Legal

Challenges Faced by Women in the Workplace

calendar16 May, 2023
timeReading Time: 6 Minutes
challenges faced by women.

India is a country with a rich cultural heritage and a diverse population, and with growing times, the ancient ideology of considering a woman working outside of a house a taboo is fading away at a fast pace. Nevertheless, India has not progressed much in terms of women’s employment. According to the latest statistics, female labour engagement has fallen sharply; the number of working women decreased from 26% in 2010 to 19% in 2020. Several factors could be to blame for such a failure, or downfall, but a significant chunk goes to the challenges faced by women subsequent to their employment. Despite the strides made in promoting gender equality, women continue to face numerous obstacles and roadblocks in the workplace. These hurdles encompass a variety of issues, ranging from gender inequality, workplace discrimination, and gender bias to unequal pay. Women often find themselves at a disadvantage, with limited opportunities for career advancement, subjected to discriminatory behaviour, and hindered by damaging gender stereotypes. As a result, female employees experience reduced motivation and a lack of financial stability due to unequal pay and limited growth prospects. To promote an environment that is truly fair and inclusive workplace, it is crucial to address and overcome these challenges, ensuring that Every employee has the chance to succeed and give their best work. Some of the challenges faced by women are discussed in detail below.

Some Challenges Faced by Women in a Workplace

Following are some basic challenges faced by women in a workplace:

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality refers to the unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender. Women are often disadvantaged in the workplace due to societal norms and stereotypes that limit their opportunities for career advancement. This can result in fewer opportunities for promotions and career growth, which can ultimately limit their earning potential. For instance, women are often expected to prioritise their family responsibilities over their work, It can result in their rejection for jobs or other chances. The fact that women are frequently underrepresented in leadership roles also contributes to the cycle of gender inequity at work.

Workplace Discrimination

 Any unfair or unfavourable treatment of a person at work based on their gender, race, age, religion, or any other legally protected characteristic is considered discrimination. Women may experience discrimination in the form of harassment, bullying, exclusion from certain job roles or promotions, or even outright termination. Workplace discrimination can be difficult to prove You could need legal counsel’s aid to address. However, organisations that fail to address workplace discrimination may face legal action, reputational damage, and the loss of talented employees.

Gender Bias

 Gender bias refers to the tendency to favour one gender over another based on preconceived notions and stereotypes. Gender bias can manifest itself in various ways, including through assumptions about women’s abilities and interests, stereotyping, and unfair expectations. For example, women may be perceived as less ambitious or less committed to their work because they have family responsibilities. They may also be overlooked for leadership positions because they are perceived as lacking the necessary skills or experience, even if they are just as qualified as their male counterparts.

Unequal Pay

 The difference in salary between women and men performing the same job or work of equal value is referred to as unequal pay. Women continue to be paid less than males for doing the same work, despite efforts to change this. Their long-term professional prospects and financial security may suffer as a result. This might significantly affect their lives financial stability and long-term career prospects. In many cases, unequal pay is the result of gender bias and discrimination. Starting pay for women may be less than for men.  and they may be passed over for promotions or salary increases that are given to male colleagues. Organisations that fail to address unequal pay may face legal action, reputational damage, and the loss of talented employees.

Sexual Harassment

One of the biggest issues is sexual harassment that women encounter. It can take many forms, including unwelcome advances, sexual comments, physical touching, and even sexual assault. This kind of harassment can make the workplace unpleasant for women and negatively impact their mental and physical well-being. Act of 2013 to Prevent, Prohibit, and Address Sexual Harassment of Women at Work forbids sexual harassment at the workplace in India. Sexual harassment is defined by the Act as any unwanted act or behaviour, whether expressed explicitly or implicitly, including unwanted physical contact and approaches, sexually suggestive comments, pornographic displays, and any unwanted sexually explicit physical, verbal, or nonverbal behaviour.

Legal Reforms by The Indian Government and Judiciary

Several regulations have been passed by the Indian government and regulations to address discrimination against women in the workplace. Equal compensation for equal effort is guaranteed by the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. Women who have worked for a specified amount of time are entitled to a paid leave of absence for up to 26 weeks during pregnancy and after childbirth under the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961[1]. By preventing and resolving sexual harassment complaints, the Act of 2013 to Prevent, Prohibit, and Address Sexual Harassment of Women at Work intends to establish to create a setting where women can work in safety and security.

Another major challenge that women face in the workplace is sexual harassment. Women may experience discrimination at work as a result of sexual harassment and negatively impact their mental and physical well-being. It is a violation of a woman’s dignity and human rights. Act of 2013 to Prevent, Prohibit, and Address Sexual Harassment of Women at Work, aims to ensure that women feel protected at work and gives them a way to report incidences of sexual harassment. Nevertheless, despite the fact that these regulations exist, working-class women continue to confront numerous obstacles. The largest barrier is that not enough people are informed and aware of these regulations. Unaware of their legal options, many women or their rights in circumstances of harassment or discrimination. However, despite the existence of these laws, women still face many challenges in the workplace. The largest barrier is that not enough people are informed and aware of these regulations. Unaware of their legal options, many women or their rights in circumstances of harassment or discrimination. As a result, they may not report instances of discrimination or harassment or may face retaliation for doing so. Nevertheless, the true challenge is the lack of effective implementation of these laws. Many workplaces do not have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in place, in accordance with the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Work (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act. Even if an ICC is in place, it may not be functioning effectively or may not be taken seriously by the management.

Vishakha Case

This is the most prominent case in Indian jurisdiction entailing sexual harassment, and the judgement in the said case involves various guidelines to stop sexual harassment at the workplace. The said guidelines included:

  • Definition of Sexual Harassment:  The same included certain acts such as physical contact or advances, demands for sexual favours, sexually explicit comments, pornographic displays, and any other unwelcome conduct, be it verbal, non-verbal, or physical;
  • Employer’s obligations to create a safer working environment;
  • Internal Complaints Committee and Local Complaints Committee;
  • Interim Reliefs such as transfer of aggrieved woman to any other workplace or granting leave up to a period of 3 months;
  • complaint mechanism with a special counsellor and other support activities;

Preventive steps such as discussion of sexual harassment, display of guidelines, assistance from victims to the employer, and displaying the contact number of the complaint committee

Measures to address the challenges faced by women in the workplace.

A coordinated effort is required to solve the challenges faced by women in the workplace. Some actions that can be taken are as follows:

  • Raising awareness about women’s rights in the workplace and the legal provisions available to them.
  • Promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including the recruitment and retention of women employees.
  • Creating a safe and supportive workplace culture that encourages women to speak up about instances of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Providing training to employees, especially managers, to recognize and prevent instances of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.Setting up internal complaints committees (ICCs) in workplaces as mandated by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, and ensuring their effective functioning.

Conclusion

 While there have been significant legal advances made in recent years to promote gender equality and protect women in the workplace, there is still a long way to go. Women continue to face discrimination and harassment in many workplaces, and there is a need for increased awareness and education about the laws and regulations in place to protect them. It is also essential to ensure effective implementation of these laws and hold workplaces accountable for creating a safe and inclusive working environment for all employees, regardless of their gender. A concerted effort by employers, employees, and policymakers is required to create a safe, inclusive, and equitable working environment for women.

Read our Article:Preventing And Responding To Sexual Harassment

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