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Women in Politics

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    8th Feb, 2022

Context

While numerous political advancements have occurred throughout the world in recent decades, the most important influence has to be on women’s involvement and representation in political roles.

Background

  • In India, historically women are not given primacy in the decision-making process; they face institutional, systemic exclusion in the decision-making process. 
  • Political under-representation is one of the important factors for the poor developmental outcomes of women.

Set in this context, here an effort has been made to analyse the extent of political inclusiveness of women in governance.

Analysis

The current scenario

Women constitute almost half of the world population. Globally, they constitute 49.6 per cent of the total population as against 50.6 percent of men. As per Census 2011, India’s population constituted 48.5 percent of women and 51.5 percent of men. 

  • In a country with deplorable levels of women in the workforce, and social-cultural norms that heavily police women’s mobility and participation in public life, getting involved in electoral politics is a far-fetched dream for most women.
  • Politics is essentially a public act, and research shows that women’s ability to negotiate a space independent of the household is an important factor in deciding if or not they will be politically active.
  • In the recent polls, women made up 8 percent of all candidates in Assam and 11 percent in the other four states.
  • Roughly, one in every 10 individuals who contested the election was a woman.

ECI on women’s representation in Politics

  • As per the report of the Election Commission of India, women represent 10.5 percent of the total members of the Parliament.
  • The plight of women in the state assemblies is even worse, where they nearly account for 9 percent of the leaders.
  • Women’s representation in the Lok Sabha has not even grown by 10 percent in the last 75 years of independence.
  • Women workers abound in India’s main political parties, but they are often marginalised and refused a party ticket to run in elections. 
  • Global Gender Gap Report 2020
  • According to Global Gender Gap Report 2020, India ranks 112th in educational attainment out of 153 countries, which reveals a stark involvement of education as a factor that determines women’s participation in politics.
  • Women’s social mobility is influenced by their education. 

What hinders the inclusion of women in politics?

There are several factors responsible for the poor representation of women in Indian politics such as

  • gender stereotypes
  • lack of political network
  • financial strains
  • unavailability of resources
  • lack of political education amongst women in the country

Socio Cultural Factor

  • In countries like India Women are considered as the mothers and housewife and to participate in election are restricted due to patriarchal mindset of Indian society.
  • In India women are considered as a weak and they are restricted only to boundary of house.
  • Exclusion of women from Religious institution and religious leadership have impacted negatively on women’s status and restrict them to take opportunity to participate in politics and public life.
  • Lack of economic resources is the biggest obstacle to prevent to participate in politics and public life.
  • Due to family responsibility women spend far more time in home than men so lesser time to participate in politics and public life.

What measures are required?

  • Gender Equality:Women’s should have equal rights with men in the political, social, economic and cultural spheres. Even though constitution guarantees women equal right in all spheres socio-cultural factors need to be adapted to modern ethos of equality. Institutions of Governance like courts, police, administrative bodies etc. should focus on gender equality.
  • 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.
  • With the WEF 2021 report data staring in our face, the country must invest and commit towards this for a more promising future to meet its commitments towards achieving the UN SDGs. We surely do not want to wait for 135 years as per the WEF Global Gender Report 2021 to bring equality between men & women.

What is meant by Women’s Empowerment?

  • Based on the assumptions that women differ from men in their social positions and that those differences consist of asymmetric, unequal power relations between the genders, “women’s empowerment” refers to the process of increasing women’s access to control over the strategic life choices that affect them and access to the opportunities that allow them fully to realize their capacities.
  • Majority of Indian women politicians are highly educated such as  Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister of India; Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal; Mahua Moitra, an MP from West Bengal; Atishi Marlena, an MLA from Delhi; Mayawati,  former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. 

 Special Initiatives for Women

  • National Commission for Women: In 1992, the Government set-up this statutory body with a specific mandate to study and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and legal safeguards provided for women, review the existing legislation to suggest amendments wherever necessary, etc.
  • Reservation for Women in Local Self -Government: The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Acts passed in 1992 by Parliament ensure one-third of the total seats for women in all elected offices in local bodies whether in rural areas or urban areas.
  • The National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991-2000): The plan of Action is to ensure survival, protection and development of the girl child with the ultimate objective of building up a better future for the girl child.
  • National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001: The Department of Women & Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development has prepared a “National Policy for the Empowerment of Women” in the year 2001. The goal of this policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women.

Conclusion

Women participation has suffered for ages and looking at the grave circumstances we are in, these raw steps are nugatory, therefore, there is an urgent need for policies that can ensure better representation of women in the country such as more strict policies and implementation of girl-child education in the country.

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