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Workplace equality in India

08 Mar 2023

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By Atul Gupta (Partner), Kanishka Maggon (Counsel), and Tania Gupta (Associate)
This article was first published in International Law Office (Lexology).


The World Bank’s report on Women, Business and the Law 2021 notes that, on average, women benefit from three-quarters of the rights that men have.

Various factors contribute to gender inequality, including social background, mindsets and lack of awareness. In India, as a largely patriarchal society, gender inequality is often evident from childhood. Freedom of movement, education and choice of marriage is often more limited for girls. These inequalities also translate into adulthood, and women’s social and professional life.

While gender inequality needs to be addressed both inside and outside the workplace, this article focuses on this subject in a workplace context.

Gender equality through legal lens

Under the Constitution of India, “equality” is a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens. The state is prohibited from discriminating against anyone on the basis of race, caste or sex and has the obligation to provide equal opportunities to all citizens. The constitution also allows the government to take special measures for the benefit of women. However, the provisions under the constitution can only be enforced against the state and do not apply to private companies, requiring the enactment of special laws that apply to the wider population.

Efforts have also been made to ensure representation of women and transgender people in law-making bodies as well as in the policy wings of the government. Over the years, as a nation, India has made significant progress to improve the participation and retention of women in the workforce by enacting several progressive laws that also apply to private sector employment.

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