This article has been written by Nikunj Arora, a student of Amity Law School, Noida. This article provides a detailed overview of women’s rights around the globe, along with several major frameworks adopted by the UN for the protection of women’s rights. This article also discusses some of the important global programmes and landmark judgments for women’s rights.
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Table of Contents
At the Women’s March in Los Angeles in 2018, an activist held up a sign proclaiming, “Human rights are women’s rights.” Women’s rights have long been controversial, but the United Nations formally approved this concept at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. This idea was then propelled into the mainstream as the concept of ‘gender equality’ was sidelined for centuries, following Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (former United States Secretary of State) speech at the United Nations conference.
It was 25 years later that the phrase “Women’s rights are human rights” entered mainstream idioms from Hillary Clinton’s speech. Although there was nothing new about the concept, Clinton’s speech at the Fourth World Conference on Women generated so much excitement and energy that it revitalized modern feminism and contributed to global attempts at achieving gender equality. The argument that gender equality should be a human right has long been made by women’s rights advocates but was rebuffed for years by those who claimed men’s rights were higher than women’s.
Although a great deal of progress has been made over many years by the women’s rights movement around the globe, women and girls are still married to children or subjected to forced labour and sex slavery. For example, when the Taliban recently acquired Afghanistan, the Taliban deprived women of their livelihoods. In some cases, women cannot even get access to education or political participation, while in other cases, others find themselves trapped in conflicts where rape is used as a means to inflict pain and suffering on them. Pregnancy-related deaths and childbirth-related deaths around the globe are excessive, and women are denied the freedom to make personal decisions about their lives. This article makes an attempt to give a comprehensive view of women’s rights.
The history of women’s rights
History around the globe
The advocacy around the claim that “women’s rights are human rights” dates back many years. Activists from the Global South as well as women of colour in the United States (US) have been part of the movement for a long time. It is interesting to note that Latin American feminists played a significant role in 1945, when the United Nations was founded, in advancing women’s rights into the realm of human rights. Pauli Murray, a prominent civil rights lawyer, feminist, and advocate for women’s rights, argued specifically that “women’s rights are part of human rights” after World War II, when the US Black freedom movement often employed human rights arguments.
At the end of the 20th century, there was a shift in the way feminist movements had been used, as far-reaching and expanding global movements began to advocate for change at the United Nations and beyond by advocating that “women’s rights are human rights.”
During the 1980s, a significant portion of that movement gained traction when women around the world began asking why the majority of human rights advocacy was focused on male political prisoners. The end of the 20th century marked a change in the way the feminist movement advocated for change at the UN, harnessing the idea that “women’s rights are human rights.”
These efforts challenged narrow male-centred conceptions of human rights and argued for the inclusion of violence against women within the framework. These movements grew stronger as women exchanged ideas with one another at conferences and meetings held around the world, giving each other support and momentum. Activists from the global south were important participants in this burgeoning global feminist movement. Events such as the 1985 UN World Conference on Women in Nairobi increased the strength of this movement in the 1980s and 1990s.
Women’s advocates noted that despite women’s experiences of gender-based violence across the globe, no action was taken to address it as a human rights violation. Both within and across nations, women’s experiences differed greatly. They concluded that everybody would benefit from a push to include women’s experiences in international human rights frameworks.
Several other feminist campaigns adopted the United Nations as a goal of their burgeoning women’s human rights network in the early 1990s. The feminist movement was compared to the protests and demonstrations of the 1960s and 1970s by journalists. They were not willing to report it to the UN. Nevertheless, at the Second UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, feminist groups organized a high-profile tribunal on women’s human rights violations, lobbying government delegations and presenting a petition signed by half a million people from 124 countries, demanding recognition of women’s rights as human rights. It was a triumphant end to the conference.
In the Vienna Declaration, it was stated that “women’s and girls’ human rights are inalienable, integral, and indivisible parts of universal human rights”. The declaration was a vehicle for activists from all over the world to lobby their governments for new laws and policies to protect the vulnerable. Hillary Clinton spent several months in the global South learning about women’s human rights struggles before addressing the crowd in Beijing. It wasn’t a spontaneous speech. Her words were informed by her experiences with this vibrant grassroots feminist movement.
