GENDER JUSTICE AND FEMINISM
Women like men are the best creation of the world. God created women from the stuff of the first man. Men and women complete the human personality. In Hindu Mythology women are termed as Ardhangini and westerners honour them by calling them as Better Half. In early age and more particularly in matriarchal society women enjoyed dignified and respectful status. The concept of “Mother Goddess” was the eternal symbol of life. Women like earth give life, sustenance and strength to humanity. In Vedic period women enjoyed status equal to men. The great women like Lopmudra, Viswara, Gargi, Atreyi, Indrani etc. had excelled in art, music, dance and in battle field.
But, the equality in status did not last for long. By and by matriarchal society give way to patriarchal society. The superiority of men over the women was established. Biological construction of men gave them economic dominance and by women became so dependent on men as to be relegated to the position of bondage. A conflict in ideology and actuality became apparent. This dualism is apparent in Manu smriti. Idealism speaks Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devata. But, actuality was shown in observation that a woman is never independent. In her childhood, she is dependent on her father, in youth she is dependent on her husband and in old age she is dependent on her son. She became first daughter next the wife and last the mother of a person without distinct entity of her own.
The women of position still worsened. In Mahabharat, it became a debatable issue whether women had an existence as a human being with dignity or she was a mere chattel. The episode of Dropadi being put as a pawn in gamble raised serious doubt as to the status of woman. The role of women was restricted within four walls of the house and domestic affairs. The economic dependence of woman degraded their position and subjected them to exploitation and torture. Foreign invasion further deteriorated their position with mark of general killing of baby girls, condemnation of widows, polygamy and system of Devdasi in Hindu temples in southern states of India. In a nutshell, the position of women was just like a despised and depressed classes of the people.
The status of women has been and still is that of subordination. Their personality was treated as having been merged with the personality of their husbands. They could not own property in their name. They did not have voting right. With the march of civilisation reforms became
imperative. The women were given the voting right and legal personality of their own with right to sue or be sued.
The concept of Gender Justice implicates termination of inequalities between women and men that are created in the family, in the community and the state. And while talking about the term Feminism, is a rove of political and social movements and ideologies and shares a common interest to determine, achieve and provide the economic, personal, political and social rights for women that are equal those of men. The group of people who support this ideology are known as Feminist. There is a misconception among the people about Feminism. They think that it is a movement to provide women more rights than men but in reality, Feminism is an ideology which talks about the providing the rights to women equal to men not more or less than.
With the passage of time, as more and more people got aware about the concept of Gender Justice and Feminism, there can be seen reforms which uplift the condition of women in the society.
In India, even Britishers passed many laws to recognise and save the status and interest of women. Sati Pratha Abolition Act,1829, Hindu Widow Remarriage Act,1856; Female Infanticide Act,1870 and Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act,1939 are prominent among them. In post-independence era gender biased has been tried to be eradicated. The constitution itself prohibits discrimination on the ground of sex. It enables state to make protective measures for women, maternity care, equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex. And, now Article 51-A(e) imposes fundamental duty on every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Article 325 prohibits imposing of any ineligibility for inclusion of name in electoral role on the ground of sex.
In post constitution period the governments have been guided by Article 15(3) which speaks of making special provisions for women. A number of laws have been enacted to protect the women from still continuing evil practices and preconceived unjust societal attitude. For example, with a view to check glorification of Sati, commission of Sati Prevention Act,1987; with a view to eradicate evil practice in name of religion, A.P. Devadasi (prohibition of dedication) Act,1988; with a view to save the honour of women, Indecent Representation of Women(Prohibition) Act,1986 and with a view to check the practice of killing girls in womb, the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection)
Act,1994 have been enacted. Parliament enacted protection of women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 providing for monetary relief to the victims of domestic violence along with other rehabilitative measures.
The deplorable position of women has attracted the Human Rights approach. In addition to 23 main Human Rights conventions of general nature UNO has adopted five conventions exclusively dealing with women, that is to say, Convention on elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Conventions on Political Rights of Women; Convention on Consent of Marriage, Minimum Age of Marriage and Registration of Marriage; Convention on Nationality of Married Women and Convention on the Recovery Board of Maintenance.
The violation of human rights takes many forms, for example, sexual and physical assault and harassment, female foeticide and infanticide, female circumcision and dowry deaths, sati and denial of her autonomy and authority over her body. The economic compulsion of women lead to many chances of exploitation like (i) impoverishment of community and debt repayment lead to migrant women labour thereby to victimization of women through sexual assault and trafficking of women across borders, violence and slavery; and (ii) boosting national economy through tourism that in turn fosters prostitution and spawn the sex industry
Keeping in view injustices to women now, there is emergence if feminist jurisprudence and gender justice. the courts are taking the front seat in the journey of restoration of dignity of the women. Indian Judiciary has played a pivotal role in establishing the equality of status of women protecting then from exploitation – sexual or otherwise. Feminism and Gender Justice goes in hand- in -hand. The ideology of Feminism is to provide women the equal status as men and establish Gender Justice in our society.
Many laws have been enacted to restore the equal position of women with men. Many efforts have been made to enforce the dignity of women by making stringent punishment for dowry death but, due to the lack of commitment and societal awareness no meaningful objective is achieved. The blocking of the passing of reservation bill for women in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha on one pretext or the other is obvious example but, Gender Justice will be enforced and it can not be blocked for long.
It has been realised since long that in view of making women empowerment more effective women’s participation in political branches, more especially in Legislative body is a must. Now
women have a say in village Panchayats and Municipalities and one-third seats as to members and chairperson is ensured by the Constitution 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts. There is also provision for reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs women in proportion to their population. There is provision for reservation within reservation for Panchayat and municipalities but same is not true of women representation in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. Parliamentary efforts in 1996 (81st Amendment Bill), in 1998 984th Amendment Bill), in 1999 (Constitution 85th Amendment, Bill) could not succeed due to disagreement among the political parties. Again on 6th May 2008 the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha which aims at eliminating gender inequality and discrimination against women. The proposed bill seeks
1. Reservation for women, as nearly as may be, one-third seat of the present strength of the house of the people and the Legislative Assembly.
2. To provide, as nearly as may be, one-third reservation for women including one third the number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assembly of every state to be reserved for women of that category.
3. To provide for reservation for women in respect of nominations of members of Anglo Indian Community in the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the States
4. To provide for reservation for women in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital of territory of Delhi. The life of reservation of women will be 15 years from the enactment of the bill. The standing committee was constituted to examine the bill. But bill is not out of blemishes. One fails to understand if OBCs women could find reservation in panchayats and municipalities, why have been they denied it in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha? The bill is still awaiting Parliamentary approval inspite of all assurance of the major political parties it could not be passed in 2013. Any way if the bill is passed and constitution is duly amended, it will boost the cause of the amelioration of the Women Conditions.
Feminism waive in today’s world has come up really positive. Because it showed how unequal society was when it came to gender. Women get treated unfairly across the world every single day. Hence, as change, we would use more women in government positions, more publicity of women sports, more management positions for women in the offices or work places. In addition, women are really giving good results.
Still, it’s yet more long to go because still women lack equality in same place and feminism have to reach every inch of world. No body feels small, or ignored, or forgotten or persecuted. That would be an aspect of an adequate conclusion to feminism. As we can see, in our society there were many reforms to make people aware about feminism, with advent and enforcement of feminism in our country will automatically create an environment for gender justice.
By :- Chitrarekha Bharadwaj & Pallavi Karamchandani