Women Empowerment: Work Place Discrimination


This article was written by Akanksha Omar, a student of Galgotias University.

“Breaking down the gender barriers faced by women around the globe”

For the development of a country, development of women is needed as half of the population of the country belongs to women and if women of that country will not develop then a country cannot be developed. Women empowerment, status of women is important both for developing countries as well as developed countries. According to jawahar lal Nehru he said a condition of nation can be evaluated by examining the condition of women in that state. It is also being said that for every successful man, there is a hand of women. Women plays a very important role in the society, in a home as there are many roles of a woman. She acts as a wife, mother, daughter, sister. So we can conclude that without women, society is never complete. In every phase of life women rationality is needed by every person but then also they are not developed then how they able to take rational decisions will. They are the mother of the future generations of the nation therefore the developing of that future generation depends upon the level in which todays women is developed. Women empowerment is also needed for the economic development as when women will be employed they will be educated , it will reduce poverty , they will be able to provide good facilities to the children , they will be able to educate children and the further generations will also be developed.

Whole world is working to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world. Over the last century, women’s participation in the work force has increased steadily and dramatically. Women do not see improvements in job quality and their working conditions have not led to true social and economic empowerment, especially in the world’s poorer regions.[2]

Position of women has been fluctuating from time immemorial. In ancient India we witnessed that women enjoyed equal position to man in the society. There was no discrimination between men and women during early Vedic period. However in later Vedic period position of women deteriorated. During the Mughal rule, women were left with almost no rights as they were subjected to numerous restrictions like purdah system, no property rights, practice of muta marriage, polygamy etc.  It was actually post-Independence that the government realized the need to empower women in various sectors of the society. Prior to independence women were looked upon just as homemakers and mere support system of the family but with rapid modernization and liberalization, both, the society and the government realized and understood that the participation and empowerment of women is not just a demand of the growing society but also the need of our democracy

In order to eradicate this discrimination our constitution makers at the time of framing our constitution provided under article 14 and 15 that no person shall be discriminated on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth etc. Also the Ministry of women and child development, formed in 1985, under government of India works for the holistic development of women and children. It implements a number of innovative programs for women and children which cover welfare and support services, training for employment and income generation, awareness generation and gender sensitization Many women have developed this view that they should not be limited in the four walls of the society but they want to move out see the world. Take part in the commercial world, they wanted to be equal to the world.

When this view has come in the mind of many women and they are trying to developing and want to create a name in this world, when they wanted to create a separate identity in this world and are being employed. Then discrimination in the work place is not allowing them to develop. Discrimination with respect to wages, work, positions, sexual discrimination, harassment, protection, security leave is not being given to them.

  • Why this problem of discrimination arises?

 Discrimination can arise in a variety of work-related situations. These include access to employment and to particular occupations, and access to training and vocational guidance and support. Further, it can occur with respect to the terms and conditions of the employment, such as remuneration, hours of work and rest, paid holidays, maternity leave, security of tenure, advancement, social security, and occupational health and safety. It can also arise through harassment and victimization. Discrimination at work may occur in a range of settings; it can exist in a rural agricultural business or in an urban high technology environment.[3]

Sexual harassment – Where there are gender, ethnic or other tensions at work, harassment may take place. Women in particular are subjected to widespread harassment.[4]

Maternity protection – In order to effectively participate in the workforce and not suffer discrimination, it is essential for women to receive particular protections in relation to maternity, childbirth, and breastfeeding.[5]

In today world also in many countries laws are still made which suppress the rights of a women, they are not having same legal rights as men are having. in these countries these laws take the rights of a women to divorce, to obtain guardianship of their children in case of divorce, inheritance rights of their property, they are not even protected for child marriage, they even also not get physical protection when they are abused and gender based violence is done to them. For example, Lebanon, women are unable to seek divorce in the case of physical abuse unless there is an eyewitness to testify on her behalf.

  • Why does  a  problem  of  work  place  discrimination  exist  in  the  society?

