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Problems faced by Working Women

 
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Senior Legal Asso...

“Nature has given women too much power, the law gives them too little.”

In the contemporary world, women no longer lag behind in terms of career. They are keeping themselves shoulder to shoulder with opposite sex. However, even today they are expected to do multi tasking. They have to take care of family and household even if they are working. Working women refers to those in paid employment. They work as lawyers, nurses, doctors, teachers and secretaries etc. There is no profession today where women are not employed. However, it is true that working women have to face problems by virtue of their sex.

For centuries, women have been subjected to exploitation and torture physically, sexually and mentally. There are innumerable challenges and problems faced by them both at home and work place.

First let us focus on mental harassment:

It is an age old convention that women are less capable and inefficient in working as compared to men. The attitude which considers women unfit for certain jobs holds back women. In spite of the constitutional provisions, gender bias creates obstacles in their recruitment. In addition to this, the same attitude governs injustice of unequal salaries for the same job. The true equality has not been achieved even after 61 years of independence.

In order to achieve success in corporate sector, women feel that they must do better than their male colleagues. This leads to higher expectations and efficiency by their bosses and subordinates. Working in such conditions inevitably puts strain on women to greater extent as compared to men, thus making them less eager in their career.

No one thinks of upgrading their skills with technological advancement which makes it easy to terminate woman’s employment and hire other persons. Maternity leave is seldom given. Women’s issues do not occur on the priority list of most of the trade unions. Traditionally women are seen as the house-keepers and child bearers. A woman could still bear up with these problems if she controls over money that she earns but in most cases, their salary is handed over to father, husband or in laws. Therefore, main purpose for seeking employment to get independence is nullified in many cases.

The story doesn’t end here. Sexual harassment, which was an invisible problem until quite recently, has now become a major social problem with the widespread entry of women in to the labor force.

Let us now focus on sexual harassment:

Today, almost all working women are prone to sexual harassment irrespective of their status, personal characteristics and the types of their employment. They face sexual harassment on way on transports, at working places, educational institutions, hospitals, at home and even in police stations when they go to file complaints. It is shocking that the law protectors are violating and outraging modesty of women. Public transport system is over crowded and women become easy targets for physical harassment.

Most of the women tend to be concentrated in the poor service jobs whereas men are in an immediate supervisory position, which gives them an opportunity to exploit their subordinate women. It is a difficult situation for woman if the higher officer demands sexual favours. If refused the boss takes out other means to make her life miserable. There have been several cases of sexual harassment recently involving even the senior women officials. If a woman is praised for her work or promoted on merit, her colleagues do not hesitate to attribute it to sexual favours. This psychological pressure can easily lead to a woman resigning from her job.

In our society, most cases of sexual abuse go unreported because of the trauma and the social stigma attached to it. In the recent past, various guidelines, resolutions have been made to broaden the definition of sexual exploitation. There must be gender equality which includes protection from harassment and right to work with dignity. Sexual harassment of a female at the place of work is incompatible with her dignity and needs to be eliminated.

Appropriate steps must be taken by employers or persons in charge of workplaces, public or private sector, to ensure safe working atmosphere for women. Appropriate work conditions must be provided in respect of work, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at workplaces.

If we want to see a society free of sexual harassment, there is need of changing the mindset of the society. Simply enacting laws is not sufficient. So, the political structure should be altered to achieve the goal.

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