In politics and bureaucracy, women are severely under-represented

Source- The post is based on the article “In politics and bureaucracy, women are severely under-represented” published in “The Indian Express” on 13th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS1- Social empowerment. GS2- Vulnerable sections of the population

Relevance– Issues related to women empowerment

News– Despite economic growth, women’s participation in India’s economy, polity and society has not grown much.

What are statistics related to representation of women in the legislature?

As per data by the Inter-Parliamentary Union women make up 14.44% of the Lok Sabha in India. As per the latest report of the ECI, women represent 10.5% of all Members of Parliament as of October 2021.

For all the state assemblies, female MLAs’ representation stands at an average of 9%. India’s ranking in this regard has fallen over the last few years.

It is currently behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The data for May 2022 showed that women’s representation in Pakistan was 20%, in Bangladesh 21%, and in Nepal was 34%. Since Independence, women’s representation in Lok Sabha has not even increased by 10%

What is the status of women in bureaucracy in India?

The representation of Indian women in bureaucracy is also lacking. as per Indian Administrative Services data and the central government’s employment census of 2011, less than 11% of its total employees were women. In 2020, this reached 13%.

In fact, out of a total of 11,569 IAS officers entering service between 1951 and 2020, only 1,527 were women. Further, only 14% of Secretaries in the IAS were women in 2022. There are only three women chief secretaries across Indian states and union territories.

India has never had a woman cabinet secretary. There have been no women Secretaries of Home, Finance, Defence and Personnel, either.

As per UPSC, in 2019, 1,77,611 women appeared for the UPSC examination, and 1,534 women qualified. In comparison, 3,90,671 male candidates appeared for the exam and 10,311 qualified.

Women candidates are more likely to seek voluntary retirement from service, compared to men. Structural impediments to women’s empowerment make it difficult for them to be a part of the services.

Service conditions involving postings in distant cadres, patriarchal society and balancing family commitments along with the requirements of this job are social factors responsible for women opting out of the civil services.

Furthermore, there is a general perception that women should be preferred for “soft” ministries like Social Welfare, Culture, Women and Child Development.

What is the economic status of women in India?

Only 20.37% of MSME owners are women. 10% of start-ups are founded by females. 23.3% of women are in the labour force.

Further, the measurement of the female labour force is difficult. Most of the available statistics on India’s female labour rate do not include the unpaid work done by females.

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