Men have a key role to play in the fight for gender equality, Supreme Court Judge DY Chandrachud said on Sunday as he called for the need to de-construct the stereotype of gender roles.
Justice Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge bench that allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, said violence and discrimination faced by females were compounded by people's "insensitivity to women's rights and issues".
He was addressing graduating students at the convocation ceremony of the Gujarat National Law University in the presence of his colleague from the Supreme Court, Justice AK Sikri.
"Women have to deal with shocking gender wage gaps, forms of violence and harassments, forced adherence to feminine, impossible standards of beauty, compounded by what I think might be the worst of all-- insensitivity to women's rights and issues," Mr Chandrachud said.
"The fight for gender equality cannot be fought by women alone. Men have a key role to play in demanding and supporting this societal shift by being a part of conversation and of the movement," he added.
Mr Chandrachud called for the need to de-construct the stereotypes of gender roles, an exercise that "must be practised every passing days".
The country is faced with "disturbing inequalities and disparities in access to opportunities, including access to education," the SC judge said and exhorted the law students to use their privilege to "try and change injustices of society".
"The same values which grant privilege to some rob others of their humanity. There is, hence, an urgent need to address this. And if you choose to remain a beneficiary and do nothing, you are complicit in furthering a grave injustice," he told the audience.
The judge said instances of a child being denied basic education because of his parents' financial status, a person being denied housing because of religion, a woman not getting access to public spaces because of her menstrual status, or a Dalit subjected to indignity present "glaring examples of the inability of our society to grant a citizen an equal and humane existence".
"The Constitution envisions an egalitarian society, but it is you the citizens, and particularly students of younger generation who can make this Constitutional vision a reality for the morrow," Mr Chandrachud said.
Addressing the gathering, Justice Sikri called for the need to "uphold the law and Constitution and save democracy" at a time when its values were "at stake" the world over.
He said judges have to perform "a vital role" at a time when the world is "undergoing transformation of a different kind", and when there is "backsliding of democratic values".
Justice Sikri called for bridging the gap between the law and the society and added that students joining judicial fraternity will have to perform these roles "in challenging days".
He told the students that while they should look to earn money in this "lucrative profession," they should also ensure the marginalised sections of the society get "social justice".
"The thing which can be admired about this profession is that you can earn a lot of money by maintaining moral, ethical values, which in some of the other professions one has to sacrifice," Mr Sikri said.
He advised the budding judicial professionals to keep their "humane aspect" at the heart of their career.
"That is what we have to do when we are taking up social causes," Mr Sikri said.
A total of 462 students graduated at the 9th convocation ceremony of the law university.