This article is written by Saniya Chand and Kritika Anand from UPES, Dehradun and the article is edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders).

Introduction

The relationship between female labour force participation and development is complex, including changes in economic growth, education, fertility rates, social standards, and other factors. However, women’s labour participation rates only tell part of the storey. Understanding women’s employment is crucial. Policies should target both labour demand and supply to improve job quality. Expanding secondary school education is important, but so is creating jobs that women can access. One of the most important things would be that the women who are dealing with the issue of women’s rights and advantages in India are doing so in a positive way. From ancient times to the present day, women have struggled to achieve social prestige and a respected position in society. At the time, Women in India were in desperate need of laws to enhance their social standing and to ensure sufficient protection against physically and mentally torture.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar made a lot of excellent and necessary actions towards Indian women at the time. Thanks to our constitution and the struggles of Indian women, Indian women have won respect in society. So, they are treated equally with men in all facets of life. The constitution guarantees women’s equality and empowers the nation to take positive initiatives in their favour.

The Indian Constitution specifies that women must be recognized on an equal footing with males and outlaws any form of discrimination towards women in any sector, especially education, vocational courses, skill development, and employment opportunities. Furthermore, our Constitution ensures the protection of women employees by guaranteeing that their health & security while on the job, particularly those of women who are pregnant, is adequately protected.

The Constitution also safeguards women employees’ integrity by mandating them to work in a safe atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment. To carry out the constitutional obligation, all labour regulations include special provisions relevant to female workers’ health and safety, such as limiting their working hours and reducing their load. New law protects employees against sexual assault at work.

Factors affecting the employment of women

Numerous barriers work against women’s access to employment, economic empowerment and socio-economic fortunes. Education is a very critical factor in advancing women’s employment and socio-economic involvement. The various socio-economic factors are mentioned below:

1) Social Behaviour is the most important factor, and it is also the most accountable for female unemployment. This mentality, which prevents women from seeking employment, stems from a long-standing cultural tradition. It made them remain home and care for the family. Women’s work is largely constrained by social attitude and perception. (Women working outside the home are unsuitable, undesirable, and potentially damaging to their chastity and femininity virtues.)

2) Families still believe that daughters should not be permitted to earn an income. If they are allowed to work, their wages will not be utilised to maintain the family. Fathers are reluctant to let their daughters work and to use their money to help pay for household expenses. Girls are usually discouraged from leaving town for school or work (Again economic compulsions are weakening such traditions and customs but not enough to mend them). Women are either forbidden from obtaining job or are legally prohibited from doing so. For instance, in India, women are not allowed to drive taxis, trucks, or cars due to safety concerns. Women are involved in society, but not in construction.

3) In modern society, marriage has a negative impact on a woman’s ability to find work. Therefore, she enters the job market late or returns to the market after a period of time because they have occasionally had to leave their jobs due to marriage. For females, this particular custom takes precedence over everything else, and marriage is the first priority in their lives as a consequence of which they leave their jobs and face the difficulty of re-entry and otherwise late entry into the labour market as a result.

4) Female domestic responsibilities have been women’s primary responsibilities since ancient times, as though they were created for this purpose. It has a negative impact on one’s employment prospects. They are only required to perform those tasks that will allow them to devote sufficient time to household responsibilities. Women attempt to avoid job assignments that interfere with their household activities and schedule, which can have a negative impact on their opportunities for advancement and employment.

5) Workers’ employment is hindered by a lack of mobility, which might be caused by domestic tasks or inadequacy in child care arrangements. While occupational diversity and mobility are not particularly tough propositions for males, they are extremely difficult propositions for women. Women are unable to simply relocate due to family obligations and a lack of professional skills. When males leave, however, all of the family obligations fall on the shoulders of the women. Women are physically and mentally immobile in terms of location, time, and energy. Likewise, their movement in terms of time is restricted throughout pregnancy and for the first few months following the birth of the child.

6) Indian society has a long-standing tradition of entrusting female children with the responsibility of caring for their younger siblings, whether partially or fully. Female children are often asked to care for their younger siblings even when they are still children themselves. The responsibility of bearing and raising kids forces people to make compromises in their professional lives.

7) The way female children are raised in our society, particularly in rural and small-town settings, leads to their becoming reliant on males. Even as adults, females rely on a male member of their family to accompany them on their travels. It forces people to remain limited to their current location, so limiting their employment choices and options for advancement.

