Status of Women Beyond Their Homes In India
A critical analysis of the status of women in India as it stands right now – the gender issues at different aspects of life – in the government, judiciary, corporate India – in terms of crime rates, malnourishment etc. that affect women in India is utmost necessary. Emphasis must be made on the highest court of the land – The Supreme Court – its justices on women.
The number is somewhat disappointing to be honest.
The Supreme Court has only two women Judges against a sanctioned strength of 34 Judges – meaning 5.8% of the Judges of the Supreme Court is women, and there has never been a female Chief Justice of India Attorney General, K. K. Venugopal on the 3rd of December said, “Improving representation of women in the judiciary could go a way more towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.”
Moreover, one of those two female Judges, Justice Indu Malhotra will retire on 13rd of March, leaving only a single female Judge among the Justices of the Supreme Court thereafter.
Concerns about how cases of sexual violence are dealt with, how much perspectives there need to be – all of these will improve with more female Judges on board. We are not of the opinion that the male judges have been sloppy or are managing it awfully, but obviously, empathy towards women in all cases appearing before the court will improve with more women judges involving in it.
The gender ratio among the High Courts of India are no better – 7.6% are women and 92.4% men; out of a total of 1,079 Judges altogether, 997 are men and 82 are women in the High Courts.
It’s important to take a glance at the entities who make the laws that have to be interpreted in our courts i.e. the Parliament, and the empathy, the amount of perspectives or the importance that women are given when these laws are written. 14.3% are women and almost 85.7% are men – the highest this country has ever had.
The current Parliament that we have – the second term of the Narendra Modi government – consists of 78 women members – the highest it has ever been. In the first Parliament back in 1951, the number of women representing in the Parliament was 5%, and it has gone up to 14.3%. Rajya Sabha has 27 women members i.e. 10%, and Lok Sabha is higher at 78 – the highest since Independence.
Not to forget, the women’s reservation bill had come up for debate with a massive deal which asked for 33% reservation for women in both houses of Parliament and in State legislatures.
It was a conversation about 33% population, a community which is half the population, but represented in an insignificant amount of 14% in our country’s Parliament. The State Assemblies are not any better; the average is about 11% – West Bengal being the highest at 13%, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala have 7%, 8%, 5% respectively.
There truly needs to be an overhaul of women representation in bodies of the lawmakers. Since laws or rules are written in our country, there must be women actively present in the room, because laws can’t be written about women without women physically being there. It’s undoubtedly an improvement from where we started off, as we have our finance minister who is a woman, but is that enough?
Most political parties will argue win-ability, that this is the case because women don’t win elections, but researches have shown how wrong that idea is. More women candidates tend to win elections. It has been evident globally that if a more diverse law-making body is included, with more Parliaments consisting women, the better the performance always is.
As far as corporate India is concerned, India’s representation of women in top managements is actually the third in the world, in terms of senior management. India has 39% of senior management who are women, with the global average of 31% affectively showing our performance to be better than the average.
We ranked 12th in the world in terms of the presence of women on boards of directors in our corporate space. 17% of the members of all the boards are women; while the figure is lower than the global average of 20%, it’s still fairly good.
We have a law in our country that requires that the boards include women and independent directors who are not in any way connected to the family that owns the business. While that’s a positive news, but observing closely makes us realise that 3.7% of the CEOs of companies listed on the national stock exchange are women, and only 29 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by senior women, with merely 5% as the CEOs.
As far as the large companies are concerned, there’s still a way to go. Focus must be made on the participation of women in STEM – which is affectively, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. India has an interesting statistic when it comes to STEM; about 43% of the graduates in the tech colleges are women, but only 14% of the STEM jobs in India are occupied by them.
In terms of labour force participation – meaning the number of women in India who are working – it’s 24.5% in 2016-2017, and 23.3% in 2018-2019 – which isn’t a great number as compared to 34% back in 1999.
We have, actually, plummeted from 34% to 24% women participation, which is extremely weird and worrying given the fact that according to the IMF the number of girls who enroll in higher education has surged from 39% in 2007 to 46% now. We have more girls finishing high school and going to college, but the number of women actually working has come down drastically.
The work force participation of 23% is the lowest among the BRIC countries as well; Malaysia, Bahrain and even Somalia have better numbers than us when it comes to women working.
The major reasons behind this, apparently, are family pressures, children nurturing, which indicates that there’s not enough child support from the workplaces, women are deprived of equal payments in the workplaces leading them to quit their jobs.
Because when the question of quitting a job arises in a family it’s invariably the women who has to walk out owing to the meagre amount of salaries they earn, and the thought of hiring somebody to look after the child seldom makes sense than asking a woman to quit her job and to stay at home instead.
We can go around forwarding WhatsApp messages saying “Happy Women’s Day to all the wonderful women in my life, office, college, building etc.” and that’s indeed appreciated, but there’s much more that needs to be done beyond that WhatsApp message; we need to push for more women in the government, for more women police officers and judges to have stronger voices.
We need to push for better education and nutrition for our girl children, to ensure that child menace doesn’t take place in this country. Only then we can go around merrily saying, “Happy Women’s Day”.
Mahabahu.com is an Online Magazine with collection of premium Assamese and English articles and posts with cultural base and modern thinking. You can send your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com ( For Assamese article, Unicode font is necessary)