The status of Indian women has undergone considerable change. Though Indian women are far more independent and aware of their legal rights, such as right to work, equal treatment, property and maintenance, a majority of women remain unaware of these rights. There are other factors that affect their quality of life such as age of marriage, extent of literacy, role in the family and so on. In many families, women do not have a voice in anything while in several families; the women may have a dominating role. The result is that the empowerment of women in India is highly unbalanced and with huge gaps. Those who are economically independent and literate live the kind of life that other women tend to envy about. This disparity is also a cause for worry because balanced development is not taking place.
Discrimination at Workplace
However, Indian women still face blatant discrimination at their workplaces. A major problem faced by the working women is sexual harassment at the work place. Further, women employees working in night shift are more vulnerable to such incidents. Nurses, for example, face this problem nearly every day. There is nothing that is done in hospitals to tackle and address the danger they face. Such blatant disregard of current Indian laws is one reason why sexual harassment at the workplace continues to increase.
Also, Indian women are often deprived of promotions and growth opportunities at work places but this doesn’t apply to all working women. A majority of working women continue to be denied their right to equal pay, under the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and are underpaid in comparison to their male colleagues. This is usually the case in factories and labor-oriented industries.
Safety of Working Women While Traveling
Typically, the orthodox mindset in the Indian society makes it difficult for a working woman to balance her domestic environment with the professional life. In some families, it may not be acceptable to work after six o’clock. Those families that do accept these working hours may experience considerable anxiety every day about a woman’s safety while traveling. So many issues affect a working woman because she is closely protected or watched by her family and the society.
According to survey conducted by ASSOCHAM, on 1000 women professionals, around 80 per cent of the households expect their daughters-in-law to prioritize household requirements over the official work. Further, many of them are physically and psychologically abused, by their in-laws and husband but they do not complain or let others know about it, particularly if they have children.
Working Women Can Claim Maintenance
A woman’s legal right to claim maintenance from her husband is recognized under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 24, of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, entitles a woman to claim maintenance from her estranged husband. Also, the claim for maintenance is extendable to her minor children. Further, these laws provide that maintenance can be claimed even prior to divorce, during separation.
Initially, it was believed that a working woman in India is not entitled to claim maintenance, as she is capable of maintaining herself. However, the ambiguity was cleared by a significant decision in Bhagwan v. Kamla Devi, (1975) 2 SCC 386. The Supreme Court held that a working woman can claim maintenance from her estranged husband, if her monthly income is not enough for her maintenance. Further, the Court clarified that the term ‘Unable to maintain herself’ does not require a woman to be absolute destitute, to entitle her for maintenance.
The legal right of a woman pertaining to equal pay at the work place remains unaddressed most of the time because few women are confident enough to complain. About right to maintenance, it is restricted, if she remarries or converts to another religion. Further, there have been instances where the Court has ordered women with substantial earnings, to pay maintenance to their husbands.
Problems of Working Women
The liberated woman has come to the face today. The term chiefly implies a woman who is independent economically. For other things a woman still needs her husband and family. She cannot be liberated in matters of marriages and family otherwise she will not be accepted by society. When we consider the problems of a working woman in our society, her domestic life comes to mind immediately. What is a modern working woman like?
A working woman of today may belong to the middle, lower or higher echelons of society. Working women of middle or lower class have the work for economic reasons while those belonging to the higher class work to pass time. The woman who works for financial reasons has to face many problems. They have to work in an office or organization, full-time. Often she is sniggered at; people make passes at her and criticize her work just because she is a woman. However hard working she might be in her work, there are people ready to find faults in her work in order to harass her if she does not submit to their lewd advances. And the poor woman cannot report against these people for fear of losing her job or her reputation in the eyes of colleagues, family or society. She, indeed, has to keep walking on a razors edge all the time.
Her domestic life is also not smooth. She does not get any reprieve from household work because of her office job. She has to get up early in the morning to finish her household chores, get the children ready for school, prepare breakfast and lunch for her husband and school going children, clean the house before she is ready to go to office. The western concept of the husband helping in household chores has not taken roof in our country yet. When she comes back in the evening she has to help her children with their studies, prepare evening meals and try and look pleasant in front of family members and guests. Nobody bothers to find out her requirement to be fulfilled. Nobody shows any consideration for the poor working woman. She is sandwiched between two worlds and reduced to a virtual robot, trying to perform her functions and duties to the best of her abilities. Woe betides her if she falters even once from the set path.
The concept of working woman, leading a blissful domestic life, has not yet been accepted bye out society. It is time to give some attention to the poor, harassed working woman who also bears the burden of domesticity. It lies with her husband and her immediate family to help lighter burden and assist her in leading a normal happy life.
Essay No. 02
Inequality between Men and Women in Workplace
Problems Faced by Women in Workplace
In this century, a woman actively participates in workplace. Many women desire a career and a place in this world. They want to stand on their own two feet, to become self-independent individuals, independent and free from other individuals. One thing that is clear is that women in all careers are striving to gain equality in the work force today. Through their determination, women now have the ability to break out of the gender roles that were created for them by society. One of the issues that have affected women in the workplace is that of stereotyping of women. Throughout history women have taken the role of housewife, mother, and nurturer. Women are stereotyped to stay at home and take care of the house and children. It has been their job to cook the meals, do the laundry, and manage the children’s school activities. Even today, motherhood is still considered to be the primary role for women. Women who do not take on this role are still thought of as selfish. Women that look to establish careers outside the home, for years, were thought of as being selfish and self-centered. Because women were viewed as homemakers they were often given jobs that were meaningless, and they were not thought of as managers or professionals. Even today, women are not treated the same as men. One i area that clearly shows this oppression is the area of equal pay for equal jobs. Another area in which women are at a disadvantage in the workplace is through discrimination. Discrimination can be an uncomfortable situation for the women involved. There are two types of discrimination, indirect and direct. Indirect discrimination might be a women being overlooked for a promotion, or an employee displaying inappropriate sexual material in the workplace. Direct discrimination may include a women being discharged from her employment because she is pregnant, or being excluded from after work group events. Another major area were women have been affected in the workplace is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is closely linked to sex discrimination. Sexual discrimination forces women into lower paying jobs, and sexual harassment helps keep them there. One thing is clear, whether the problem is sexual harassment or sexual discrimination the problem continues to exist in the workplace, creating tension that make their jobs more difficult. In the last decade, companies have turned their attention to some of these issues. There has been more training and education about women’s issues. Even though there is more corporate training for these issues, this training may not work, but start educating people. Women need to overcome the image that they are sensitive People, which let their emotions control their mind. They need to, prove that they can think with their minds and not their hearts when it comes to business. Most people want to correct the unequal treatment of women in the workplace. One method that can be used to support equality would be to introduce legislation to guarantee equal pay for equal work. The logistical problems associated with this solution would be great. How would people measure the value of one person’s work another’s? ‘Who would decide this and how would it be implemented?
Our attitudes toward women in the workplace are slowly starting to change. More opportunities are appearing for women workers today than ever before. The unequal treatment of working women will take years to change, but change is occurring. This topic will remain until people treat and pay women equally, based upon their abilities. There have been many remedies introduced into the workplace that have tried to address the injustice toward women in the workplace.
Although there have been many improvements for women in the workplace but there are still many inequalities for women when compared to men. Remedies are needed to secure a fair and equal role in the workplace. This change can only fully occur when we change the attitudes of every individual toward women. When we accomplish that then we can finally achieve gender equality in the workplace.