MEN AND WOMEN BORN EQUAL
June 5, 2019
Gender is a socio cultural term referring socially defined roles and behaviors assigned to males and females in a society whereas the term sex is a biological and physiological phenomenon which defines men and women. In its social, cultural aspects, gender is a function of power relationship between men and women where men are considered superior to women. Therefore gender may be understood as a man made concept, while sex is natural and biological characteristics of human beings.
While increasing representation of women in public spheres is important and can potentially be attained though some form of affirmative action, an attitudinal shift is essential for women to consider them as equal within their homes and in broader society.
Article 15 of the constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex. Article 15(3) authorizes state to make special provision for women and children. Moreover directive principles of state policy also provide several provisions which are for the benefit of women and to save them from gender discrimination .Furthermore the parliament time to time brings amendments to existing laws to provide protection to women according to changing needs to society. Section 304(b) was added to the Indian penal code, 1860 to make dowry death or bride burning a specific offence punishable with maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
With patriarchy being so deeply entrenched both in our mindset and our laws ,Indians have long since accepted the current social situation as the default one .Even in the most progressive families, daughters are still entitled to far lesser than sons ,from playtime an education to choosing a life partner and inheriting property . No sooner than they are of age ,girls are expected to help out in household duties largely unpaid and unrecognized tasks that they are meant to fulfill throughout their lives ,this unequal distribution of resources and opposition continues in to adulthood with significant wage gaps and indiscriminate sexism in everyday affairs .Similarly , boys who grow up seeing their mothers unquestioningly handle all the household work will automatically grow up expecting their wives and daughters to follow the same . Denied of basic human rights like right to education, health and expression, her position in the society is that of a mute animal tied to a post in the house. She has been used and abused by society at large.
There is clearly a need for policy initiatives to empower women as gender disparities in India persist even against the back drop of economic growth. One unique policy experiment in village level mandated governance that mandated one third respectively for women in positions of local leadership has shown promising results .Evaluations of this affirmative action policy have found that in villages led by women, the performances of female residents are better. But it will be a long time before the status of women in this country undergoes a radical change.
And radical social change is required in India, if anyone has recently seen “On the Basis of Sex” the biopic of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a judge of the Supreme Court of United States will remember that how she talked about the American society changing long before the law. This is also not reflective of the pattern in India where there is a need for the legal fraternity to step up and call for changes. In India therefore we need organizations that fight for social change through the legal mechanism and therefore Law Colleges play an integral role as many times many of the cases that are not taken up by lawyers as such can be taken up by the Legal Aid Cells of these colleges for example how the Legal Aid Center and the PIL Center at Lloyd Law College,college for law are taking up the matter in the cases where change in society is required.
Lloyd Law College