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Less women representation in global bodies indicates less gender parity

  • Published
    11th Oct, 2022
Context

With an another situation of Skewed sex ratio, a study highlighted that the delegations of World Health Assembly (WHA) do not have enough representation despite women making up 70-75 per cent of the healthcare workforce. Several countries may take a century on an estimate to reach equal representation.

Key highlights of the Study:

  • In the last decade, the American and the European regions achieved gender parity, while the growth in the African region has remained stagnant at 25-30 per cent for the past two decades.
  • Eastern Mediterranean Region has recorded significant improvements but is just about touching 25 per cent of women representation, while Southeast Asia is inching closer to the 50 per cent.
  • However countries like Bangladesh, Iran, Central African Republic, Kuwait and Afghanistan could take 100 years to achieve 50% representation of women. 

Global Scenario

  • As of now, there are 28 countries where 30 women serve as Heads of State and/or Government.
  • Just 13 countries have a woman Head of State, and 15 countries have a woman Head of Government.
  • Only 21 per cent of government ministers were women, with only 14 countries having achieved 50 per cent or more women in cabinets.

The five most commonly held portfolios by women ministers are: Family/children/youth/elderly/disabled; followed by Social affairs; Environment/natural resources/energy; Employment/labour/vocational training, and Women affairs/gender equality.

Reasons for Skewed Representation:

  • Gender stereotypes: The role of managing household activities has been traditionally assigned to women. The division of labour is one of the major reasons behind Gender stereotyping.
  • Lack of Political Education: Education influences the social mobility of women. Formal education such as provided at educational institutions creates opportunities for leadership, and impart leadership essential skills, which is mainly lacked for women in early days itself.
  • Dual Responsibility: The Women are assigned with work burden as they have the compulsion to manage home and work both. This affects the work-life balance for women.
  • Social Conditioning: They have to accept the dictates imposed on them and bear the burden of society.
  • Lack of Women friendly Infrastructure: As women needs adequate infrastructure and friendly environment to work without any exploitation, leads to lack of participation as it is rarely observed.

Situation in India:

As per the latest Election Commission of India (ECI) data:

  • As of October 2021, Women represent 5% of the total members of the Parliament.
  • The scenario for women Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) across all state assemblies in India is even worse, with the national average being a pitiable 9%.
  • In the last 75 years of independence, women’s representation in Lok Sabha has not even increased by 10%.

Recent Government Initiatives:

  • The Women's Reservation Bill 2008: It proposes to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 1/3rdof all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women.
  • Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions: Article 243D of the Constitutionensures participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions by mandating not less than one-third reservation for women out of total number of seats to be filled by direct election and number of offices of chairpersons of Panchayats.

What measures are required?

  • Gender-balanced workforce: There is critical need for a gender-balanced workforce and increased representation of women at all levels, including decision-making levels, 
  • Affirmative Action: Action taken by the government by reserving certain percentage of seats at state legislature and parliament for women.
  • Women Empowerment:To provide education and equal health access in all spheres of life can empower women to participate in politics and public sphere. Both education and health are important for women to participate in Central, state and Panchayat election and other public field.
  • Enforcing property rights: Despite legal rights for women to inherit paternal property women are denied property rights and thus they lack economic resources. There is need to reinforce with in society and women about their right to property.
  • Social awareness campaigns: Long held prejudices against women need to be dismantled through concerted social campaigns with help of educational institutions, media, religious leaders, celebrities, political leaders etc.

 

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