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The status of Indian women has undergone considerable change. Though Indian women are far more independent and aware of their legal rights, such as right to work, equal treatment, property and maintenance, a majority of women remain unaware of these rights. There are other factors that affect their quality of life such as age of marriage, extent of literacy, role in the family and so on. In many families, women do not have a voice in anything while in several families; the women may have a dominating role. The result is that the empowerment of women in India is highly unbalanced and with huge gaps. Those who are economically independent and literate live the kind of life that other women tend to envy about. This disparity is also a cause for worry because balanced development is not taking place.

Discrimination at Workplace

However, Indian women still face blatant discrimination at their workplaces. A major problem faced by the working women is sexual harassment at the work place. Further, women employees working in night shift are more vulnerable to such incidents. Nurses, for example, face this problem nearly every day. There is nothing that is done in hospitals to tackle and address the danger they face. Such blatant disregard of current Indian laws is one reason why sexual harassment at the workplace continues to increase.

Also, Indian women are often deprived of promotions and growth opportunities at work places but this doesn’t apply to all working women. A majority of working women continue to be denied their right to equal pay, under the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and are underpaid in comparison to their male colleagues. This is usually the case in factories and labor-oriented industries.

Safety of Working Women While Traveling

Typically, the orthodox mindset in the Indian society makes it difficult for a working woman to balance her domestic environment with the professional life. In some families, it may not be acceptable to work after six o’clock. Those families that do accept these working hours may experience considerable anxiety every day about a woman’s safety while traveling. So many issues affect a working woman because she is closely protected or watched by her family and the society.

According to survey conducted by ASSOCHAM, on 1000 women professionals, around 80 per cent of the households expect their daughters-in-law to prioritize household requirements over the official work. Further, many of them are physically and psychologically abused, by their in-laws and husband but they do not complain or let others know about it, particularly if they have children.

Working Women Can Claim Maintenance

A woman’s legal right to claim maintenance from her husband is recognized under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 24, of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, entitles a woman to claim maintenance from her estranged husband. Also, the claim for maintenance is extendable to her minor children. Further, these laws provide that maintenance can be claimed even prior to divorce, during separation.

Initially, it was believed that a working woman in India is not entitled to claim maintenance, as she is capable of maintaining herself. However, the ambiguity was cleared by a significant decision in Bhagwan v. Kamla Devi, (1975) 2 SCC 386. The Supreme Court held that a working woman can claim maintenance from her estranged husband, if her monthly income is not enough for her maintenance. Further, the Court clarified that the term ‘Unable to maintain herself’ does not require a woman to be absolute destitute, to entitle her for maintenance.

The legal right of a woman pertaining to equal pay at the work place remains unaddressed most of the time because few women are confident enough to complain. About right to maintenance, it is restricted, if she remarries or converts to another religion. Further, there have been instances where the Court has ordered women with substantial earnings, to pay maintenance to their husbands.

11 Responses to “Problems Faced by Working Women in India”

  1. Sampa sen

    I am a teacher . after her school has finished she accompanied me in my school.idont have any other option.but my colleagues don’t want it .am i doing wrong or any legal advice are there….pls help me….my english is poor so iam sorry for it also….but i need ahelp badly..

  2. preeti

    hi i am preeti, working in a private college. a month before my manage talks some stupid talks but i ignore it after some time he again started at that time i stopped him and from that time i neither talked to him nor wished also but on Saturday my manager terminated me charging that i am bringing my 1 and a 3 month babe to college. i just want to have a legal talk with the manage so if any act or rule is there related the working woman who can take there child with him to there work place. plz provide me

  3. archana

    Hi, I worked for an organization that had service level agreement signed for 18 months. I worked as analyst providing technical support for US clients. after completing 12 months I was diagnosed with a medical condition wherein my doctor consulted me to avoid night shifts. Despite of a medical certificate provided my previous employer does not relieve me and have blocked my original documents plus salary.

    • Karishma

      Indian women should be taught to become assertive and demand fair treatment and equitable distribution of chores at home. Even though Indian women find themselves in very big firms and establishments, their identity as working women and the value for their dreams has to improve a lot in society. Women want to prove themselves on all fronts and be perfect at work as well as home. They don’t want to neglect their families because of their work life. I think this is what really pressurizes them and makes it harder for them to prove themselves at work. I came across a great blog written by Nita Kapoor of Godfrey Philips India, and she has come great insights on the same. You can check it out here:

  4. parveen

    I am a mother in law of 52years. My daughter in law is 25 with a one year old baby. We all were very caring and loving towards her from two yrs.
    Recently i thought she should take some household i asked my maid to help her in cooking.but instead she got furious as to i am here as a servant. U cant force me to cook, if i feel like then only will i cook. She has left the house with the baby from last one month. Pl help how i should behave.

  5. Jyotsna

    Except sexual harassment dont the women face specific problems in thier work place? Why not focus on such day to day problems in the workplace?



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