History of women’s rights in India
Historically, women’s rights in India have gone through three phases, which are as follows:
- During the first phase of the development of women’s rights, reformists began to reform education and customs by advocating for women’s rights in the mid-19th century.
- There was also a second phase between 1915 and the independence of India when Mahatma Gandhi included women’s movements in the Quit India movement and independent women’s organizations started to form.
- The final phase, post-independence, is characterized by the right of women to political parity, fair treatment after marriage, as well as equal opportunities in the workplace.
There are still several obstacles that inhibit women in India from fully utilizing their rights and opportunities despite the advancements. A woman’s religious rights and expectations, or the religious laws and expectations enumerated by her religion, commonly conflict with the Indian Constitution, denying her the legal rights and privileges she should enjoy. Even though there is still much to be done with regard to women’s rights, a lot of progress has already been made in securing rights for women in India.
1848–First women’s rights convention: In protest over the fact that women are prohibited from speaking at an anti-slavery convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention in New York. In a declaration of feelings and resolutions, they demand the right of women to civil, social, political, and religious rights
1911-International Women’s Day: International Women’s Day is observed annually on 8 March, drawing more than one million people throughout Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland to promote women’s suffrage and equal pay. It was initially used as a protest against World War I.
1920- Voice against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): The Egyptian Society of Physicians is the first known organization to declare that the practice of female genital mutilation is harmful to health.
1945 – As a result of World War II, the United Nations was formed in 1945 to promote international cooperation. A fundamental principle of the organization is gender equality. The UN took many steps to ensure that women’s rights are protected. A global intergovernmental organization dedicated exclusively to gender equality was formed in 1946 with the Commission on the Status of Women. It is noteworthy that UN Women became the first agency of the United Nations exclusively dedicated to women’s rights in 2010.
1970 – In Mexico, the first World Conference on Women, the first Decade for Women, and the first International Women’s Year increased the level of global discussion of women’s rights.
1994 – ICPD Programme of Action: In this 23-year action plan, people and their rights were at the center and the health of women and girls was recognized as a critical part of everyone’s well-being.
2000 – UN Security Council Resolution 1325: It was the first political and legal framework of the United Nations. This was formed to recognize that war impacts women differently and that it calls for women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution.
2006 – Gulabi gang: It is an Indian community of poverty-stricken women, wielding bamboo spears, that was formed when they heard their neighbour abusing his wife in Banda district, Uttar Pradesh state. As a result of their intervention, the husband acknowledged the abuse and stopped it. As of today, tens of thousands of women dressed in pink (gulabi) are organizing to fight individual and collective injustices against women in the state, inspiring similar movements throughout the country.
2013 – Education for all: This movement was started by Malala Yousafzai, an education activist and a schoolgirl who was attacked in Pakistan. In 2013, Malala survived a gunshot wound to the head and neck and spoke at the UN for the first time on her 16th birthday, marking her first public appearance.
21st century – The rise of digital activism.
Women’s rights in the light of activists
Human rights belong to all of us. Among these are the right to live in peace and without violence or discrimination, the right to be in good health physically and mentally, the right to be educated, the right to own property, the right to vote, and the right to earn a living wage. Despite this, many women and girls around the world continue to be discriminated against reasons related to their gender and sex. Gender disparity contributes to many of the problems that disproportionately affect women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence, low pay, inadequate education, and insufficient healthcare.
For many years, feminist movements have belatedly addressed this inequity, lobbying for a change in laws or taking to the streets to claim their rights. Digitalization has also led to the emergence of new movements, such as #MeToo, which draws attention to gender-based violence and sexual harassment. In a nutshell, activists throughout centuries and today fought for the following rights:
People began agitating against voting rights for women during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was New Zealand that gave women the right to vote on a national level for the first time in 1893. Throughout the world, women’s suffrage movement took shape, and today, the right to vote is provided for under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979).
However, despite the advances, women still have difficulty in exercising their rights in many places around the world. For instance, Syrian women have effectively been cut off from participation in politics, including the ongoing peace talks.
