How women can be represented in politics
The Women’s Reservation Bill has sparked debate on the efficacy of quotas within political parties versus reservations in Parliament and State Assemblies for increasing women’s representation in politics. The recent Assembly elections in Rajasthan shed light on the challenges faced by women candidates and the effectiveness of gender quotas in improving political participation.
Performance of Women Candidates in Rajasthan Elections
- Low Success Rate: Despite the Women’s Reservation Bill, women candidates from both the Congress and BJP in the Rajasthan Assembly elections had a low success rate, indicating challenges in securing electoral victories.
- Party-wise Performance: Both parties fielded women candidates, but the success rate of these candidates remained lower than their male counterparts, raising questions about the effectiveness of quotas within political parties.
- Decrease in Women MLAs: The number of women MLAs in the current Rajasthan Assembly decreased compared to the outgoing Assembly, highlighting the limited impact of gender quotas on increasing women’s representation.
Voter Preferences and Electoral Dynamics
- Preference for Male Candidates: Analysis of voter behavior suggests a preference for male candidates over female candidates, regardless of party affiliation, indicating deep-rooted biases in electoral choices.
- Performance Against Opposite Gender: Women candidates faced challenges when pitted against male candidates from rival parties, leading to lower success rates and highlighting the existence of a voter bloc favoring male representatives.
- Lack of Winnability: The reluctance of political parties to nominate women candidates is influenced by the perceived lack of winnability, especially in closely contested elections.
Limitations of Gender Quotas and Contagion Effect
- Ineffectiveness of Gender Quotas: Increased ticket distribution to women candidates has not translated into higher representation in legislatures, as seen in the West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
- Absence of Contagion Effect: The provision of gender quotas by one party does not incentivize others to follow suit, indicating limitations in promoting women’s participation through electoral quotas.
- Policy Implications: The failure of gender quotas to address the underrepresentation of women in politics highlights the need for alternative strategies to enhance women’s political empowerment.