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Women’s Political Participation in India

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Gender division in our society is seen as a natural and unchangeable concept. The roles of men and women in society have a hierarchical division according to their physical and social strengths, it is thought that men are biologically more suitable for technical and labor works, whereas, women are capable of household work only. But in fact, More than a biological, it seems to be a social concept, enforced by some social expectations and stereotypes that are present in our society. 

Concept of Gender Division

Throughout history, women have always been discriminated against on the basis of gender. There are some pre-decided roles for men and women in society, for example, women presumptuously looked to be more suitable for the roles like homemakers, teachers, or nurses. Indoor work like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and clothes, and even raising children are assumed to be the works of women. But when it comes to technical jobs or working outside, these tasks are seen as unsuitable for women. Whereas, whereas men are considered ideal for public labor and technical jobs.  

The same goes with the political structures, the roles of women in politics are mostly minimal. Even in earlier times, women’s participation in elections, or public affairs was very low or in some cases, even none. Only men were allowed to vote or take part in contests for Public offices. But, gradually the time changed. People got aware of the severity of the issue and demanded a change. However, the only way to bring change in society is to enhance women’s political and legal status and improve their educational and career opportunities. 

Political Representation of Women

In today’s time, the issues related to women’s well-being and legal rights became a political concern. Many social and political groups have tried to raise the attention of the government toward the issues of women. However, regardless of these efforts,  such issues seem not to be attended adequately. Such behaviors of the government have led to many social feminist movements, where women openly raised their voices to address such issues and demanded equal rights in society. 

Although the result of such movements has led to some improvements and social changes, still many believe that such conditions can only change if women take charge of the power. Women can understand and address these issues more relevantly than anyone else. To bring out a change in society, they suggest that there should be more women as elected representatives. 

The percentage of women in political bodies has been historically low. In India, for example, in 2014, the proportion of elected women in the Lok Sabha reached 12 percent of its total strength for the first time. Their representation in state legislatures is less than 5 percent. Not only in India,  but the world average of women representatives is only 23.5 percent. Which is relatively low in comparison with male representatives. 

The only way to solve such a problem is to legally bind it to a certain proportion of women in elected bodies. Such arrangements can also be found in India’s Panchayati Raj. Women are given one-third of the seats in local government bodies such as panchayats and municipalities.

There are some women’s organizations and social activists, who are demanding similar representations in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. On Which, the bill has been presented in the parliament but is yet to be passed. Although gender division is a social issue, if expressed politically, it can also benefit the disadvantaged group as well as can bring out a change in social conditions. 

Role of Government

The government understands the situation and does have made some efforts to encourage women’s representation in political structures. Such as:

  1. The Indian government implemented the reservation law through the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in 1994 to reserve 33% of the seats in local government for women in an effort to address the issue.
  2. Local governments, such as Panchayati Raj institutions, ensure that one-third of the seats are reserved for female candidates. Reservations have been increased to 50% in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tripura, and Uttarakhand. In addition, the national government has proposed raising reservations in PRIs to 50% As a result of such legislation, there has been an increase in female political participation. Which eventually increased from 4.5 percent to 25-40%. Such a step allowed many women to come to light.
  3. The bill for women’s representation in Lok Sabha, through amendment 108th, has also been introduced in the national parliament, which demands the reservation of 33% of seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha for women; however, the bill is still in the process and has yet to pass.

While the government has taken some steps to improve the situation, the problem persists. The concept of reservations has the potential to increase women’s political representation, but there are some issues that are impeding progress. These include a lack of education and training, family issues, domestic violence, gender discrimination, and societal pressure. Women in India are not adequately educated or trained to understand governmental affairs and issues, which the government identified as a concern.

Women’s empowerment can be a significant step toward addressing such issues; the government recognizes the importance of empowering women and is taking steps in that direction. There are also some women’s organizations and groups that are working in the same direction. The other issue is poverty and illiteracy, which are regarded as the two most important socioeconomic factors impeding women’s development. This makes it impossible for them to run for public office or even vote. As a result, the government is addressing the issue by bridging educational gaps. And even combining some government programs for women under the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW). The NMEW’s mission is to “improve the economic empowerment of girls and women through skill development, microcredit, vocational training, and entrepreneurship.

FAQ on Women Representation

Question 1: What is the root cause of gender discrimination in India?


Indian society is a man-centric society, which is also a  root cause of gender discrimination in India. the patriarchal concept of Indian society makes women economically dependent on their male counterparts, which is itself a cause of gender disparity. 30% of the population in India is poor, of which, 70% of them are women. Gender discrimination in India had caused educational stagnation in girls.

Question 2: Does gender discrimination still exist?


Gender discrimination is prevalent in most societies and has a continuing impact on societal norms. Males are generally better placed in social, economic, and political hierarchies. Whereas, women are still struggling for their social and political rights.

Question 3: Which countries have the best representation of women in politics?


Some of the countries with a higher representation of women in public life are Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Sweden, for example, has a good track record of female representation in most institutions. Women currently make up 47.5% of Parliament members, 54.5% of ministers, and approximately 43% of municipal councilors in Sweden.

Question 4: What is the meaning of women’s right to vote?


It is not only a ‘Right to Vote’, but it also gives women an equal right to participate in decision-making, political activism, political consciousness, and so on. Women in India vote and run for public office and political parties at a lower rate than men. however, it still signifies the equal participation of men and women in the development of the nation.

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Last Updated : 13 Feb, 2023
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