In the context of special provisions provided for certain classes under the Constitution, it needs to be remembered that, women as a class neither belong to a minority group nor are they taken as a backward class. But it’s a fact that in the male dominated Indian society women suffer from distinct social and economic disabilities. In this context the constitution, provides certain provisions for protection of the rights of women.
These provisions are –
- Art. 15(3) is a permissive provision, which authorises the state to make special provision for women.
- Arts. 14, 15(2) and 16(2) are general provisions which outlaw any kind of gender discrimination against women.
- Art. 23 keeping in mind the evil practice of prostitution and trade in women prohibits traffic in women.
- Under Art. 39(c)(d) and (e) casts a duty on the State to chalk out specific policies to ensure adequate means of livelihood of women, equal pay for equal work for both men and women and protecting the health and strength of women workforce.
- Under Art. 42 the State is obliged to make provision for providing maternity relief to women workforce.
- Under Art. 51 A(e) it’s the duty of every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
National Commission for Women
With the intention of the protection and upliftment of the general social condition of women in the country, Parliament enacted the National Commission for Women Act, 1990. Through this established the National Commission for Women (NCW). Composition
- A Chairperson, committed to the cause of women. Presently Mrs. Girija Vyas is the Chairperson of the Commission.
- Five members, nominated from amongst persons having experience in law, trade, unionism, management of an industry, administration, economic development, health, education, social welfare, women’s voluntary organisations;
- A member-secretary who is either a member of a civil service under the Centre, or an expert in the field of management, sociological movement.
All these persons are appointed by the Central Government and hold office for three years.
- To constitute committees as may be necessary to deal with special issues taken up by the Commission from time to time.
- It has the power to regulate its own procedure and has the power of a civil court in matters like summoning witnesses.
- Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws;
- Present annual and other reports to the Central Government concerning the working of these safeguards with recommendations for their effective implementation;
- Review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the constitution and other laws affecting women and recommend necessary amendments thereto;
- Take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities;
- Look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights, non-implementation of laws providing protection to women etc.
- undertake promotional and educational research to explore ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identify factors responsible for poor social and economic status of women;
- participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of women;
- inspect or cause to be inspected the places where women are kept in custody and suggest any remedial measures as necessary;
- fund litigation involving issues affecting women.
The Central Government is required to lay before the two Houses of Parliament all the reports sent to it by the Commission, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken. If a recommendation relates to State Government, it is sent to the concerned state, which follows a similar procedure as at the Centre.
The Commission meets all the expenses including salaries and allowances from the grants made available to it by the Central Government.