Viewing citizenship from a gender specific point of view envisages a change to a model that had been formed with men in mind. Women were deliberately ignored while formulating the classical theories of citizenship. Further, the important aspects of their existence were not included in considerations of social citizenship. Therefore, a gender based study of society has to necessarily include the experiences of women and their political modes of action. The feminists have ensured that social rights encompass domestic rights and responsibilities. Moreover, they have established that exclusion is the outcome of financial reliance in the family and suggest that household work should be taken into account while calculating the quantum of social benefits (Hobson & Lister, 2001).
The culmination of the various struggles for equality was the concept that things that are similar should be accorded the same treatment. Further, this concept held that factors like race, sex, colour or ethnic origin are not to be construed to comprise distinctions that deem certain persons to be sub standard or below par (United States v. Carolene Products Co). According to the principle of equal treatment people can be viewed just as they are and without allowing their gender or race to affect such an approach.
Unfortunately, the reality is otherwise and instead of such an abst...
Discrimination can be demonstrated only by making a comparison with a person of the opposite sex, whose status is akin to that of the dominant male. This clearly indicates that the so called gender neutrality is based on the characteristics of a woman in comparison to that of a male, which renders gender neutrality as nothing more than a mere male standard (MacKinnon, 1987).
The position of ethnic minorities is similar to that of women. They have to adopt the manners and customs of the majority if they do not wish to be discriminated against (Parekh, 1998).
The implication of this discussion is that no distinction exists in according equally good or equally bad treatment to women or ethnic minorities. Moreover, a general reduction in status is believed to have the same effect as an overall increase of status for a group of women or persons belonging to an ethnic minority (Clark v. Novacold, 1999).
After the war the Labour Party, which came to power, made a strong insistence on women being relegated a domestic role. Issues like equal career opportunities and pay were not accorded much importance and the perspective from which the work of women was viewed by this government was clearly displayed in the selection of one solitary woman, Ellen Wilkinson in the Cabinet by Clement Atlee the Prime Minister. The ministry allotted to her was that of Education. It was widely held that women were unsuited for positions of importance (Dean, 1991).
The main concern was to make jobs available to the men who had returned from the World War. Women were therefore, discouraged in all possible ways from continuing in employment. The younger women were adamant in their stance of not willing to lead a life of monotonous domesticity.