8) In terms of safety and security, women who accept jobs outside of their hometown confront the challenge of finding safe and secure housing. Many employed people who have transferable jobs find it extremely difficult to relocate because they are concerned that they will not be able to find suitable housing in their new location. As a result, women attempt to escape this predicament at the expense of their employment, and there are only a limited number of working women’s hostels available. They like to work in their local area if it is an option. It becomes an obstacle to women’s ability to obtain a gainful job.

9) For the obvious fact that when boys marry, they eventually become the principal breadwinners in their own families, Indians continue to place a higher value on their education and occupations than those of girls. In Indian society, investing in male children’s education takes precedence over other investments. Female children are rarely given preference when it comes to educational opportunities, particularly at the higher level.

10) job-oriented courses of a fundamental kind are often favoured by females over males in terms of training. A huge number of women are enrolled in technical colleges, boutique & fabric painting, and other such elementary courses that prepare them for low-wage positions in the secondary labour market. Female career advancement is therefore often restricted as a result of this. Especially in the business sector, there aren’t many programmes that are specifically designed for women.

11) Women are less likely than men to be unionised because they have a double burden of duty. Women workers are particularly vulnerable due to a lack of unionisation, which does not motivate them to struggle against sex-based issues such as discrimination in promotion & training courses. As a consequence, discrimination against women in India was unable to be completely eliminated.

12) The belief that women are not the major breadwinners in their families and that they merely offer supplemental income has resulted in widespread exploitation of women. Women have been relegated to lower-level positions as a result of the poor wages they receive. Women teachers in small towns and cities are paid less than the min wage that is paid to male employees in these areas. Wage discrimination discourages people from focusing on their performance, and as a result, their career advancement is stymied.

13) Women who work as a supplement to their family’s income do so when the family’s economic situation requires it or warrants it, and they leave when the family’s financial situation allows it. Women work when their families are experiencing financial difficulties; they are requested to provide a helping hand to ensure the family’s survival. Women work solely for the benefit of their families, instead of for their personal benefit and sustenance. Females enter the labour force when men’s earnings become inconsistent, inadequate, or withheld from them. Women’s ability to be flexible in the labour market is limited by the option of recruitment exercised by the family.

14) Gender-Based Discrimination Labour: The division of labour based on gender, which has spread beyond household duties to work full time in recent years. In agriculture, women are primarily engaged in labour-intensive jobs that are physically demanding, repetitive, and low-paying in nature. The division of labour on the basis of gender can be observed even in industries where women are employed in significant numbers, such as textiles, export-oriented industries such as apparel, electronics, and the building and construction industries. Despite the fact that India has a huge number of labour regulations, these rules tend to neglect the experiences of women and have a paternalistic outlook on life.

15) Social Security Measures for Women: Social security is a crucial requirement for all women, regardless of the type of employment in which they are employed and the hours that they work. When it comes to employment, women are subjected to a variety of variables, including sickness, maternity, disability, job uncertainties, and hazards. Through the improvement of working and living conditions as well as the provision of women with security against the uncertainty of the future, they contribute significantly to the realisation of the welfare state goal.

Provisions for women

Sexual misbehaviour is a form of violence in which another person is harmed by the use of power, control, and/or intimidation. Sexual assault, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, dating violence, & stalking all fall under this category. It occurs when consent is not given. Consent is a freely offered and unambiguous consent, not the absence of a no, and it cannot be obtained if a person is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Sexual misconduct is viewed as a breach of fundamental freedom and justice as well as a discriminating issue affecting health and safety. It is fundamentally insulting and threatens the rights of women to equality of opportunity and treatment at work. The most important approach should be to avoid such harassment; but, if it does occur, it should be punished as well as the victim should be well protected.