This problem of women work place discrimination in the society exists of many factors. In my opinion the foremost factor is that equality is not considered as a priority in the society. The word equality is not given its importance, the importance which it should have been given. Another think is expectations of a women to be a mother, it is believed that to be pregnant is the foremost duty of a lady, it is a common belief that women are only there for taking care of household and giving birth to children. Our society is so much being changed , we say that women are being educated nowadays , it is a positive perspective towards women empowerment , they also get better grades than men , then also they get less pay then men, no reason to justify it. The discrimination is also done in hiring, firing and promotional activities in an organization due to the belief that men in more need to be paid as they have to take care of the family, they require promotion for their status. The most important reason for women discrimination is sexual harassment and pregnancy issues of a women. The women in the society are considered as a sexual objects and it is believed that they are only for this sole purpose. The mentality of people has not being changed till yet, they say that thy have developed and become open minded but at last they stick to their own narrow view. The most important the pregnancy issue the maternity issue as it has become a biggest barrier in her success which it should not be.  It is considered that it is a biggest gift to a women when she becomes pregnant, there are sayings that it is the second birth of a women when she gives birth to a child. But when it comes to her career it is a barrier as it not allows her to work , companies does not trust women as a long term employees because they think that they will leave the job as they will get pregnant. Proper facilities for their child care have not been made in the companies even sufficient maternity leaves are not being provided by the organizations.

The most important key factor in my opinion for this women work place discrimination in the society is the mentality of people living in this society, the mentality of people who are organizing this society the organizations in which women work, the mentality of people who work in these organizations.

As soon as this mentality of people will change, the discrimination in work place as well as on the whole society will be eliminated.

  • Why the problem of work place discrimination is not being eliminated even after making so many laws?

The problem is not being eliminated even after making so many laws as there is no awareness of these laws in the society. Women are not aware of these remedies which are given to them so that they can be treated as equal. There are not sufficient ways so that these information’s regarding discrimination can be made to them. A proper implementation is also being needed by the state so that these laws can be strictly followed. Laws are being made, an order is also being passed to follow it by the organizations and society, but only 10% of organizations implement it in their policy even if they implement they do not follow. Even when women know about their rights and remedies when they are discriminated they did not fight for it , as they did not want to be busy in legal and judicial process, they don’t want to undergo the intricacies of the judicial process. They need a simple life and don’t want problems in society. They don’t want to be the center of attraction, therefore they never fight for their rights and file a case.

In the society, women discrimination exist as there is a stereotype view of people in the society. The difference between in gender has many severe consequences such as unequal pay and unequal work exist which lead to sexual harassment to lack of promotions in the society. Many laws are made in the society to avoid this work place discrimination but its negative effect is still prevailing. This discrimination is done because there are stereotypes view which lead to this discrimination. The most stereotype view is that women don’t need equal pay because they are married. They have a husband who can take care of their needs.it is presumed that they will not work properly and will not able to give its full commitment as some unavoidable duties will arise to them like taking care of the household and family. Women are not given jobs because of the common stereotype that they are sexual objects and they are only used for sexual harassment. In most of the companies hiring of women is only done by seeing their face that whether they are beautiful, pretty or not. If they are not they are not given the job as they are solely needed to display to the outsiders so that customers get attracted to it. Another stereotyped view is of Pregnancy discrimination. It is believed in the society that women are for not long term investment as they are doing this job for fun and as soon as they will get pregnant they will leave the job. There are many reasons as such work place discrimination in the society is done.

Gender equality is essential for the achievement of human rights for all. Yet discriminatory laws against women persist in every corner of the globe and new discriminatory laws are enacted. In all legal traditions many laws continue to institutionalize second class status for women and girls with regard to nationality and citizenship, health, education, marital rights, employment rights, parental rights, inheritance and property rights. These forms of discrimination against women are incompatible with women’s empowerment.[6]

Women form the majority of the world’s poorest people and the number of women living in rural poverty has increased by 50% since 1975. Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property[7]

To the effect of that women lose motivation and necessary to perform their jobs effectively. Women who have young children at home may experience push-back when interviewing due to family responsibilities. Although law prohibits a prospective employer from asking about family responsibility outright, it often comes out during the interview process anyway. This may provoke the hiring manager to pass over a qualified female candidate if he feels she will be torn between her home and job responsibilities.

  • How women discrimination can be removed?

The very important to remove work place discrimination is equality. If every girl will be treated equal to boys from the beginning then no gender discrimination will be there. The main weapon for women empowerment is education. If people will get educated the stereotype view of them will be removed, they will have an open mind thinking. The girl education will help them to come equal to boys and help them to take part in every activity in which boys are considered leading.

We have many laws which help in women empowerment, protecting women for dowry death, domestic violence. Work place discrimination, sexual harassment cases but in spite of these many reports get registered every year. This is due to that strict implementation of laws is not there. Government should made strict laws for implanting them. The women’s are not given chance to take decisions in the society, despite of they have good decision making skills. We should give women to take decision in home, politics and society.

