Jun 6, 2019 in Sociology
Women Work Rights in UK and India

Women work rights dilemma is an important issue of the modern world. The struggle for women's rights has been going on for a long time. Labor rights constitute an important part of general rights, as a decent work provides independence and freedom of choice for women, enables self-realization. Therefore, the research of women labor rights is quite relevant.


This research can be indicial, even emblematic in case of comparing the two countries: India and the UK, because they represent two almost opposite examples of labor rights practice. Britain is a highly developed country, which represents Western culture. At the same time, India is a developing country of culture of the East. In Britain, labor rights of women are represented not perfectly, however they are on the one of the highest levels. The country provides for its citizens’ employment opportunities, minimizing sexual identity. On the contrary, India is a country where women work rights are poor; they constantly face opposition of culture and require large-scale development. However, the issue of gender inequality is common regarding the both countries. Britain is closer to its solution, but the process is not completed, while India is just at the initial stage of the struggle for gender equality in employment. This social problem important to these countries. Women work rights are infringed as a result of gender discrimination and non-governmental initiatives can improve the situation in the future. To confirm this thesis, it is worth to reveal the extent and structural factors of the problem, and investigate efforts to reduce the issue in both countries.

Extent of the Problem in the Both Countries

Magnitude of the issue shows that it is more persuasive in India. In both countries, the task of labor rights is to enable women to earn money for life on an equal basis with men. In Britain, women occupy 49.5% of the working population, which indicates almost complete equality with men in employment regarding quantity. In India, the prevalence of the problem highlights the percentage of working women: the number of 24.8% officially working (unofficially it rises up to 38%) provides evidence of the problem of full employment opportunities for women. Thus 70% of working women were subjected with infringement of labor rights at work in India and 24% - in the UK. So women were got an equal opportunity with men in similar positions in only 30% and 74% cases.


Besides different capabilities comparing with men there is additional issue. It is the function of motherhood, which a woman, according to the popular verdict should combine with employment successfully. It is the social part of the work rights of women, which inhibits career development, reduces job opportunities and in some way leads to the infringement of rights in both countries. In India, the problem is widespread. In turn, there are derivative problems more likely in UK.


Britain confronts women with a choice between career and motherhood because of the higher level of labor rights ensuring and higher competition in the labor market. Primarily young British women want to get education, build a career and support themselves financially, only then they raise children. A typical British family has 1-2 children. Parents raise their children themselves or hire a nanny that enables women to return to work without losing a career. Thus, pregnant women may not get higher position. Women in early pregnancy get less profitable offers comparing to men.


In India, the problem is more widespread because the combination of employment and family building looks completely different. For Indian women work is an opportunity to ensure children financially and give them chance on education. By the age of 20-25 years, when the woman in Britain begin to build a career after colleges and universities, Indian women are without education and they already have three - four children. They also should make provision for parents. Employment in such conditions is a way to survive, so women are forced to agree on any kind of work environment even with violation of labor rights.


Thus, there is obvious gender difference of the relationship of motherhood and employment in developed Britain, where motherhood competes with a career, and India, where employment is on the border with the surviving. However different structural factors for this problem should be developed.

Structural Factors in Each Country

Britain as a developed European country is characterized by globalization trends, particularly migration. The pressure of migrants on the labor market is one of the main factor explaining the problems in the area of women's labor rights. Mainly this factor influences on job preservation at the time of the decree. Working conditions of pregnant women in the UK are better. Without matter of experience on the current workplace a woman has the right to take time off for antenatal examinations and consultations. They have benefits as this time is paid at the normal rate. The employer is obliged to eliminate all possible risks to health of mother and the unborn child. If the employer can not eliminate the risk or offer an alternative position, he must suspend her on full salary.


