“Including women in the judiciary is not only about ensuring that her perception is relevant to resolving cases about women. It is about integrating a gender perspective and giving equal visibility to women.” These famous words of Ayesha Malik, Justice of the Supreme court of Pakistan tell us a lot about the role and importance of women in the Judiciary. In India, there is a significant gender gap in practically every industry, with the legal profession being particularly unsuitable for women. However, women soon began to enter and advance in this field. Despite this, there is still a gender imbalance and inadequate representation of women in the judiciary. In addition to examining the judicial systems of other nations, this blog investigates the issues that women in the Indian judiciary face. It also discovered that throughout the previous 70 years, little effort had been made to ensure that women had equal representation in the High courts and the Supreme Court. Additionally, only 11 women have served as Supreme Court justices since the court’s founding, there are no female chief justices, only 36 of the high court’s 680 members are female, and barely 30% of lower court judges are female.
Judiciary has the ultimate power to maintain the law and order in a country. Along with that, it also ensures the social and legal rights of every individual. Judiciary plays a prominent role in providing equal rights to the citizens and maintaining a check & balance system to leave no room for inequality and injustice. The Indian Judiciary has always been male-dominated due to some reasons like working hours, casual sexism in the courtroom, not valuing the decisions of women, and a toxic work environment. The long process of entering into higher judiciary is also one of the main reasons stopping women to choose the judiciary because there are many social issues like marriage, family, and security that women need to take care of. It is also believed that women are less educated and cannot take fair decisions when it comes to serious issues. (In contrast with this, Judge Nancy Hernandez Lopex quoted “ In cases related to sexual harassment, gender violence, obstetrics violence, women’s role has been crucial in evaluating the evidence and relate to these experiences that only women know. The more diverse the courts the better the justice can be delivered because women include different perspectives.) Also, Anne Phillip’s theory of politics of presence is based on the belief that women are best equipped to represent women’s issues because of shared experiences, interests, and needs. Decisions taken are likely to be more informed when different life experiences are represented. Women judges and lawyers, by bringing these necessary experiences to their judicial practice, will also bring attention to the need for a more representative justice system. As India is known for its diversity, it is pertinent to make the Judiciary diverse. In addition to increasing public trust in the court and empowering it to make more informed decisions, a diverse and representative judiciary would also promote gender equality inside the institution. Because then everyone has the right to put forward their opinions and perspectives to come out with the best option. (Ban Ki-Moon, the former UN Secretary-General, placed a special emphasis on the empowerment and development of women at the outset of the International Conference on People’s Empowerment and Development, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 5, 2012). This was done in an effort to promote gender equality globally, which would support empowerment because achieving empowerment requires the overall growth of society.
LACK OF WOMEN IN JUDICIARY: THE BARRIERS
There are many reasons and rationales for the lack of women in the Judiciary because there are many stereotypes attached to it. Along with that, gender disparity and patriarchial mindsets are two of the big reasons that stop women to represent themselves in the Indian Judiciary. Some of the major reasons are as follows:
At the 26 September event, CJI Ramana shared data regarding women lawyers, pointing out that of 17 lakh advocates, only 15 percent are women. Even elected disciplinary bodies for lawyers, such as the state Bar councils, have only two percent of women members. The apex body of lawyers, the Bar Council of India (BCI), has no woman member. Even though the number of lawyers increased in past years but the struggle for women lawyers still continues and they are facing hardships to convince their families to enter into this profession.
Insufficient law is in place to address specific gender inequalities. For instance, despite workplace harassment policies, women are frequently the targets of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. inadequate legal and judicial institutions to address gender inequality in society. The weaker capacity of judges and judicial institutions makes it worse.
LACK OF AWARENESS
It is vital to dispel myths and educate people about India’s judicial system. Women who are aware of their rights can stand up for them. Encouragement of young girls to pursue a profession in law is crucial if we are to address the issue of gender inequality in higher education as well.
CONCLUSION AND SOLUTIONS
Equal representation is pertinent in the Indian Judiciary at this time because women are exhaling in almost every field and if there is a lack of women in the highest forum of the country then their rights get infringed and this leads to inequality. Higher numbers and visibility of women in the judiciary can lead to an increased willingness of women to enforce their rights and seek justice. We need to address and lower the barriers faced by women to allow them to thrive in the legal profession. Diversity is the most important aspect in every field, whether it is gender diversity or ideological diversity that made the deliberations and discussions bias-free. More diversity more equality!
Author’s Name: Gungun Agrawal (Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai)