Over the last few months, there have been multiple instances where the Indian judiciary has intervened in the workings of the countrys prison administration system. In April 2022, it was reported to Justice SK Panigrahi that the toilets in prisons in Odisha werent fit for human usage and the food being provided was not fit for consumption. As a result, the high court ordered the state government to take steps to improve the living conditions of the inmates in jail. In another case, the Jammu and Kashmir high court was made to solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons. These instances amongst others clearly show that the Indian prison system needs an overhaul and major fixing.Most reforms in Indian prisons are carried out keeping male prisoners in mind as women make up only 4.16 per cent of the inmate population. The programmes and schedules in jails are mostly planned keeping in mind the needs and interests of male prisoners.Why women inmates need gender-sensitive reformsBeing a woman in Indian society is like a double-edged sword. One on hand, religiously and traditionally, women are considered to be the human version of goddesses. On the other, they deal with patriarchy and misogyny daily.In jail, women inmates are considered to be deviant (from womanhood), evil and unwomanly. Theyre held accountable on two counts: One against the law and the other against societal mortality. Keeping in mind the stereotypes that women are subjected to, criminal law theorists have put forth multiple theories as to why women conflict with the law. Some believe that it is a result of biological inferiority whereas others think PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) is to blame.Because there are fewer women than men prisoners, there are fewer facilities available for women. In 2018, it was reported that there are just 24 prisons for women in India. As a result, almost 84 per cent of women are imprisoned in small enclosures in general prisons where they dont have the infrastructure they need. A study found that 1,000 women were jailed in a place for 150 women and given just one soap bar to bathe and wash their clothes as well as utensils. Obviously, one can tell that the allocation of space and resources is highly disproportionate to the number of inmates.Another problem? Women are moved far away from their homes and kept in jails in other states. Some womenmore than 1,500are the main caregivers to their children as a result of which they keep the children with themselves in jail. Even then, prisons dont have the basic requirements for the proper development and education of children.On top of all of this, there is a massive dearth of female staff and officers in Indian jails. The result is that men are often responsible for the women prisoners, making the latter more at risk of harassment and assault. Plus, there is a shortage of trained medical staff and doctors in jail.Steps that can be taken to improve the reforms for women inmates in jail, according to experts New mothers, lactating and pregnant mothers should be put on a special diet. Mothers with children inside prisons should be given separate food for the child. Additionally, the correct development and education arrangements should be made for the child. Children should have access to a medical officer as per their needs. Programmes should be set up to help women inmates re-establish themselves upon release. This will help them to provide for themselves financially so that they dont have to resort to criminal acts. Body searches must be conducted as per clearly formulated guidelines.