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UNEQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK: ARE WE COMPROMISING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN WORKERS?

By Mihir Shyam Asolekar


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Abstract
Articles 14, 15, and 16 in India’s Constitution are the ones that protect the Right to Equality against any sort of discrimination so that the Fundamental Rights can be guaranteed to individuals or groups. More specifically, the States are expected to be inspired by Articles 14, 15, 16 and Article 39 in India’s Constitution and ensure the equal treatment to all genders. Unfortunately, in the face of escalating industrialization and urbanization, the wages and work conditions, both, have been deteriorating for women. In highlighting this point, the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Air India v. Nargesh Meerza is cited, wherein the Supreme Court had held that “a woman shall not be denied employment merely on the ground that she is a woman as it amounts to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution” .
There is, however, no evidence of valuing a woman’s labour “equal” to that of a man in India’s rural communities, too. Traditionally, women have been given the role to birth, nurse children, cook, doing household chores as well as taking care of elderly family members by investing the physical and emotional labour on 24×7 basis – no matter whether the woman is educated or uneducated and employed or housemaker. Culturally, irrespective of the caste, religion, or the State, women are unconditionally and solely entrusted with the responsibility of household labour.
The rural woman and her counterpart in urban settings are no different, when it comes to expectations of the families from every woman to contribute to furthering the income of the respective families. Rural women would work all the time to run their homes as well as make efforts to support men in the family in agriculture or whatever activities engaged in by the family. Similarly, in cities, women are expected to search for some kind of job, so that her wages help making the two ends meet. In summary, the drudgery and pain of rural and urban women are of the same genre.
In the face of these facts, one may make a case for raising the wages for women across the board; but that can barely remedy the injustice to women. It is hypothesized in this research that the dignity for women can be restored alone by valuing their labour “equal” to the labour of men and “equal pay for equal work” will help in inculcating respect for women and “catalyse the cultural shift” in India’s male dominated social order.
In this research, an effort is made to map and track the inter-connections between wages, economic freedom and social and cultural evils hurting women in rural and urban India. In the recent times, unfortunately, illegal, and atrocious aggravations committed by family members and even workplace atrocities are on rise. This research intends to investigate if such aggravations can in fact be minimized by enforcing “equal pay for equal work”. An effort will also be made to investigate (in a cursory manner) if granting equal pay would in fact improve the “culture of equality and respect”. This research will rely upon some of the recent judgments pertaining to wages for woman’s work as well as some selected writings on socio-cultural dimensions of economic self-reliance of women.
Keywords
Rights, Equality, workplace, labour, discrimination.

TypeResearch Paper
InformationLex Humanitariae: Journal for a Change, Volume II issue IV, Pages 09-25
ISSN 2582-5216
Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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