Women Representation in Politics : A Step Towards Gender Parity

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Women representation in politics- step towards gender parityWomen are increasingly being politically elected to be heads of state and government. According to World Economic Forum's annual global gender gap index studies, India has ranked in top 20 countries worldwide for many years, with 9th best in 2013 - a score reflecting more women's participation in India's political process than Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, France and United Kingdom. Women have held the posts of president and prime minister of India, as well as chief ministers of various states. Indian voters have elected women to numerous state legislative assemblies and national parliament for many decades. To combat gender inequality in politics, the Indian Government has instituted reservations for seats in local governments. Women turnout during India's 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men. Thus in the present research the author would be dealing with the increasing role of women in politics in India as it is believed that Increasing women's representation in the government can empower women and it is most importantly necessary to achieve gender parity.This paper will shed light upon the following aspects:Role of women in politicsWomen and politics- A Historical BackgroundInitiatives taken by the nation to represent her in Indian politicsInternational perspective on women role in politicsConclusion & suggestions


Women Representation In Politics- Step Towards Gender Parity

I. IntroductionWe employ least, those whom we educate most. We see this to be particularly true when we look at the comparatively poor record we have in India in advancing women to the most senior decision-making positions. We, in India, have an appreciable educated female population currently; however we do not use this talent to the best effect. Broad psychological research as of late demonstrates that decisions made through the coordinated effort of the two genders are the best decisions. Yet numerous associations still don't sufficiently sustain or nurture their female ability and talent to guarantee that there is gender balance in senior administration positions. Ladies are still under- represented on State and corporate boards.Gender parity in politics can be characterized as the determination to guarantee equivalent access to elected office for both Women and men. Gender Parity is an answer for different types of resistance that bar women from accomplishing more noteworthy obligations and responsibilities, especially in the political circle. Tending to equivalent participation in decision making is acknowledging the privileges of women and men to partake and have a voice in arrangements strategies and decisions influencing their future. Such participation is extensively comprehended to incorporate social, political and financial investment and requires a dynamic part by all subjects of society, including women, to shape their future.The concept of empowerment is based on the enhancement of women participation in the political arena. It attends to the totality of having decision making power of the women. In the present situation, the participation of women in the politics is imperative for their overall liberation, strengthening and empowerment. The study uncovers the past and in addition the current political status of women.

II.Women and Politics- A Historical BackgroundThe Indian Woman's entry into the political arena was more a matter of incident and accident than a matter of design and premeditation. It was integral to their traditional role of wife and mother. The politics of Indian women, and the story of Indian women in politics, are such intimately interwoven factors, that it is indeed difficult to separately define the one from the other. The participation of India women in political life can be traced back to their involvement in the organizations such as theBharat Stree Mahamandal, formed in 1910 and focused on helping women escape oppression from men; Women's Indian Association (WIA), the National Council of Indian Women (NCIW), and the All India Women's Conference (AIWC) formed in 1917, 1926, 1927, respectively. The work of all these organizations was focused on the eradication of the social problems of women and their education. The AIWC had adopted a strong nationalistic perspective as it felt that women needed equal rights to play their full and legitimate role in the national affairs, otherwise all other rights might become illusionary.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Ilina Sen, Women's Politics in India in Raka Ray (eds), Handbook of Gender (New Delhi: Oxford University Press 2012) p 519- 538]

