Gender inequality means the idea that indicates men and women are not equal, and that very gender influences a person’s experiences. The women in Indian society, face gender discrimination at all levels of their lives, which shows how gender disparity continues to exist in the Indian society. The lives of the women have been largely determined and shaped for centuries, because of an organization that continues to go on, “patriarchy”. “It can be defined as a social system in which men hold the primary power and dominate in the roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privileges and the control of property”[1].Women have long been neglected and considered an oppressed section. Women are asked to be restricted to their household chores, raising children, and looking after their families, irrespective of their educational qualifications and job profiles. The mentality and the societal injustices between men and women continue to put down the women from thriving in a valuable structure which not only affects the sustainability goals of the country but also limits economic growth.


“Several traditionalists do believe that men are born to dominate and women to be the subordinate”.[2] The origins of patriarchy started with the division of labour which began several years back when the sexuality of the women was controlled by men, and the underlying concern was to maintain a patriarchal structure in which the men thrive. In these institutions, the control over women’s sexuality was too dominated by the men, and therefore it became a norm that those who owned the means of production could dominate over those who didn’t, putting men in dominance.  “The origin and existence of patriarchy are not natural; it is man-made and therefore it can be changed. The theories of male supremacy have been challenged and it has been proved that there is no historical or scientific evidence for such explanations”.[3] It is evident that there are several biological differences between men and women but these differences cannot become the basis of any sort of sexual hierarchy due to  which the male can be seen as more dominant over the women. The question on the origin of patriarchy was answered by the traditionalists too, by stating men to be seen as dominant in every aspect. “Even while rejecting the notion of divine creation of male superiority, “androcentric” sociologists and anthropologists have continued to insist that the male-dominated family is coextensive with human society, that even at its very beginning ‘man the hunter’ held sway in the social world and instituted co-operative and productive relations while his wife tended the home fire; and this basic situation has quite naturally continued ever since”.[4]


India being a rising global power in the 21st century, faces issues of women struggling for life and dignity in the society, they continue to be deprived of various opportunities even today. In every step of their life, women have to deal with several problems of gender inequality, and coping with such immediate problems just add up to their misery, this very oppression of the women created difficulty for rights as human beings. Females in Indian society continue to face challenges like domestic violence, unequal payment of wages, female foeticide, denial of inheritance, rape, sale, and trafficking of the girls, and so on. Fact that women are considered to be the weaker sex several acts are committed against them. Women have been perpetually subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

  • Dowry deaths of women at their matrimonial homes have increased over the past years. “Despite the implementation of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with the person responsible for marital cruelty against the women”[5], even then the cases are increasing.
  • Domestic violence against women is groomed in the patriarchal nature of the Indian society that supports such violence at home. Women face these brutalities due to the dominance of men at home. Domestic violence against women can be mentally in the form of abuse, and public humiliation and can be physical in the form of hitting or slapping. The majority of cases involving violence against women in India are linked to the dominance of domesticity.
  • Sexual harassment at the workplace and unequal wages are other major problems that women of the nation face in their lives. The initiative on sexual harassment of women at their workplace in India started with the Supreme Court’s landmark case Vishaka and Others v. the State of Rajasthan, in the case, it was held that:

“Equality in employment can be seriously impaired when women are subjected to gender-specific violence, such as sexual harassment in the workplace. Therefore, the states include in their report information about sexual harassment, and on the measure to protect women from sexual harassment and other forms of violence of coercion in the workplace.” [6]

Furthermore, under the ambit of the above case, “The Vishaka guidelines were put forward in the year 1997, however, it was the passage of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act that helped in translating these guidelines into concrete rules that are to be implemented”[7]. Even today in India, the issue of sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a huge topic of discussion. Proper provisions for women have never been successfully implemented because of societal taboos that are still associated with sexual harassment. In India, it is common to witness in both rural and urban areas, how females are being discriminated against in terms of payment of remuneration for their assigned tasks.

  • The number of rape cases in India has been significantly increasing over the last few years.


Due to the changing and evolving society, the drafters of the Indian Constitution made sure that our constitution is a flexible document and not a rigid one. Several landmark judgments, legislations, and regulations have been enacted to improve the condition of women in Indian society. Some of the laws which helped evolve the gender laws of today are the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, The Factories Act of 1948, Equal Remunerations Act 1948, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, apart from these many other laws that have been framed for the upliftment and development of women. Thus, the judiciary has appreciated the plight of women and the injustice that they have been facing in various walks of their lives and therefore, has tried to address them by framing such guidelines and policies.


Practical steps are to be taken in terms of reducing gender inequality. Apart from the legislation the social structure and the patriarchal hegemony has to change. One of the key building blocks in this would be, the confidence-building measure, which needs to be imitated to make women feel confident about their abilities and strengths. Education, health care, economic empowerment, equal opportunities, and proper status are the key takers on which the country should focus to create a difference in the lives of Indian women.

Author(s) Name: Rishika Sharma (National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam)


[1] Radhika Jajoo, ‘Women vs Patriarchy: Challenges women face at work and what can be changed’ India Today (New Delhi, 18 October 2020)

[2] Omvedt Gail, ‘The Origins of Patriarchy’ (1987) WS 70.

[3] Abeda Sultana, ’Patriarchy and Women’s Subordination: A Theoretical Analysis’ (2010) 2

[4] Omvedt Gail, ‘The Origins of Patriarchy’ (1987) WS 70.

[5] Section 498-A: Swinging Between Extremes to Find the Perfect Balance? (2018) 4.2 IJLPP 73

[6] Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241

[7] Implementation of Vishaka Guidelines: Post Vishaka Judgment, (2014-15) 1.1 IJLPP 104