Indian Democracy and Women's Human Rights

Article excerpt

Democracy is the most popular system of government in the contemporary world as it is based on the will of the people. Abraham Lincoln defined, 'democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people.' There are four main foundations of democracy viz, liberty, equality, fraternity and justice wherein the most important foundation is 'equality'. Among South Asian nations democracy for the first time was introduced in India. Democracy as a system of government was applied here after independence. The Indian constitution guarantees the equality of rights of men and women. It is evident that Indian constitution from the very beginning made provisions for the human rights of men and women together. (1) Indian democracy has from the very beginning provided to its citizens, male and female, the universal franchise which is sine qua non for the establishment of a real democracy.

Human Rights are those minimum rights which are compulsorily obtainable by every individual as he/she is a member of human family. The concept of human rights is related to the concept of human dignity. In this way all such rights which are essential for the maintenance of human dignity can be put in the category of human rights. (2) Human Rights can be divided on the basis of their nature into two categories as (i) civil and political rights and (ii) economic and social rights. Human Rights mean to provide all the rights and dignities to human being as human viz. right to life with dignity, right to liberty, right to equality, right to social security etc. Liberalism believes in the unity of mankind, therefore, the rights of men and women are the same but because of certain situational factors it is imperative to discuss the women's human rights separately. There are several reasons behind this: first, women are representing almost half of the worlds population; secondly, women are discriminated throughout the world in different spheres and at different stages; thirdly, women are supposed to carry out some special functions, therefore they needed human rights separately. The women's human rights can be categorized as under :

* Right to equality,

* Right to education,

* Right to life with dignity,

* Right to liberty,

* Political rights,

* Right to property,

* Right to equal opportunity for employment,

* Right to free choice of profession,

* Right to livelihood,

* Right to work in equitable condition,

* Right to get equal wages for equal work,

* Right to protection from gender discrimination,

* Right to social protection in the eventuality of retirement, old age and sickness,

* Right to protection from inhuman treatment,

* Right to protection of health,

* Right to privacy in terms of personal life, family, residence, correspondence etc. and

* Right to protection from society, state and family system.

II

It is imperative to provide equal opportunities to all sections of society in order to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions. Indian constitution has provided all the rights to the women equal to men. Women in India constitute about half of the total population. (3) The women's human rights have been elaborated in various provisions of the Part three of the Indian Constitution that is Fundamental Rights and Part four that is Directive Principles of State Policy. Main Provisions of the article can be described as under:

1. Article 14 states--'The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.' Thus article 14 guarantees to every person, male and female, the right to equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws.

2. The constitution makers unsatisfied with the general declaration of right to equality and conceding the prevalent bias in the country, provided in article 15 that 'State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them'. …