If we look at the number of women elected to the assemblies, the number often appears larger than it is because of the personalities involved. The first assembly had very few women, about 2 percent, but included Masuma Begum who later became the minister of Social Welfare and deputy leader of the Congress Party; Renuka Ray, a veteran social worker; Durgabai Deshmukh, Chair of the Central Social Welfare Board. Accounts from the time suggest that men in the assembly listened carefully to their speeches.III.Role of Women In Politics- Present Position In India During the recent election campaign, many political parties including the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP, expressed a desire to strengthen women-friendly laws and address the stubborn gender imbalance that pervades the countrys political arena. Even though women form close to half of the population of 1.2 billion, they are under-represented in all political positions. Currently, there are only 61 women out of a total of 543 MPs that make up the lower house of parliament. This was reflected in the recent elections, during which only 632 women ran for office, compared to 7,527 men[footnoteRef:3]. Thus the actual representation in what is called the worlds largest democracy remains low. This is hardly proportional representation in the worlds largest democracy, says Delhi-based sociologist Dr. Pratibha Pande, former professor at the Delhi University[footnoteRef:4]. [3: Neeta Lal, Womens Political Representation Lagging in India accessed 25 October 2014] [4: Ibid]

Mamta Banerjee, J.Jayalalitha, Uma Bharti, Vasundhara Raje Sindhia, Sushma Swaraj, Rabdi Devi, Mayawati and last but not the least the two young MPs Agatha Sangma and Supriya Sule are the names of well known women politicians in India. Mrs. Sheila Dikshit has been elected the CM of Delhi thrice, Mrs. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil was holding the post of the President of the biggest democracy in the world and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi following the footsteps of her mother-in-law is heading INC. Though today the number of female politicians is less as compared to male politicians but they seem to be standing at more dominant and powerful positions.IV.Initiatives Taken By The Nation To Represent Her In Indian PoliticsTo combat gender inequality in politics, theIndian Governmenthas institutedreservationsfor seats in local governments. The Constitution (73rd & 74th Amendment) Act 1992, envisaged the reservation of seats for women in Panchayats & Municipalities[footnoteRef:5]; these amendments were made in order to improve the position of women especially at the village level and thus, providing an opportunity to women in the political field. [5: Kumar Narender, Constitutional Law of India (Faridabad : Allahabad Law Agency 2004) 620]

Women's Reservation Billor theThe Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, is a pending bill inIndiawhich proposes to amend theConstitution of Indiato reserve 33 per cent of all seats in the Lower house ofParliament of India, theLok Sabha, and in all statelegislative assembliesfor women. The seats to be reserved in rotation will be determined by draw of lots in such a way that a seat shall be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections. Since, there will be more women participation in politics and society, reservation for women is expected to increase opportunity for women; the political, social and economical condition of women is expected to improve drastically as a result.V. International Initiatives for Promoting Women's Role In PoliticsThere exist a considerable number of internationally agreed norms and standards regarding leadership and political participation of women. With the United Nations Organizations founding Charter its support for the womens rights started. However, it was during 1970s that the International feminist movement started to gain momentum when the General Assembly declared 1975 as the International Womens Year and first World Conference on Women was organized to be held in Mexico City. In 1979, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), included commitments under Article 7 on political and public life and Article 8 on representation upholding womens right to participate in the public life. The United Nations Economic and Social Council Resolution, 1990 called on Governments, political parties, trade unions, and professional and other representative groups for adopting a 30 percent minimum proportion of women in the leadership positions in order to achieve equal representation for women. Womens Political Participation21st Century Challenges was also the theme for a meet organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New Delhi. Women politicians and representatives of civil society from all regions were engaged by the meet, it concluded that women cannot reach full equality with men in any sphere until gender parity is reached in governance.[footnoteRef:6] [6: Rajaput Pam Womens Political Participation in India: An Agenda for Empowerment in Pramila Kapur (eds), Empowering the Indian Women, (Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broad Casting, Government of India 2000) 227-228.]

VI.Conclusion & SuggestionsAccording toWorld Economic Forum's annual global gender gap index studies, India has ranked in top 20 countries worldwide for many years, with 9th best in 2013 - a score reflecting more women's participation in India's political process than Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, France and United Kingdom[footnoteRef:7]. Indian voters have elected women to numerous state legislative assemblies and national parliament for many decades. The fact that women make up nearly 25 percent of the newly sworn-in cabinet augurs well for the womens movement. [7: Women's political participation in India


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