Women Have to Slog Quite Hard to Prove Themselves: Indian Advocate Ishanee Sharma

© AP Photo / Channi AnandMuslim women return after getting fresh henna decorations on their hands on the eve of Eid al Adha, in Jammu, India, Sunday, Aug.11, 2019.
Muslim women return after getting fresh henna decorations on their hands on the eve of Eid al Adha, in Jammu, India, Sunday, Aug.11, 2019.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
Addressing an event organised by the Lady Advocates of the Supreme Court recently in honour of nine newly appointed judges, Indian Chief Justice N. V. Ramana called for ensuring a 50 percent reservation for women at all levels of the judiciary. He also favoured this reservation being given across all law colleges in the country.
Even as the Indian Constitution provides the "Right to Equality" as a fundamental right to all citizens in the country, it is women who have to work quite hard to climb up the ladder due to the social discrimination that sadly still exists, a noted Indian advocate opines.
According to noted advocate Ishanee Sharma, talk of gender equality is commonplace in India. But despite several reforms, women are still subjected to discrimination.
Advocate Sharma, the managing partner of Ishanee Sharma Law Offices, in an interview with Sputnik talked of the advantages of women getting an equal opportunity in the judiciary and other spheres of life.
Sputnik: Indian Chief Justice N. V. Ramana recently advocated reservation for women at all levels of the judiciary. If this were to become a reality in the near future, what advantages do you foresee for women?
Ishanee Sharma: This is the first time that such a thing has come into the mainstream. It is itself a positive thing because women have been subjugated for centuries.
A woman faces discrimination at various levels when she tries to go out to work and carve a niche for herself. This becomes even worse when the person who is discriminating doesn't even realise it because it is so ingrained in the system [of Indian society].
So, I think equal opportunity for women should not only be in the judiciary but in all decision-making roles.

It is important because women will only be able to understand their problems, way of thinking, and way of understanding things. You can't expect the oppressor to think like the oppressed.

For the rules to be made and changes to be brought that favour the oppressed, the actually oppressed person needs to come up and be in a position of decision making.
I would applaud CJI Ramana for speaking about a lot of things that matter. This kind of sensitivity from the chief justice of India assures us that we are heading in the right direction.
Sputnik: There is a certain percentage of reservations for women in almost every sphere of India and there are several women parliamentarians too. So, what necessitates a 50 percent reservation?
Ishannee Sharma: 50 percent reservation or any (type of) reservation at all for women is needed. Because whoever is made to sit at the top of the decision-making authority needs to have empathy for the population at large. They need to understand the problems that women face and need to bring reforms for women. But it does not really happen.
Because a lot of people use it [reservation for women] as an instrument to just fill in the existing gaps [in place of actually benefitting them]. The [main] control or power is still in the hands of men.
For instance, in local or village-level polls where there is a reservation for women, men nominate their wives or mothers for the post. However, the situation is much better when we talk of the upper hierarchy (meaning being elected in state legislatures or the federal parliament, as then husbands or sons cannot start taking the decisions on their behalf - ed.note).
A woman has to work very hard to prove to the world that she can step out of the house. Every woman has to be meritorious to seek an opportunity. But it is not the same in the case of a man.
With a 50 percent reservation in the judiciary we might have a woman chief justice in India for the very first time. So, if this happens in every sphere things will get better for women.
Sputnik: Don't you think that rather than giving reservations we should be talking about providing them with education because the rate of education among women is low?
Ishanee Sharma: For a woman, being educated is not good enough to survive. There have been several women who could have become judges on the Supreme Court or High Court. But they couldn't only because they were women.
Though there is undoubtedly a need to promote women's education, for a woman to become educated will feel like being more frustrated if their [career] opportunities are curtailed purely due to their gender.
So, education is a separate concern. But reservations in the judiciary are very important. Because there are so many women-centric matters where we need to understand what a woman needs.
Sputnik: You talked of discrimination against women in India. Why has it prevailed despite a lot of reforms and calls from various sections of society about equality?
Ishanee Sharma: Just because it's comfortable. It is comforting for a certain segment of society. Equality goes down very well for the person who has been subjugated but it doesn't go well for the oppressor.

Equality for women doesn't sit well with a major chunk of the male population.

Women have always been a stronger gender. If you check the number of female foetuses who have survived premature delivery, it is always more than male foetuses. There have been various studies which have stated that males are a weaker gender by genetic code.
So, for centuries, society has harnessed the energy of women in a way that they use it for procreation and doing all the household chores and most of the outdoor work in the case of farming too. What women are facing today is the centuries of being wired in a wrong way to not stand up against violence and atrocities.
Sputnik: Because women will now receive more opportunities in the Indian Army too and a call for equal opportunity in the judiciary is also being made, what changes will be required for this to become a reality ?
Ishanee Sharma: The inclusion of women in the Indian Army is an extremely wonderful step. However, I personally think that sooner or later women will realise their physical, social, financial, and academic potential to the fullest.
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