The provisions for women are described as follows:

  • The Maternity Benefit Act was enacted to reduce disparities and introduce standardization to the rates, qualification conditions, & length of maternity benefits. The Act also completely negates the Mines Maternity Benefit Act, the Bombay Maternity Benefit Act, the Plantation Labour Act, and any other provincial enactments on the same issue.
  • The Workmen’s Compensation Act is a federal law that provides for the compensation of injured workers. Specifically, it deals with matters where an accident or disease happens at the workplace, resulting in the death or handicap of women workers. This includes financial losses as well as the loss of housekeeping duties. In the event of death, the amount of compensation is equivalent to 50 % of the monthly income or an amount equal to Rs 80,000, whichever is higher, as compensation. However, the legislation that applies to women workers will be the primary focus of our discussion.
  • The Minimum Wages Act is largely intended to protect employees in the developing world, which accounts for the vast bulk of women’s employment. Its purpose is to provide statutory minimum wages for scheduled employments in order to reduce the likelihood of labour being exploited through the payment of very cheap and sweaty wages, among other things. It also defines the minimum regular working time, the weekly rest day, and the possibility of overtime.

This Act was passed to govern the salaries and wages to people employed in industry and provide them with a swift and efficient remedy in the event of illegal deductions from their salaries or unjustifiable delays in the payment of their wages. In the context of wages, any sums of money or benefits payable to an employee include, but are not limited to, any sums due upon leaving the service, wages in replacement of vacations or leave, overtime earnings, and any bonuses due. (This does not include the value of any dwelling accommodations, the provision of light, drinking, medical care, contributions to any pension plans, travel, or any other expenses.)

  • Auxiliary Principles of State Policy, Part IV of the Equal Remuneration Act. For example, Article 39 of the Constitution mandates that the state lead policy and those employers pay the same compensation to men’s and women who perform the same or similar work. The Law now covers almost every sort of facility, a considerable expansion. Even if the work is being done in separate locations, the compensation must be the same. If employment of woman is outlawed or restricted by law, a company is not permitted to discriminate against them when recruiting new employees. As a result, employers are forbidden from sex discrimination in things like as recruiting, promotion, training, and transfer.

Important case laws

Some the important case laws affecting the employment of women are mentioned below:

AIR INDIA v NARGESH MEERZA

Specifically, the court found that the terminating of service due to pregnancy was unjustified and arbitrary, and as a result, it was a clear violation of a basic right protected by Article 14. It is equivalent to requiring the underprivileged airline employee to not have children after she has taken up duty and after she has used her services for 4 years to discontinue her employment if she becomes pregnant, and thereby interferes with and diverts the ordinary flow of human nature.

DATTATREYA MOTIRAM VS STATE OF BOMBAY:

According to Chief Justice Chagla, the state could discriminate in support of equality against men under Article 15(1) and 15(3), but it cannot discriminate in favour of men over women.

MRS. SIVANARUL VS STATE OF TAMIL NADU:

On the basis of a clause in her employment contract, the court found that a decision to terminate the services of a lady teacher working in a private school that was recognised & aided by the government because she had become engaged was not only annoying, but also contrary to public policy and unjust.

MOHINI PHILIP VS UNION OF INDIA

The petitioner, a medical officer in the military, was discharged and relieved of duty due to her marriage to another service member. The court ruled that granting the discharge simply on the basis of marriage ignored all relevant factors. As a result, the order was irrational, and the termination decision was invalid. In addition, a circular that does not violate Articles 14 and 16 is provided for.

Conclusion

The study concluded that women’s integrity in society is a reliable measure of society’s advancement. Women currently work in agricultural, plantations work, mine beedi, crafts, and at home. However, social views, traditions, conventions, marriage, gender-based division of labour, lack of confidence, and fear of sexual harassment all contribute to women falling further behind males.

Women workers face numerous obstacles on the job, such low pay, discrimination, and unsafe working conditions. Women’s working and living standards will not improve unless they are protected and governments pay due attention to their oppressive living and working conditions. In the Indian Constitution, it is stated that special care has been given to women’s needs so that they can speak up for their rights equally and contribute to national progress. The building of a new social order whereby all citizens possess equal opportunities for development is also envisaged.

The various specific measures established for the welfare of women, both on a national and international scale, show a tendency towards women’s empowerment in employment legislation. With time, India has made great progress toward equal pay, fair opportunity, preventing and resolving sexual harassment, and providing maternity benefits.

Despite the fact that women make up half the world’s population, gender imbalance remains everywhere. So long as women are denied the same possibilities as males, entire communities will be bound to underperform. Another hour is needed to change social attitudes. Women are unable to dedicate adequate attention to their houses, children, and families. Working women face sexual harassment, emotional stress, and job insecurity. Women struggle to leave their children and go to work early. Stereotypes are people who have preconceived notions about the personality of working women.


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