Women and Her Right to work with dignity : Islamic and Legal perspective

Source : Internet

By: Syed Wajid Rizvi
Contemporary age may be compared to a horse race where every individual is racing and competing with every other individual to win this race. But towards the end the reward for the race seems to be not satisfying. In such a pitiful scenario women is rather two directional. In one direction they race to settle down their house hold chores, children and family and on the other hand they race in open to meet the challenges of work place and to protect their dignity.
At this juncture question arise, are not women facing hardships and difficulties in participating in two races? Isn’t there a need of changing our age old perceptions and breaking the man made shackles? Is this not the time to think that women constitute important and sizable component of the society. The society cannot realize or get the worth of its full potential unless women fully participate in all spheres of activity aimed at socio economic development.
This is not possible unless women is not given equality of status in true sense .Even though religious commands and written laws secure her dignity but still she is the only surviving community that is continuously exposed to injustice and unwritten differentiation
This Gender based discrimination represents the ugly face of the society .Really it is travesty of all the cannon of social justice and equally that women who constitute half of the world’s population and …. Work

In this paper attempt is made to address to such crucial situations; for this purpose the role of religion and law both at national and international level will be analyzed .it is augured that both law and religion provides dignified status to the women be it in the family or at work place .But in spite of all this women are facing numberless challenges at work places due to cultural and interpretational problems
Islam no doubt gives central focus on familial institution and it also allows women to participate in outside work place while following certain etiquettes .Familial institution occupy a prominent position in Islam because the family is concerned as Fundamental unit of Islamic civilization
As far as Islamic stance on public participation of working of women is concerned, it is very concrete and clear. Legally in Islam ,the financial responsibility of a family is assigned to man ,since men are physically stronger than women ,and they can also protect the chastity of women .Although in Islam men are given financial responsibility ,but at the same time women are not prevented from participating in shouldering the financial responsibility of family with men. But on a condition of following Islamic etiquette of dress and social interaction women are allowed to participate in public sphere. Not only this, Islam also offers women legal rights for their own earnings and for their own property. She has all rights to spend her own earnings and property.
The Quran says:-
“To men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn”. {AL Quran 4:32}
In order to protect the dignity and chastity of women Quran has moral and sexual lapses and protect their chastity.
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty and to believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty”. {Al Quran 24:30 -31]
There are number of instances during the period of Prophet Muhammad [saw} and the Khulafa –e –Rashdin {R.A] which demonstrate the fact that even the blesses wives of prophet {saw] and other blessed women companions participated in some public affairs.
To quote few instances:-
-Shifa binti Abdullah was appointed as an inspector judge {muhtassibah }in the market of Madina.she was even encouraged by the khalifah umar {R.A} to council him as she was recognized as women of high learning and understanding
-Umm Ammarah {R.A] participated in the battle of uhad ,Hunayan and yamamah
Many such examples can be cited to show the participation of women during this period in social economic and political spheres. However these women never undermined familial relationships and responsibilities nor over looked them
International position:
International legal system guarantees and recognises life to a women in number of conventions Declarations and covenants .The meaning of dignified life in CEDAW conventions 1997 is that “There should not be any kind of discrimination to women i.e there shall not be distinguishablity ,exclusion and restriction on the basis of sex having effect of impairing of nullifying the recognition ,enjoyment of exercise by women ,irrespective of their marital status on the basis of equality of men and women of human and fundamental freedoms in the political economic ,social ,cultural ,civil or any other field .
Sexual harassment at work places is the violation of women’s rights to work with dignity and also the infrigment of CEDAW provisions.
UNO: Universal Declaration of human Rights 1948 provided to every person right to life ,liberty and security .Act 23 {1} guarantees to every person right to work, to free choice of employment and to just and favorable conditions of work including free and fair atmosphere at work place.
Act 23 [2} guarantees equal remuneration to men and women to ensure existence worthy of human dignity .ICCPR prohibits forced and compulsory labour .ICESCR also recognize equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights .Economic rights of the women also covers right to work with dignity .it also guarantees fair and equal wages and decent living.
National Efforts for protection of working women:
Indian constitution: preamble of constitution provides social economic justice to all the citizen of India. It guarantees dignity of individual and equality of status and opportunity to Indian citizen .Again it declares that a citizen {men and women both} has the right to work with dignity.
Part 111 of constitution gives political and civil rights to Indian citizens and persons on the ground of equality under Art 14 of the constitution.Art 15 [3} provides nothing in this art shall prevent state from making any special provision for women and children. It is a type of special protection to women to protect her dignity i.e. provide dignified life to working women to exclude them from certain dangerous occupations. Article 16 provides for equal opportunity in matter of public employment
Art 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and baggers {corvee} and other forms of forced labour .This article is equally applicable to working women
Directive principles of state policy are the unique constitutional remedies to protect the women workers Art 39 [a] , 39 {d},39 [e],42,43and 51 {A] are the milestones to safe guard the women workers dignified life
Art 39 {a] provides that state shall ,in particular ,direct its policy towards securing that citizens {men and women equally ], have the right to an adequate means of live hood .39{e] protects for equal pay for equal work to men and women Art 39 {e] protects health of women workers Art 42 facilitates working women maternity benefit and securing just and humane conditions for work Art 43 provides for suitable wages for all workers including women worker .Fundamental duties under Art 51 [A] [e] impose a duty on every citizen that every citizen will renounce practice derogatory to the dignity of women. It means that if work conditions are against the dignity of women workers, steps should be taken to oppose and renounce such derogatory practices to maintain the dignity of working women.
All said and done one feels that bulk of gender law exists to safe guard the weaker sex, but the actual area of concern is the distance between law in books and law in action, which owes its existence to ignorance of women, particularly working women and indifference of authorities responsible for carrying out the purpose of gender legislation and lack of social and political determination to end gender disparity and that is the real challenge before all concerned

Syed Wajid Rizvi is a Law student. For feedback he can be reached at wajidrizvi9@gmail.com

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