Pakistan has a constitution that ensures women’s right to vote, but women in some areas have been effectively prevented from voting due to patriarchal practices in the community that prevent them from voting. Additionally, mandatory photo screening was introduced by the Afghanistan authorities in 2019 at polling stations, which resulted in voting difficulties for women who live in conservative communities.
The right to make decisions about one’s body should be guaranteed to all individuals. It is the right of every woman and girl to exercise her reproductive and sexual rights. Thus, women should have access to health care, including contraception and safe abortions, and be able to decide whether, when, and with whom they intend to marry and whether to have children.
The right to live free from gender-based violence, such as rape and other forms of sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, or forced sterilization, should be guaranteed to all women. There is still a lot of work to be done before all women have equal access to these rights, as not all countries grant these rights to women.
Freedom of movement
We are entitled to the freedom to move around freely as we wish, not just within our own country, but also between countries. Yet many women find this difficult. Some nations do not allow minors to have their passports, and some require consent from a male guardian to travel. For example, the Saudi Arabian government has succeeded in allowing women to drive, despite decades of bans. However, many women’s rights activists continue to face persecution and detention simply because they peacefully advocate for their rights.
Women’s rights in India
Many women in this country are not aware of their rights. The following are the women’s rights in India based on gender equality:
Right to equal pay
Increasing discriminatory pay scales for the same type of work have contributed to the emergence of issues related to ‘pay gap’ or unequal pay. The Indian economy still lacks an inclusive and transparent wage policy, and due to this, equal pay has become a matter of concern. The concept of equal pay encompasses not only basic pay but also other benefits and allowances.
According to Article 39(d) and Article 41 of the Indian Constitution, both men and women are entitled to equal pay for equal work. They form the Directive Principles of State Policy. The guidelines will therefore serve as a guide to both the central and state governments of India, which are to be considered when framing laws and policies. Legislation such as the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 also plays a crucial role and is a prime example of this. Section 4 of the Act not only stresses equal pay for equal work but also prohibits employers from reversing their pay scales to achieve an equilibrium.
The Supreme Court first considered equal pay for equal work in Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India (1962). The court decided that the principle could not be enforced in court. Mackinnon Mackenzie’s case, however, led to the recognition it deserved in 1987. This case concerned a claim of equal remuneration for men and women stenographers. The lady stenographers won the case as the court ruled in their favour.
Right to live in dignity and decency
The right to live in dignity, devoid of coercion, violence, and discrimination, belongs to every woman. Laws are very sensitive towards women’s rights and dignity. Sexual harassment (Section 354A), assault with the intent to disrobe her (Section 354B), voyeurism (Section 354C), stalking (Section 354D), and the like, are all crimes punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Right against workplace harassment
Females are entitled to file a complaint against any kind of sexual harassment at their workplace under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The Act permits her to make a complaint in writing to an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at a branch office within 3 months of the incident. In Vishakha and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors. (1997), the following were the issues raised:
- Do sexual harassment at the workplace constitute a violation of the Right to Life and Liberty and the Right to Gender Equality?
- Can the court apply international laws if there are no applicable measures under current law?
- In the event that sexual harassment is perpetrated against or by an employee, does the employer bear any responsibility?
It was stated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that there was no law to prevent sexual harassment and provide women with a safe working environment. According to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 354 and Section 354A were to be referred to in any case of sexual harassment, but these provisions were not applicable in this case. Thus, the Hon’ble Court became aware of the need for proper, effective legislation to address sexual harassment.
Right against domestic violence
Women who live in households like mothers or sisters are protected under Section 498A of the IPC from domestic abuse (including verbal, economic, emotional, and sexual) perpetrated by their husbands, male live-in partners, or relatives. As punishment, the accused will be sentenced to an indeterminate period of imprisonment, which may extend to three years, and will also have to pay a fine.