 However, the high taxation in Britain provokes pressure on employers especially in times of crisis. Social payments for women are an additional burden, respectively employers try to avoid them. Discrimination against women on maternity leave by reducing working hours is widely practiced among British employers. Every year, fifty thousand British women lose their jobs during maternity leave. The costs for suits and individual labor disputes in Employment Tribunal is 1,200 pounds, which is not always available to the employee.


Young mothers feel unavailability of kindergartens and employers still do not always offer work on a flexible schedule. In addition, the ability to send children to kindergarten is complicated. The reason is the same factor of migration, because kindergartens are forced to take firstly children of migrants as unprotected part of the population.


So, gender discrimination against women exists in both countries. In Britain, the wage gap between men and women exist. It is of 19.1%, so the ability to pay of British women are significantly lower.


Since 2008, the number of underemployed women increased almost twofold, to 789 000. One of the eight women currently working in the so-called "zero hours contract", which does not guarantee a minimum number of hours of work, but requires an employee to be always ready.


One of the last factors that influenced the situation in the sphere of gender inequality, was the privatization of the public sector, which had a negative impact on the situation of working women.


Another prerequisite for discrimination against women in hiring and firing is following. Women are provided with more social and labor warranty on legislation, so employee faster fires woman. 


In India, the situation is more compounded. The main factor provoking the problem is the patriarchal structure of society. Most girls are married very early. The law let to do it in the age of 18, however the number of them do it earlier and keep early marriage in secret. Most Indian families educate only sons because of poverty. So women only from rich families in the big cities can get a good education and employment. Indian families live as large hostel: several generations in one house. Thus, children are forced to make a financial provision for parents, since a pension can be got only by former government employees. In such circumstances of absence of education, early motherhood, custody of their parents, women are not able to use their labor rights.


Another structural factor is a state policy in India. Due to the fact that the problem of population is not relevant for India, parents do not get child benefits. Although the law provides facilitated working conditions for pregnant women, but they are provided mostly in large cities. In practice, in industry and agriculture pregnancy of woman becomes her problem. A large number of the population creates a high level of competition in the market, and employers choose maximum hard working employee. Often women hide the pregnancy to avoid losing job. So they work on the general labor conditions, without benefits.   


If to speak about gender inequality, urban women's employment is less than 10% and most engages in heavy physical labor. Such women tend to come from lower-caste villagers, they migrate to the city in search of employment. In the private sector, women earn from 50 to 75% of men's wages. Labor legislation on equal pay applies mainly to public sector employees (7.5% of women), where they have the most protected position.


Poor women belonging to lower castes, are forced to work physically on an equal basis with men. They crush stones, descend into the mine, spun wool, do pottery work, plow earth. All these are made in addition to household duties: bringing the water to feed the animals, cleaning the house and looking after children. Women do everything the same as men, with a significant difference: their work is valued much less. Pregnancy is not a worthy cause for the interruption of work. Otherwise, women can lose jobs. Many Indian women usually give their earnings to their husbands. Moreover, they are paid with cash. They do not have bank accounts, which would confirm that it is their money. The proportion of women in banking operations is only 3%.


Thus, the gender factor in employment remain valid and common to both countries. In Britain and India, there is a difference between salary because of gender. In India, the problem is more acute. However, the public is interested to some extent to reduce the social problem. Therefore, efforts to eliminate it should be characterized.

Efforts to Reduce the Social Problem

The main governmental initiative, which has been applied in the UK, is the adoption of respective legislation. UK Labour legislation consists of many basic acts of the Government: Employment Rights Act (1996); National Minimum Wage Act (1998) and The Employment Relations Act (1999). Official guidance on maternity provisions regarding women also exists. These laws have been successful in some extent.


In the UK, there is the Equal Opportunities Commission. Labour relations in the country are governed by the employment contract. The role of central control is mainly carried out in the field of protection of workers against discriminatory and unjust actions of the employer. However, there is a very liberal labor market with minimal intervention of the legislature, as well as the lack of hard administration in UK. Therefore, governmental initiatives are not so effective and the issue still needs efforts.


