National Commission on Labour (1967)||
EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
Participation of women in economic activity is common in all countries, developed and developing. The extent of their participation depends upon factors too well-known to bear repetition. While in the developed countries, many of which are now characterised by full employment, the debate on the extent of employment of women is not keen, and in fact, there is room for more women in the working force, in countries which are marked by labour surpluses, the need for providing employment for women when many men are available for work raises questions which cannot admit of categorical answers. It is in these developing countries that incomes by and large are low and the family requires the assistance of an additional earner. Where social conventions do not weigh oppressively against bringing women into paid employment, family income can best be supplemented by a draft on the female population in the working-age group.
27.1 It is obvious that if a woman has to work, she will need more protection than man in her working environment in developing countries and in traditional occupations. Where more sophisticated equipment is used in the production process, compulsions for special protection will perhaps be less. The justification for protective legislation is thus recognised in all societies. The ILO has evolved several conventions to provide such protection. By their very nature, such measures of protection introduced restrictive influences on the demand for women labour. In labour shortage economies, the need for protection does not create difficulties because women are required for work and the employer is prepared to pay the price. Elsewhere, the relatively high cost of employing women can always be a reason for an employer to discriminate. This apart, institutional arrangements for training women have, by tradition, been slow to develop and a vicious circle gets created against giving women their due share in work opportunities. But all this means a careful planning of requirements of manpower and preparing the labour force in advance for work which is likely to be created.
27.2 We have dealt with various aspects of protective legislation in the respective chapters and have recommended that all such legislation is necessary for women workers. We have also emphasised that it requires to be implemented more effectively to give the satisfaction which women deserve on that score, irrespective of its cost to the employer. We propose to cover in what follows the question of discrimination only, whether it is in respect of employing women or in giving equal wage to them for work of equal value.
27.3 In our country the right of women to public employment is recognised under the Constitution. Articles 16(1) and 16(2) of the Constitution grant the right of equal opportunities in regard to employment to men and women without any distinction. The Directive Principle of State Policy 1 which has a bearing on this issue is 39(a). It is with reference to these that we have to examine the evidence before us, but before doing so, we may recount briefly some facts about employment of women in their historical perspective.