Right against dowry
Despite the Dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961, dowry continues unabated in India. The bride’s family is often expected to give ‘gifts’ to the groom and his family, even if this is not demanded outright. Dowry is illegal in India, and hence, taking or giving dowry is a punishable act under the Act. The penalty for violating the anti-dowry law is imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of either Rs. 15,000 or the amount of dowry given, whichever is greater.
Right to keep their identity anonymous
There is a criminal offence in India for a person to disclose the identity of a victim of an offence committed under Section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the IPC (which broadly covers sexual assault offences). According to Section 228A of the IPC, publishing the names of victims of sexual assault is prohibited, except in exceptional circumstances, such as when the victim or next of kin is authorised to do so in writing (if the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind). Further, the media is prohibited from releasing any information that could lead to the identification of a child victim under Section 23 of the POCSO Act, 2012.
Right to legal aid
According to Articles 14 and 22(1) of the Constitution of India, the State must ensure equality before the law and create a legal system that promotes justice and gives equal opportunity to everyone. As of 9th November 1995, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the parliament to create a uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of society nationwide. By virtue of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is responsible for assessing the effectiveness of legal aid programs, and establishing policies and principles for ensuring the availability of legal assistance to the needy.
Right not to be arrested at night
A mode of arrest is outlined in Section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A person is arrested if they are seized by or touched by authorities to put them in prison. Unless the individual seeking to be arrested submits to the arresting officer’s method and goes with the officer, the officer’s words do not constitute an arrest.
According to Section 46, the police have to seek permission from the Magistrate before arresting a lady after sunset, and the arrest should be carried out by a lady police officer. A sub-section was added by the legislature to Section 46 of the Code by Section 6 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005, to prohibit arresting a woman after sunset or before sunrise except in unavoidable circumstances.
Right to register virtual complaints
An individual can file a complaint with the Delhi Police via email or registered mail, as per the Delhi Police guidelines. For any woman who, for whatever reason, cannot visit a police station, she can make a written complaint by email or registered mail to a senior police officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner. As an added option, a rape victim can lodge a police report at any police station using the Zero FIR. Police stations do not have the right to deny registering an FIR because it does not fall within their jurisdiction.
Right to privacy while recording the statement
A woman who has been raped may record her statement before the district magistrate during a trial, as specified in Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. No other witnesses must be in attendance while the statement is being recorded. The statement may also be recorded with only one police officer and a female constable in a convenient location that does not cause confusion or provide any possibility of a fourth person hearing the statement. Maintaining the privacy of the woman is a legal requirement for the police. While narrating the incident, the person should be comfortable and not under stress in any way.
Furthermore, additional recommendations have been made aimed at strengthening the legal entitlements of women in addition to these existing legal rights:
Rape does not mean that a woman or her community loses their honour
After the Nirbhaya Gang-rape case, the Justice Verma Committee was created to recommend amendments to criminal laws dealing with crimes against women. The committee recommended that rape should not be treated as a matter of dishonour against the victimised woman or her family. Women often avoid bringing their offenders to justice due to shame and loss of honour.
Women must have real consent, not only a lack of violence
According to the 84th Law Commission report, the victim’s consent cannot be obtained with violence. Real consent to any sexual act must be obtained. The consent will not be considered ‘consent’ if it is obtained after the woman has been threatened with spreading false stories about her or that her property would be destroyed or that her children or parents would suffer harm, or if she has held out other threats of harm to her person, reputation, or property.
Marriage should be based on equality and respect for dignity
It was recommended by Justice Verma that a marital relationship between the perpetrator and victim is not a valid defence in cases involving rape or sexual offences. The report recommends mandatorily registering marriages in the presence of a magistrate (irrespective of the personal laws under which they are solemnized) as a first step. It will be the magistrate’s responsibility to verify that no dowry demands are made and that there is full consent from both parties.
Women’s Rights Bill
According to the Verma Committee, women should be entitled to a Bill of Rights that guarantees that they have the right to live in dignity and security, as well as the right to be sexually autonomous concerning their relationships.
Global programmes for women’s rights
Vienna hosted the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights. At the time, it was intended to review the existing human rights machinery. “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” was the rallying cry used by women’s rights activists to assert the importance of women’s rights within the international community.
