gender inequality and constitutional rights of women to fight it


Dakshina Sogani, Amity Law School, Noida.

Gender inequality and constitutional rights of women to fight it

A woman is a female human being with a combination of chromosome “XX” and man is a male human being with a chromosome “XY”. They are the familiar genders of our society other than the third gender and rest to be found. On the biological ground there are a lotof differences in the making of a body of the man and the woman. Woman are so beautifully created and blessed with an ability to give birth to a new life and most importantly it isn’t possible without the help of a man. When we see it assiduously, we will find that how amazingly the life of two is entangled, one is not enough. Both has been given their separate task to accomplish a better life. This is how the life cycle has been created. A women is a daughter, amother, a wife, a grandmother but still people tends to find it troublesome to understand that one’s existence isn’t possible without the other. Even then the unequal treatment with the women and the third gender could be easily traced in our history. Man were meant to rule while women were meant to stay inside the house with the ‘Purdah System or Ghoonghat (a face covering worn by Indian women as a sign of respect). Women are not allowed to come in front of other man, they are not allowed to stay with family during menstruation, they are not allowed to work and so on. From the beginning as we could remember, the women have been given a subordinate position in the society after man or beneath them. They have been victim of rape , Jowhar ( an act of mass self-immolation by women) , Sati ( a practice in which a widow sacrifices herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre), female feticide( abortion of female fetus outside legal methods), sexual harassment, domestic violence , dowry violence and acid throwing and so on . Who made these rules and why women are supposed to abide by these rules? No matter how meticulously you study about all these customs and try to find answer there is no end or logical point of view. Such restrictions on women are made because of distinction in biology, psychology and cultural norms. Most of these unequal treatments is socially constructed parameters which also include discrimination in education, personality, family life, careers, and what not.

 What is gender?  

Gender is a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female. It is a range of characteristics related to and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity and other biological and social factor.

There is nowhere to found that one gender of our society is meant to dominate other. They both play an important role for the existence of the society, for the existence of each other. Gender inequality is one of the major issues faced by the women across different cultures in various countries. In India gender inequality or gender gap persistently a major concern despite achieving high rate of economic growth. Traditional customs and norms have given women the secondary platform after male limited to taking care of the household mostly and workplace. Gender inequality not only limits the growth of women in the society but it also troubles the future generation. India ranked 95th out of 129 countries in a new index that measures the Gender Gap Equalitylooking at aspects such as poverty, education, health, political representation, literacy and equality at workplace.


Constitution of India provides equally to all the citizens of India with the fundamental rights and equally impose duties to be followed. Each and every citizen irrespective of their color, caste, gender, status have been given these rights and duties and are to abide by Constitution of India

·       Article 14 of Indian constitution provides for EQUALITY BEFORE LAW:

This states that all the citizen of India shall be treated equally in the eyes of law and the equal protection of law within the territory of India irrespective of their caste, sex, religion, race or place of birth.

The phase equality before law clearly signifies that our constitution does not draw any difference between the women and the men of the society. They both are to be treated equally before law and provide equal protection.

·       Article 15 of Indian Constitution provides no discrimination by the state:

The state shall not discriminate any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, all or any of them. Article 15(3) specifically give power to the State to make any special provision for the women and children. The state shall not on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, all or any of them subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition give any citizen with regard to:

(a)   access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or

(b)  the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads and places of public resort which are maintained wholly or partly by State funds or give to the use of the general public.

·       Article 16 of Indian Constitution provides equal opportunity for public employment:

This fundamental right provides that there should be no discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, religion or place of birth, descent or residence or any of them for the employment in the public office under state. There shall be equal opportunity for employment or appointment to any office under state subject to the Parliament have the power to make law in regard to class or classes of employment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory further state also have powers to make laws for the backward classes of citizen which are in the opinion of state are not adequately represented.

·       Article 39(1)(a) and 39(1)(d) of Indian Constitution provides for certain principles:

The state shall direct its policy for securing men and women equally and they both have the right to an adequate livelihood. Further the men and women should have equal pay for equal work.

·       Article 51(A)(e) to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women:

It strictly prohibits practice of any act which is disrespectful to the dignity of the women in the society. The Sati practice which has been criminalized under SATI (PREVENTION) ACT,1987 and the termination of pregnancy under MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT, 1971. There have been major steps taken by the government of India to secure the position of women in the society however there are certain places where they still fail to act like

·       Article 42 The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief:

The State should provide human conditions at workplace or basic necessities at workplace. eg:- if you are working at construction site, you need to have boots, helmet, gloves etc. similarly you need to have water, sanitationetc. Similarly - For women are allowed to take 6-months of maternity leaves and will be paid full salary.


The Constitution of India provides equally for the rights of the women and the men. There has been no discrimination in the status of both the genders.All these Articles talks about equality, protection, respect but reality is still far away from the paper.

1.     Sunni and Shia Muslim personal law allows Muslim men to be married to multiple women, a practice known as polygamy i.e. up to four any one time.

2.     The goa law recognises the second marriage of “Gentile Hindu” man of Goa, if his previous wife does not have any children before age 25 or if she does not have a male child by 30.

3.     sexual intercourse without the consent of a girl is a rape, however, a man can sex with his wife under wedlock without her consent subject to she isn’t under age 15. Sex in a wedlock with the women above 15 without her consent is not considered marital rape. Does women above 15 have no choice or wish over their body. 

4.     The marriageable age for a man is minimum 21 years while for women it is 18 years. This is a patriarchal mindset that the women should be younger than the men.

5.     Parsi’s law of inheritance still penalize those who marries outside the community and it is allowed. A non- Parsi women who is either a widow or a wife of a Parsi man cannot inherit.

6.     The prohibition of child marriage act does not render them illegal at once instead the married children have the right to make the marriage void.

7.     Despite establishing of fast track courts, the rape cases in number are still pending.


The Indian Constitution has been embodied in all the important aspects. Being the lengthy constitution in the world it covers all majorly aspects for the better society. There have been recent cases where the women have been given their equal status in the society and are landmark cases:

1.     The recent leading case of Sabrimala temple was a breach of fundamental right of women under article 14 and 15 (3) of Indian Constitution not to enter the temple. However, the same has been declared violative and now women are allowed to enter.

2.     Hindu Succession Act, 1956 strictly provide that the discrimination against women that they only had a limited owner’ status, was put to end. They were given complete rights and powers regarding their property a power which the males already had under Hindu Law.

3.     Various Special acts have been made for the protection of the women

Despite so much effort of the Government the violence against women are still happening. We have are brutal cases of rape, sexual harassment at workplace and the list goes by. The question is when we have so many laws to protect the women in our society from being victimised for all such crimes then why still the cases of violence against women is not decreasing? The root issue is not we lack is provisions or punishment, the issue starts from home. The lack of literacy and awareness amongst people that how one act can make somebody’s life miserable is absence. The government should focus more on education and awareness regarding the safety of a women and importance of women in the society. Without the presence of a women the human race will end. People need to understand that man alone cannot survive. Women are also human being and deserve as much as men. Though they are considered to be weak in the eyes of the society but not forget we have out great leaders in the history who are women like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Razia Sultan and meera bai who even living in a dominating society make their life useful and fought courageously for our country. Women are not weak they devote their life to their families and they play an important role for the shaping of the society. The women themselves needs to understand their importance because the first school of every child begins at home. 
"Women shapes the society and future of society"

View Expressed are writers' work The topic discussed here is a brief of the subject matter and should not be substituted as proper legal advice. If a matter comes up under this topic then it is strictly advisable to consult a professional for advice and for the procedure and practice to be followed.


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