India, in its turn, also has a number of governmental initiatives in the field of employment. The government has not yet adopted a specific law, namely the law on anti-discrimination in the workplace. However, many of the existing laws provide the prohibition of discrimination. The private sector also performs these laws. The law on the minimum wage in 1926 provides minimum wages for unskilled and semi-skilled workers (largely for women, as they mostly do not have ducation). The law on equal pay for work of 1976 guarantees equal pay for work of equal value, including women. Along with the law on maternity leave 1964, Act of labor conditions of workers of tobacco industry in 1966 provides special conditions for women workers, which also apply to the private sector. Sexual harassment is widespread in India. Act on employment in industry 1946 provides, that sexual harassment in the workplace is a misdemeanor, for which the employee becomes subject to disciplinary action. However, such governmental initiatives were not effective. The above-mentioned structural factor of patriarchy weakens legitimate legislative efforts. Therefore, non-governmental initiatives will play in the future an important role in the both countries.

Non-Governmental Initiatives as the Future of the Social Problem in Next Ten Years

 Measures to improve the labor rights of women in Britain as a developed country, will take place under the influence of non-governmental organizations at the legislative level. Under the new law on equality, many British firms will be required to publish details of the hourly wage gap between men and women. This law is for companies that employ 250 people or more. Thus, it will help to solve the problem of gender inequality in wages. In addition, individual personalities began to operate. With the support of non-governmental organizations, they have filed several lawsuits in court on the subject of salary differences between men and women. Such examples can be used as a precedent according English law. New initiatives in cooperation with case law will allow to solve the problem for the next ten years. It will be much harder with migration factor. Britain is actively reducing the number of possibilities to migrate to the country. But the number of migrants is essential. For the next ten years on the issue of labor rights it will remain a negative factor. So, future of the issue of women working rights has ambiguous future, however NGO’s and private initiatives will have strong impact on it within following years. 


Indian legislation in the labor law requires reforms and their implementation requires strict public control. In India initiatives to protect the rights of women in particular in the field of labor began to organize in NGO. One of them is SEWA, a work of which aims to draw attention to women and their integration into the economy. Today SEWA has over 700,000 members in 7 states in India.


SEWA will continue to integrate women through the strategy of their work, which combines wrestling and development. It is the most likably, that it will work on several fronts, based on the needs and priorities of the organization. In the few several years it may be the trade union struggle, the joint services of the economic, organizational issues, such as banking and credit, health care, child care facilities, the provision of shelter, legal advice, insurance, training at the Academy of SEWA, research and communication services.


Another NGO -  Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) sets a goal to provide 30 per cent reservation of seats for women workers. The national project to help maternity allocates 500 rupees on each of the first two births. It is expected to get some educational help from this NGO, as the connection between Indian culture of patriarchate and women working rights (women rights at all) is strong enough. However, it is forecasted, that educational work with the population of India (including the lowest casts) in connection with economical help will ensure awareness of citizens regarding the issue. 


Thus, namely the work of social organizations, initiatives and programs will be able to change the position of women's labor rights in the future. Food issues, economic development and the enormous employment potential of female labor will act as a catalyst for reforms in India, and private initiatives – in UK.


An analysis of women work rights in the UK and India shows that it is a gender large-scale problem, which is presented in the countries and societies with different levels of development. In both countries, this question is based on gender discrimination. \the problem needs urgent solutions. Britain has better situation, however the nature of the factors and reasons of such gender discrimination is, first and foremost, economical and the globalized. It needs internal reforms. India held earlier stages of the problem, as it was evidenced by factors of cultural and social character. However, the United Kingdom because of the liberal market cannot strongly influence legislation. India, in its turn, can not affect legislation because of culture, especially patriarchal system. Therefore, exactly the work of social NGO, initiatives and programs will be able to change the gender discrimination of the labor rights of women in the future. It confirms the thesis put forward.



Related essays