As a result of the Conference, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action were adopted. Specifically, the International Covenant stated that women and girls’ human rights are inalienable, integral, and indivisible parts of universal human rights. The Covenant placed a strong emphasis on eliminating gender-based violence.
International conference on population and development
1994 was a landmark year for women’s rights as a result of the International Conference on Population and Development. Interestingly, despite the conference’s primary focus being on issues related to population, the delegates agreed that population is not only about statistics but about people as well.
Women’s human rights are fundamentally discussed in its programme of action, including gender equality, the family, reproductive health, birth control, family planning, maternal health, and women’s education. Human rights were explicitly emphasized in the Programme of Action. Promoting gender equality and equity, empowering women, and ensuring that women can manage their fertility were some of the essential components.
The Beijing Declaration
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995 outlined an agenda for the empowerment of women that addressed 12 key areas concerning the implementation of women’s human rights. As a result of this conference, the rights of women were explicitly articulated as human rights, in contrast to previous conferences on women. A Platform for Action prioritized eliminating discrimination against women and achieving equality between women and men through numerous strategic objectives. The plan involved the application of political and legal strategies on a global scale in accordance with human rights principles. Among the comprehensive expressions of states’ commitment to the rights of women, the Platform for Action was considered to be the most comprehensive.
UN Conference on Sustainable Development
In 2012, heads of state and government met in Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The assessment was aimed at evaluating the progress made since the landmark 1992 Conference on the Environment and Development of the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro. A high-level forum was also established to discuss sustainable development. Countries reaffirmed political commitment to sustainable development at this conference, and goals for sustainable development were established.
Among the key outcomes was a document called “The Future We Want”. Additionally, it reaffirmed the commitment of States to the rights, participation and leadership of women in the economy, society, and political spheres. As part of the outcome document, women were called on to take part in all aspects of sustainable development with effective participation. It was also stated that discriminatory laws should be repealed so that women can access justice justly and equally.
UN Bodies for the Development of Women’s Rights
The following are the bodies of the United Nations concerned with the protection, promotion, and development of women’s rights:
The Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council is the UN’s principal intergovernmental body for promoting and protecting human rights. Since its creation in 2006, the Human Rights Council, which is comprised of 47 states, regularly holds special panels addressing women’s rights and the integration of gender issues. Furthermore, the United Nations and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, have issued many resolutions urging governments to comply with their obligations relating to women’s rights.
For women’s rights to remain on the international agenda, these discussions and resolutions are indispensable. It has also been empowered to call special sessions to address human rights violations and emergencies. In some instances, these special sessions have provided an opportunity for women to discuss their rights, if violated.
In addition, there is a programme called Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which was established by the Council. The UPRs provides an important opportunity for evaluating how states are meeting their international obligations related to women’s rights. Every four and a half years, the human rights situation in all United Nations Member States is evaluated through this mechanism. The UPR recommendations frequently refer to women’s rights.
UN Security Council
As part of a series of resolutions, the Security Council has addressed several issues related to women, peace, and security. As part of ‘Resolution 1325’, which was adopted in 2000, the Security Council called for women to become more involved in conflict prevention and resolution as well as in peace negotiations and implementation. Furthermore, in Resolution 1325 (2000), and various other Security Council resolutions (along with the Secretary-General’s report), the Security Council often calls on all parties to conflicts to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in armed conflicts. The Council also makes sure at the same time that women play an important role in peace processes as agents of change.
Commission on the Status of Women
In 1946, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women. In addition to recommending and reporting to the Council, the Committee also works to promote women’s rights in the political, economic, civil, social, and educational arenas.
As part of its mandate, the Commission must also recommend to the Council the urgent problems in the area of women’s rights that need immediate attention. The members of the Commission meet once each year and issue statements on priority themes. As part of the agreed conclusions, governments, international organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders are addressed with concrete recommendations that assess progress, identify gaps, and address challenges. Furthermore, the Commission takes action on issues related to women’s rights.
