Category : COVER STORY

Firasha Shaikh

Looking back at the year gone by, Firasha lists out some important events that involved women in India…

Pc: Al Jazeera
On September 20th, India’s Parliament passed the Women’s Reservation Bill with an overwhelming majority. This piece of legislation provides for 33 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women; thus finally fulfilling a demand that has been many years in the making. Officially the One Hundred and Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of India, it is expected to come into force after the next delimitation exercise.

Death of Justice Fathima Beevi

Pc: Wikipedia
Former Supreme Court judge and former Governor of Tamil Nadu, M. Fathima Beevi passed away on 23rd November at the age of ninety-six. She achieved the distinction of being the first Supreme Court of India chief justice. Her appointment in 1989 marked a historic milestone, making her the first woman to join the highest court in India. Additionally, she earned the distinction of being the first Muslim woman appointed to a senior judiciary position in the country.

ISRO women scientists

Pc: IndiaTimes
Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, the renowned ISRO scientist known as the ‘Rocket Woman of India,’ disclosed that the landing site for the Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission, named the ‘Shiv Shakti Point,’ was selected by a team of women scientists. The mission, involving the participation of over 100 women scientists and engineers, achieved a significant milestone on August 23 when India successfully landed its lunar rover, making it the first country to place a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole. During the launch and landing, numerous women were present in the control room. Among the key women scientists in the team were Nandini Harinath, Anuradha T. K., Minal Rohit, Moumita Dutta, Tessy Thomas, V. R. Lalithambika, and Muthayya Vanitha.

The Supreme Court of India releases a guidebook discouraging the use of outdated terms for women.

Outdated expressions that belittle women and sustain gender stereotypes continue to be commonly used in Indian courts; terms like “housewife” or “adulteress,” and instances of sexual harassment being described as “eve-teasing.”

The Supreme Court emphasised that its Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes is intended to promote legal reasoning and writing that is devoid of detrimental notions about women.

Notable Padma Awardees

Pc: IndiaTimes
On the occasion of Republic Day 2023, several women were awarded the country’s highest-ranking awards for public service & leadership. Many among them were from socio-economically vulnerable backgrounds and were honoured for their path-breaking contributions. Notable among them was Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi, belonging to the Siddi tribe in Jambur village, Junagadh. She utilised her radio as a teacher, learning about women’s development schemes and implementing them within her community. Joining the Aga Khan Foundation, she actively engaged in community work. Her contributions include educating over 700 women on opening bank accounts and promoting savings (SheThePeople).

Manipur women condemn mob’s sexual assault amid ethnic violence

Credit: WorldCrunch
In the thick of the ethnic violence in Manipur, a harrowing video of sexual assault of two women from the Kuki-Zo community at the hands of a mob drew outrage and fierce condemnation. It served as a grim reminder that women continue to be among the worst affected victims in any violent conflict.

Proposed Legislation Strengthens Rape Laws

Pc: The Week
In a move to overhaul India’s criminal laws, the Centre introduced bills in August that advocate for harsher penalties for rape and the establishment of distinct laws pertaining to the rape of minors. Despite these efforts, the proposed legislation maintains an exemption for marital rape within the broader framework of the rape law. The latter issue continues to remain a bone of contention in the discourse on women’s rights with differing opinions on the issue.

2023: Women in the workforce

In 2023, a Deloitte report indicated a nearly 10-percentage-point decrease to 48% in non-inclusive behaviours experienced by women in the Indian workplace. The report also highlighted that women encounter widening pay gaps as they progress up the corporate hierarchy.
Contrastingly, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey Report 2022-23 released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on October 9, 2023, there has been a notable improvement in the Female Labour Force Participation Rate in India. The rate has increased by 4.2 percentage points to reach 37.0% in 2023, based on the ‘usual status’ approach to measuring labour force participation.
As per the Great Place To Work India report, women workforce in India rose to 26 per cent in firms.
Despite these statistics, compared globally, India continues to have one of the world’s lowest rates of formal employment for women (NYT).

The G20 advocates for the empowerment of women.

Pc: Business Today
India’s G20 Presidency has made a significant shift, moving away from a focus on women’s development to emphasising women-led development. This historic move towards gender equality and the empowerment of women is reflected in the inclusion of the Chair’s Statement from the G20 Ministerial Conference for Women Empowerment in Gandhinagar in the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration 2023, marking a notable achievement.
India is currently positioned at 127th among 146 nations in terms of gender parity, underscoring the imperative for tangible actions to rectify existing inequalities.

Historic Test Triumph for Indian Women Cricketers

PC: Hindustan Times
Under the captaincy of Harmanpreet Kaur, Indian women cricketers achieved their inaugural Test victory at home against England in Navi Mumbai on Saturday. The remarkable 347-run victory margin stands as the largest in the history of women’s Test cricket, a noteworthy feat considering the team’s infrequent participation in Test matches. The one-off Test against England marked India’s first Test on home soil in nine years and only the fifth since 2014.


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