been implemented and even materialized. But for a developing country like India, it’s a long way followed by unprecedented efforts to grant women an equal status and thereby ensure her development. Such uniform and non discriminatory policies increases staff retention capacity as well. Over and above this encourages women to join the productive workforce, thus empowering economy of the nation!

 

- Palak Lotiya (views expressed in the article are that of the author)

References:

1.Air India v. Nargesh Mirza and others (1981) 4 SCC 335 Bhat, P. (2001). Constitutional Feminism: An Overview. Supreme Court Cases Journal. Retrieved January 12, 2010 from http://www.ebc-india.com/lawyer/articles/2001v2a1.htm

 

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