Landmark Indian judgments around women’s rights
Vindhya Saxena v. East Delhi Municipal Corporation (Right to use mother’s surname)
In Vindhya Saxena v. East Delhi Municipal Corporation (2021), the Delhi High Court stated that a father does not have the right to dictate terms to his daughters, and each child may use their mother’s name as long as it is appropriate. During the hearing, the court issued the directive in response to a petition from the father of a minor girl, who was seeking permission to use his name as the daughter’s surname instead of her mother’s.
The judge declined the plea and refused to give a direction like this and claimed that the father does not own his daughter. According to the judge, the minor girl can use her mother’s surname if she wishes to do so. It was held that every child has the right to use his or her mother’s surname if he or she so desires.
Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma (Equal rights in property)
The Supreme Court ruled in Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma (2020) that daughters have an equal claim to Hindu property in an undivided family. According to the court, this right is derived from birth. Daughters also enter the coparcenary when they are born, as sons do. The proviso to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 provides that a daughter born before September 9, 2005, can claim these rights with effect from the date of the amendment. In addition, the court clarified that as the coparcenary right is by birth, the father of the coparcener didn’t have to be alive on September 9, 2005.
Secretary, Ministry of Defense v. Babita Puniya and Ors (Gender equality in the army)
As a result of its decision in the Secretary, Ministry of Defense v. Babita Puniya and Ors (2020), the Supreme Court has paved the way for a new era of constitutional change in the Indian Army by shattering gender stereotypes. The court ruled that all female army officers are eligible for command responsibilities as well as for permanent commissions. Further, the court stated that the submissions presented by the Ministry of Defense were “supported by sexist stereotypes and assumptions about socially attributed roles of gender which discriminate against women.”
In part, this statement reflects a strong stereotype, which assumes that domestic obligations rest exclusively on women. According to the Court, such notions are flawed and violate Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Women officers are more likely to face hazards of service as a result of their prolonged absence during pregnancy, motherhood, and family obligations. It is important to commemorate this judgment, which led to gender equality in the armed services.
Kajal Mukesh v. the State of Maharashtra (Right to choose profession)
The Bombay High Court, in the case of Kajal Mukesh v. the State of Maharashtra (2020), concluded that prostitution is not a violation of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. According to the Act, sexual abuse or exploitation of a person for commercial purposes is punishable. During the trial, the court decided that an adult woman is entitled to choose her profession, setting free three sex workers who had been arrested from a women’s hostel in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Hina Haneefa v. Union of India (Right of transgenders)
The case Hina Haneefa v. Union of India (2020) involved the question of whether transgender individuals were eligible for enlistment under Section 6 of the National Cadet Corps Act, 1948. Only males and females are eligible to enroll under Section 6 of the Act. According to the Kerala High Court, such discrimination is against the state’s policy regarding transgenders, and no one can be denied a legitimate right because they are a transgender. It had been ordered that the seat at the NCC unit of University College in Thiruvananthapuram be left vacant until the matter is resolved.
The Supreme Court then directed the Central and State governments to legally recognize third genders, so they can identify as males, females, or third genders. The Court ordered the government to take all necessary steps to provide health safety programs and legal protection to the third-gender community. Moreover, it urged the government to remove the taboo that revolves around the third gender from society.
The Supreme Court recognized that the third gender is equally recognized under the Indian Constitution, which advocates equality before the law for everyone. An individual can self-recognize their gender, according to the court. Moreover, even without a statutory basis, the third gender must receive complete recognition.
We cannot have a free and equal society until everyone is equally free. In the absence of equal rights for women, this inequality is a concern for everyone. A key component of sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security is the concept of gender equality and women empowerment. Several studies have shown that women’s rights are upheld and taken seriously when society as a whole benefit from this.
Since the past few years, we have seen several attempts designed and implemented to empower women in Indian society to alleviate their condition. Through legislation, women have had access to their constitutional and fundamental rights, which has proven to be one of the most effective ways of empowering women. The mere existence of laws is not enough if those for whom they are made are unaware and unable to use them effectively. That is where the legal empowerment of women comes into play. The majority of Indian women do not know their legal rights. Consequently, women have become easy victims of violations of basic and legal rights owing to this lack of awareness.
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