We have to change our men dominating mentality and should give chances to women to get involved in various social and political issues and also give their own view on that. By this way we can stop gender discrimination and encourage women to achieve equality in all aspects of their life.[8]

  • Are there any Government Intake on Position of Women?

One of the most important tasks of the democratic government was to repeal laws and policies that discriminated against women. These laws and policies give women rights that they were previously denied.

New laws such as the Employment Equity Act, the Labour Relations Act and the policy of affirmative action, mean that employers (in the public and private sector) must introduce programs, which ensure the representation of women in all professions and job grades, at equal pay and guarantees maternity rights.

Government is also working to ensure that gender issues are mainstreamed in all its programs and structures, and has created a gender machinery to monitor and advise government. This consists of the Offices on the Status of Women in the Presidency, Premiers and Mayoral offices, the Commission for Gender Equality, gender desks in departments and gender committees in Parliament and Legislatures.[9]

Work place discrimination can be removed by using legal alternatives such as many laws are made for the cases of sexual harassment using media (in today world media plays a very important role in the life of the people, media is the only thing which people trust to, it acts as a mode between the state and the common man, media creates awareness among the people of the society, it tells the new laws made for the people and also provide feedback to the state about the laws) When injustice is done to a women, she can take the help of media to get justice ,media always help the women and stays always in the side of a woman. Another alternative is making connections with the other feminists, there are made many non-governmental organizations and many other social service organizations which help the women to get justice if women discrimination is done and helps the women who approach these organizations. Another method is that women should push for gender balance., the more women are in the senior management , the greater the chance of increasing the number of feminists in decision making process, and the more feminists in leadership positions the better positions of all working women. The last alternative and the best alternative according to my opinion is explode the myths. Many women have been discouraged from “going for the top” by a set of myths that women are not suited for top management or that the problem is being solved gradually. These myths work to keep women in their place and to justify the lack of progress for women. Worse yet, these myths often place blame on women rather than sex discrimination.

  • Critical View

In my opinion because of this qualified women are not receiving what they deserve. They deserve a higher value of pay and positions which they are not getting. It is becoming a barrier to their success. According to me this topic is to be researched to stop this discrimination in the society so we can attain equality in real terms, the word which we talk about from ever since but has been never attained in the society. Ultimately it is the organizations and women who suffer as organizations as they are not able to develop and retain the best talent which is the key to success in global world and the women who did not get equal opportunities to make their carrier.

This discrimination is more abundant in corporate world , for example a stereotype view is there that women cannot hold a sale jobs as they will have to travel to unknown places, they have to work late nights and have to make a contact with many unknown people. It is also not safe job as a women perspective as people take undue advantage of women.

This type of discrimination in the society is unacceptable and unlawful. Causes of this discrimination are – men dominating mentality, various social and religious belief, lack of strong protest by women, family rituals, and physical factor (treating women as weaker gender)

The sexual discrimination which results in sexual harassment is also violate of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under article 14 and 15 of constitution of India and to life and live with dignity under article 21 of constitution and right to practice any profession, carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.[10]

And whereas the protection against sexual harassment and to right to work with dignity are universally recognized human rights by international conventions and instruments such as convention on all forms of discrimination against women, which has been ratified on 25th June,1993 by the government of India.[11]

[1]Akanksha Omar, Student , , BBA+LLB(H) 3rd year, Galgotias University School of Law , E-mail: akankshaomar25@gmail.com, Contact – No : 7827459833, Address : 48/46 General Ganj, Kanpur – Uttar Pradesh  (208001)

[2] Maitreyi Krishnan, sexual harassment law , http://www.indiaseminar.com/2008/583/583_maitreyi_and_ponni.htm, November 1,2015, 5:45 PM

[3] Hemanta Saikia , Transformation and Rural Gender Discrimination and women empowerment , http://www.researchgate.net/publication/256454510_Transformation_of_Rural_Gender_Discrimination_and_Womens_Empowerment_in_Assam , October 25,2015 , 1:30 PM

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] Anonymous, combating Discrimination against women http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/DiscriminationAgainstWomen.aspx, October 25,2015 , 5:20 PM

[7] All figures provided by the World Bank’s World Development Indicators.

[8] Supra note at 8

[9] ETU, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment , http://www.etu.org.za/toolbox/docs/government/gender.html, October 31,2015 , 5:40PM

[10] The sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressed ) act ,2013

[11] ibid

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