We, the human race, are a very peculiar species. When God created humans irrespective of gender, he gave us the power to think rationally. In other words, human beings can reason and choose. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom. Humanity was created for fellowship. But instead of using the power to make sagacious decisions, we have formed gender based stereotypes. For eg. women are essentially bad drivers. Men cannot cook etc. And surprisingly we have never tried to break this stereotype, instead these stereotypes occupy a major portion in our minds when we make perceptions regarding someone of a particular gender (including the third gender). From birth males and females are raised differently and experience different environments throughout their lives. In the eyes of society, gender has a huge role to play in many major milestones or characteristics in life; like personality
Gender inequality is the idea and situation that women and men are not equal. Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender. It arises from differences in gender roles. Gender systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical. Gender inequality stems from distinctions, whether empirically grounded or socially constructed. (Gender inequality, WIKIPEDIA, (July, 23, 2018, 15:32 UTC), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_inequality).
Women drivers are rare in India due to the general notion(stereotype) that women are bad drivers, naturally narrowing down their job opportunities. Men are not good cooks but men form the majority in the Michelin star chefs’ community. Women are expected to compromise their respective careers in order to get settled in life (marriage) whereas men are encouraged to work harder and earn more so as to be marriage-ready.
In India, discriminatory attitudes towards either sex have existed for generations and affect the lives of both sexes. Although the constitution of India grants men and women equal rights, gender disparities remain. Girl children are aborted even in this modern society. Rural India abort baby girls mainly due to financial reasons that is, a society where men are considered the bread earners of the family and women are mere objects who serve their men. Another major point is the dowry the girl’s family needs to pay at the time of marriage (even though it is illegal in India to ask for dowry). These are some of the factors which lead to female infanticide. This practice is also prevalent in the middle class families in India, though for them the reason is relating to expansion of their family than the financial aspect.
In India, the differential treatment starts even before the child is born (as emphasized above) and continues for a lifetime. Boys are given cars to play with and girls are expected to play with dolls and kitchen sets. Boys are associated with the colour blue while girls are associated with pink. Young male adults are given the freedom to choose their career paths while females are advised to choose a career out of a limited list (as set by their parents).
This discrimination is seen even in the wage rate/salary patterns of males and females. According to the World Bank, in India, higher percentage of women are working in the agricultural sector (as compared with their counterpart). But the industry and service sector is dominated by male population. This seems to draw our attention to the lack of equal opportunities to women. Likewise, the wage/salary drawn by males are higher than that drawn by females (as most of them are contributing as family workers). (Gender Data Portal, THE WORLD BANK, http://datatopics.worldbank.org/gender/country/india).
The difference in wage rate/salary has also been talked about by eminent personalities of Bollywood, like Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma etc. Time series trend analysis reveal that male artists are paid more than their counterpart for the same role. Likewise, male cricketers/footballers are paid more than female cricket/football players in India and also around the world.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States labor law, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex. It was signed into law on June 10, 1963, by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program. Similarly, in India, Equal Remuneration Act. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 provides
for payment of equal remuneration to men and women and help prevent gender discrimination. Article 39 of the Indian Constitution envisages that the States will have a policy for securing equal pay for equal work for both men and women. These measures have been adopted to minimize the gender biases.
The Indian Constitution recognized the principle of ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ for both men and women, and ‘Right to Work’ through Article 39(d) and 41. These Articles are inserted as Directive Principles of State Policy. This means that, they will serve as guidelines to the Central and State governments of India, which are to be kept in mind while framing laws and policies.
Efforts are employed even on legislative fronts – Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 being the prime one amongst them. The Act by means of Section 4 not only emphasizes on equal pay for equal work but even bars the employer from reversing the pay scales in order to attain equilibrium.
The principle of Equal Pay for Equal Work was first considered in Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India in the year 1962 where the Supreme Court declared it incapable of being enforced in the court of law. However, it received due recognition only in 1987 through Mackinnon Mackenzie’s case. Here the issue of concern was a claim for equal remuneration for Lady Stenographers and Male Stenographers. This was ruled in favour of lady stenographers as the Court was in favour of equal pay.
According to me, unequal pay is an issue since India still lacks a comprehensive and transparent wage policy for all the sectors of the economy. This makes the issue of potential demand for equal pay a matter of concern in recent times. Equal pay here relates not only to basic pay but includes other benefits and allowances too. A mechanism needs to be developed wherein transparency should be given in how much profits they are causing to their parent Company, irrespective of their gender stereotypes. For example a probable explanation for why male cricketers are paid more than female cricketers in India is that, since cricket is very popular amongst the male population (compared to the female counterpart), higher percentage of males associate themselves with the game. Hence, the men cricket team gains more popularity than the women team. Now, because of their huge fan following they attract more advertisements, more endorsements. Subsequently, their market value increases. They attract more audience to the stadiums, so higher revenue generation. Thus, institutions are keen to invest more in the male cricket team due to the lucrative business opportunities. Hence, their pay scale is also higher.
Also, the wage rate/pay package gap in Bollywood is acceptable when there is transparency regarding the impact they, as individuals, create on the lives of men and women in urban and rural India. The more influential the celebrity is, higher would be the pay package, irrespective of gender.
There is a dire need for transparency in the mechanism or parameters which influence the pay packages. In foreign land, in the adult movie industry, female performers have higher packages compared to male performers. This is so because a huge majority of adult movie viewers are male which means the money that the aforesaid industry earns comes mostly from their male viewers.
Being the future of the country, we should focus on root level education that is, educating the present population on how gender discriminations are wrong and how to resolve such gender conflicts (solutions discussed earlier). We should also raise our future generation without any pre-conceived notions or stereotypes.
We need a shared understanding of each of our experiences if we are to ever close the gaps in our views and make the changes needed to improve everyone’s lives.
(This paper is authored by Priyadarshini Gupta from ST. XAVIER’S UNIVERSITY, KOLKATA.
It was recognized in the top 3 best papers submitted in IMW-Lions International Conclave on Conflict Resolution.)