Laws leading to emergence of empowered women force
The moment one wants to correlate the provisions in the constitution, Indian legislature and relevant amendments with respect to restoring rights of women and the evolving trend of women empowerment in India then there are definite gaps but the positive stimulations with any enactment or amendment have contributed substantially with respect to various facades of women empowerment. Social changes or any type of transformation do not come overnight but the initiative towards the restoration of women rights is undertaken as far as enactments are concerned in form of awareness to begin with.
The pre independence scenario:
Tracing way back in time the barbaric tradition or custom of ‘sati’ that the young wife of the deceased was burnt alive ,was abolished during the British rule in 1829 ( the name of the great social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy is associated with this particular movement) and ultimately the incidence of Roop Kanwar in Rajasthan the Commission of Sati(Prevention Act) came into being in 1987.Iswarchandra Vidyasagar’s relentless efforts for improvement of the widowed women resulted in enactment of Widow Remarriage Act in 1856.In 1917 the first Women delegation voiced their entitlement of their political rights which was seconded by the Indian National congress and later on in 1929 the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed.
The post independence initiatives:
At the very outset article 14 to the Indian constitution all women are assured of equality where as article 15(1) propagates that no discrimination by the state to be made, article 16 guarantees equal opportunity while the right to get equal pay for equivalent work is laid down in article 39(1).Article 51(A) (e) objects to such practices which injures the dignity of women and article 42 ensures healthy working conditions and adequate maternity benefits. Unfortunately over the years substantial gaps have been noticed between those laid down in the Constitution and the stark reality but subsequent women movements, support of a various government and private agencies and various amendments have narrowed the gap and emergence of new empowered women force has left a substantial mark on the nation.
The Hindu personal laws in the mid 50s gave the daughters’ the right to inheritance only up to the share of the father in the property and the married daughter in spite of having marital disputes was not entitled for any residential accommodation at her father’s place. But the subsequent amendments to Hindu Laws in 2005 have provided the same status as the sons have. In 1987 The indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed to prevent indecent representation in advertisement or publication. In 1997 the Supreme Court took stern view on sexual harassment at workplace and later the national Commission for women elaborated on the court guidelines with respect to code of conduct of the employers. The Dowry Provision Act 1961 could not encounter the evil practices, so later on in 1985 The Dowry Prohibition rules were framed so that such practices were regarded equivalent to domestic violence.
When the various components of women empowerment are taken into account to asses any changes then the relevant indicators are changes in judicial and legal system, participation in decision making, mainstreaming gender perception in developmental course, economic empowerment, social empowerment, betterment of health facilities and provision of other support services. In this respect the most significant impact has been noted after the 73rd and 74th amendment (1993) to Indian constitution because equal participation and access to resources within the political framework of Panchayet Raj were ensured to the women. The women started contributing in giving shape to the implementation phase of National Women Policy at the very grass root level. The first instant impact was the enhancement of self esteem in women and their influencing role in intra house decision making. Let’s not brood just by staring at the empty part of a considerably filled glass but rather focus on further filling it.