7 PM | Women in Indian Politics: | 30 January, 2019

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Status of women political participation across globe:

  • Only 24 per cent of all national parliamentarians are women
  • Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians worldwide (61.3%)
  • Wide variations in the average percentages of women parliamentarians in each region
  • Nordic countries: 42.3%; Americas: 30%; Europe including Nordic countries: 27.7%; Europe excluding Nordic countries: 26.6%
  • Sub-Saharan Africa:23.6%; Asia:19.4%; Arab States:17.8%; and the Pacific:17%
  • Only 18.3 per cent of government ministers are women
  • Most commonly held portfolio by women ministers is environment, natural resources, and energy, followed by social sectors, such as social affairs, education and the family

Status of women political participation in India:

  • Lok Sabha have 64 (8 percent) and Rajya Sabha 27 (11 percent) women MPs (IPU and UN women report)
  • Out of the total 4,118 MLAs, only 9 percent are women
  • Between 2010 and 2017 women’s share rose 1 percentage point in its Lower House (Lok Sabha)
  • There are 72 lakh elected women representatives (EWRs) in PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions) which constitute 44.2 per cent of total elected representatives (ERs)
  • Women sarpanchs accounted for 43 per cent of total gram panchayats (GPs) across the country

Global Indexes measuring Women Political Empowerment:

  • World Economic Forum: Gender Gap Index: India rank= 108/149; Political Empowerment ranking 2017= 15; 2018= 19
  • United Nation Development Program: Gender Inequality Index: India rank= 127/189; Share of seats in parliament: 11.6%

Reasons for lower participation of women in Indian politics:

According to Economic Survey 2017-18: Reasons are::

  • Domestic responsibilities
  • Prevailing cultural attitudes regarding roles of women in society
  • Lack of support from family
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of finance

Other Reasons are:

  • Lack of will of Political Parties to provide adequate number of party tickets to women candidates for their better representation
  • Delay in passing of Women Reservation Bill providing 33% reservation in Lok sabha and state legislative assemblies
  • Lack of leadership training and limited involvement in decision making process

Benefits of Increased Women share in Politics:

  • Women legislators improve the economic performance of their constituencies 1.8 per cent more than male legislatures (UN University)
  • Research on panchayats in India discovered that the number of drinking water projects in areas with women-led councils was 62 per cent higher than in those with men-led councils
  • Better policy making: especially vulnerable sections related policies. Eg. In Norway, a direct causal relationship between the presence of women in municipal councils and childcare coverage was found
  • Higher economic growth: Research suggests that women favor redistributive politics and, thus, have a tolerance of higher taxes
  • Less Criminalization of Politics: research say women legislature three times less likely of having criminal charges than men legislature
  • Economic infrastructure: evaluation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana shows the share of incomplete road projects is 22 percentage points lower in female-led constituencies

Study of Women’s Reservation in Politics and Economic Empowerment:

Important Facts:

  • 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment act provided for one-third women reservation in all three tiers of panchayat
  • Hindu succession act 1976 and amended in 2005 provided equal right to daughter in ancestral property inheritance on par with son

Benefits of economic empowerment (land rights) of women:

  • Greater authority in the household decision making
  • Less likely to experience domestic violence
  • Better health and nutrition to children
  • Farm agricultural land more effectively
  • Yields greater output for their entire household

Positive Impacts of reservation in politics on economic empowerment:

  • Reservation increased frequency and magnitude of female inheritance Eg. frequency of female inheritance increased from 10.3 per cent to 16.3 per cent
  • Higher the political representation—-more the bargaining power in public and private domain—better the response from official stakeholders
  • Female elected leaders increase women’s ability to demand effective enforcement of economic rights through mobilizing political participation and women’s social solidarity
  • Marriage negotiations are sphere when women have shown maximal voice over the natal family’s distribution of resources mainly by young women capable of negotiating their rights


  • Only a subset of women can translate greater public, political voice into bargaining power for private, ancestral property
  • Enhanced backlash among men For Eg. increased willingness to sanction violent punishment to daughters and her marital family for marriage against father approval
  • Not beneficial to women who were already married at time of reform introduction as natal family consider implementation of such right as double burden

Probable Solutions:

  • Substantive equality for women in society requires major political, economic, and social reforms
  • Problem of traditional entitlements — men’s privileged access to rights and resources — must be tackled directly through social influence and persuasion
  • New rights can improve collective welfare if society recognizes that it creates opportunities and benefits for all

Way Forwards for enhancing women’s share in Indian Politics:

  • Passing of Women’s Reservation Bill 2008 which seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies
  • Institutionalization of Intra party democracy for wider pool of candidates including women
  • Further promotion of women participation at panchayat level through strengthening women self-help groups
  • Promoting girl’s participation in College/Universities student political parties and political debate
  • Strengthening women’s agencies and organizations for building a progressive society with equality of opportunities among all citizens

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/empowering-effects-of-women-in-politics/article26122124.ece

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