“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg
The past week proved to be a celebrated one as three women among nine judges took oath as the Supreme Court Justices. With this the Apex Court now has four women justices. Elevation of three women judges to the Apex Court is unprecedented and made a historic moment for gender representation.
So why is it being termed as this magnanimous moment for the country? The Judiciary is dynamic and is given the pedestal of the guarantor of the law. The judiciary will not be able to eliminate the doubt if the judiciary, itself is represented as the bulwark of gender discrimination.
According to the World Economic Forum Report on Global Gender Gap 2021, Iceland has topped the chart for the 12th time by being the most gender equal country in the world. Iceland did not achieve it magically; in fact policies with a strict aim to clear the gender gap were put to sea. Some remarkable steps include- The law in Iceland states that the board of a company should have at least 40% women and there exists a separate Ministry on Gender Equality whose task is to research and advocate laws on gender equality. Iceland has set the standards of gender equality by integrating one of the quintessential elements of development of a nation.
It has been a long lost battle for women, especially if we look at the Indian scenario, India has been Independent since 71 years and yet the Apex Court could witness only 8 women Judges, the first one being Justice M Fathima Beevi, this speaks volumes about the representation of women in Judiciary. This depicts that the entry of women into the arena of policy making have been obstructed and it was overshadowed by entitlement and biasness. However, the current election of women being promoted as Supreme Court Judges sends a robust message across all genders and communities that it is inclusive and accessible. The election of women in judiciary will not only ensure equality in terms of representation but will also strengthen the trust of the people in the authority of justice.
It should not be mistaken that the women justices only enhance the representation of the female in judiciary in fact the women justices around the world has proved their worth by giving various notable and remarkable judgments.
If we glance at various reasons as to why women even after 71 years of Independence could not make it to the Judiciary, several reasons stem out of it.
Female candidates may often be hesitant to apply due to lack of empowerment and fears of harassment and rejection, there are various opposition, gender roles and stereotypes attached to the position of women and the lack of training and outreach.
There is a vital need for women in Judiciary as the composition of judiciary must reflect the composition of the society. Women judges tend to have more comprehensive and ardent approach towards the decisions they take which also includes awareness about the people affected as a consequence of that decision. The lived experience of the Women judges assists them in taking a practical perspective about any decision.
Judiciary has always been the torchbearer of impartiality and reform. With this auspicious step taken in the positive direction of change, it will influence not only one but many aspects of development. It is time for the courts to become more diverse and shed methods that no longer serve to diversification and inclusivity. The existence of new faces and their voices gives hope that this is just the inception of new India.
Ishita is a final year law student, with a penchant for reading autobiographies and dancing. She loves debating and has been a National level Debator. She is going to be a first generation lawyer and is very keen on building a career in litigation.