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From women’s reservation to gender equality

  • Published
    28th Sep, 2023

Context:

Gender equality reform hinges on acknowledging unpaid work and fairly dividing household chores to ensure equitable progress.

Gender Representation in Indian Politics

  • Women's Reservation Bill: The recent passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament, offering one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, is a significant step toward achieving gender equality in Indian politics.
  • Global Gender Gap: India's current representation of women in Parliament, at around 15%, ranks it 141st out of 193 countries.
  • Moral Imperative and Consensus: Increasing women's representation in politics is widely acknowledged as a moral imperative, and the smooth passage of this law indicates a growing consensus on the importance of women's participation in governance.

Challenges and Contingencies in Implementation

  • Census and Delimitation: The effective implementation of the Women's Reservation Bill depends on the conduct of the next Census and subsequent delimitation exercises.
  • Legality of Contingency Clause: The legality of linking a law to an uncertain future event, such as delimitation, raises questions that may need to be addressed by constitutional courts, introducing further complexities into the reform process.
  • Societal Change: Achieving gender justice requires equitable sharing of household responsibilities, addressing the substantial burden of unpaid labour borne by women.

Building Capacity and Ensuring Effective Reform

  • Unpaid Labour Recognition: Recent research reveals the significant disparity in unpaid domestic labour, with women spending far more time on these responsibilities than men.
  • Capacity Building: As more women enter politics due to the reservation law, Lessons from initiatives like EMILYs List in the U.S. underscore the importance of mentorship, campaign guidance, and capacity-building efforts for women in politics.
  • Role of Government and Institutions: The National Commission for Women and the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women need to be restructured to ensure the law's effective implementation.
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