Low political representation of women in India vs: Women’s Reservation Bill Act 2023

Low political representation of women in India vs: Women’s Reservation Bill Act 2023

Source – The Hindu and PIB.

General Studies – Indian Politics and Governance System, Social Justice, Political Representation of Women in India, Women’s Reservation Bill 2023

Why in the News ?

  • Recently, after the Indian Parliament passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Bill or Women’s Reservation Bill Act, 2023 and it was decided that 33 percent participation of women in the mainstream politics of India has been decided, the debate has ended whether Providing reservation within political parties or in Parliament and state legislatures could be the best route to increase women’s representation in Indian politics.
  • The Nari Shakti Vandan Bill or Women’s Reservation Bill Act, 2023, the 106th constitutional amendment to the Constitution of India, reserves one-third of the seats for women in the Lok Sabha, state legislatures and the Delhi Assembly. This will also apply to seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
  • Legislative Assembly elections were held in Rajasthan on 25 November 2023 to elect 199 members of the 200 members of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly following the death of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Cooner. Whose counting of votes and announcement of election results has taken place on 3 December 2023. The election for the remaining 1 seat has been postponed. According to the Election Commission of India, this time 74.13% voting has been recorded in Rajasthan.
  • The assembly elections held in Rajasthan showed that the only way to increase political participation of women is to provide them reservation in Parliament and state assemblies. Women candidates of both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have performed disappointingly in the elections.
  • The distribution of tickets to women by all political parties in the Rajasthan Assembly elections was highlighted and criticized by all. Major political party BJP fielded 20 women candidates in the assembly elections, out of which only 9 women candidates could win the assembly elections. The success rate of BJP’s female candidates was 45%, which was much lower than the success rate of Bharatiya Janata Party’s male candidates.
  • Out of 179 male candidates contesting in Rajasthan Assembly elections, i.e. total 60% male candidates, 106 male candidates have registered their victory.

Important constitutional changes made by the Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 :

  • Article 330 (A): The Bill has included Article 330 (A) which is inspired by the provisions of Article 330 on reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Article 332 (A): This Article, introduced by the Women’s Reservation Bill, provides for reservation of seats for women in every State Assembly.
  • Amendment in Article 239 (AA): It has been added in the Bill that this law made by the Parliament, Article 239AA (2)(B) will also apply to Delhi, National Capital Territory.

Key features of Women’s Reservation Act 2023 :

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 aims to reserve one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures for women.
  • This Act will also reserve seats for women among the reserved seats. The allocation of reserved seats will be determined by the authority appointed by the President of India.
  • This Act will also reserve one-third seats for women in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories.
  • The reserved seats will be allocated by rotation in different constituencies in different states or union territories of India.
  • Period of Reservation: This Act will remain in force only for 15 years from the date of commencement.

Background of Gender inequality in politics :

  • Women have been historically marginalized in politics: Women, who constitute almost half of the world’s population (49.58 percent), have historically been politically marginalized in both developed and developing countries.
  • Social reforms started in the 19th century: Starting from the middle of the 19th century, social reform movements not only attempted to bring about comprehensive improvements in the social status of women in the society but these movements were also successful in improving the social status of women.
  • United Nations Charter of 1945: The Charter of the United Nations Organization (UNO), started in 1945, supports women’s rights.
  • International Bill of Rights of Women: With the rise of the feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s, in 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is often considered an international bill. Article 7 of this convention includes the rights of women and the right of women to hold political and public office.
  • Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): In 2000 : UN member states adopted the Millennium Declaration and outlined eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015, including promoting gender equality. It was done.
  • Achieving gender equality under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Empowering women: In January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on women’s right to equal participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Target 5 of which aims toachieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, thereby ensuring “full and effective” rights for women.

Current status of women’s representation in world politics :

  • Above average representation: Women’s representation in politics in the Americas, Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa is at or above the global average.
  • Below average representation: In Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), women are below average in politics.
  • Global average female representation in politics: As of May 2022, the global average of women’s representation in politics in the national parliaments of different countries was 26.2 percent.
  • Diverse representation in Asian countries: The situation in South Asian countries is worse than others. IPU data for May 2022 shows that women’s representation in politics was 34 percent in Nepal, 21 percent in Bangladesh, 20 percent in Pakistan, 17 percent in Bhutan and 5 percent in Sri Lanka.
  • The political representation of women in India’s Lok Sabha (lower house) has been slightly less than 15 percent.
  • According to 2021 World Bank data, female representation in Afghanistan’s previous parliament was 27 percent.
  • According to the United Nations, as of September 2022, 28 out of 193 UN member states had 30 women serving as elected heads of state and/or government.
  • Paradox in active participation: There is a contradiction between the rapid increase in women’s participation as voters in elections and other political activities and the slow growth of women’s representation in parliament.

Major components to assess the representation and direct participation of women in Indian politics :

Following are the main criteria or major components to assess the representation and direct participation of women in Indian politics –

  • Women as voters: In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019, women voted almost at the same rate as men, which was seen as an important contribution towards gender equality in Indian politics and India’s progress. It was also called the “silent revolution of self-empowerment” of women in Indian politics. The increased participation of women in democracy and mainstream politics of India, especially since the 1990s, is attributable to several factors.
  • Women as candidates: With the changing times in India, the number of women candidates in parliamentary elections has increased significantly, but their ratio is still very low compared to male candidates. In the Lok Sabha elections held in the year 2019, only less than 9 percent of the total 8,049 candidates contested the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Women’s representation in the Indian Parliament: Women’s participation as voters has increased significantly in elections in recent years. The data on women’s representation in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha shows that the proportion of women representatives has been very low compared to their male counterparts.
  • The proportion of women representatives elected to the Lok Sabha was the highest so far in the 2019 elections, and was less than 15 percent as a proportion of total MPs.
  • The number of women candidates and MPs varies significantly from state to state and from party to party.
  • In the current Lok Sabha (17th), Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have the highest number of women MPs. In percentage terms, Goa and Manipur had fielded the highest proportion of women candidates.

Major reasons for low female representation in Parliament and State Legislatures:

  • Inaccessibility to family-political ties or institutions: Most political parties in India may, in theory, promise to provide adequate representation to women in their party constitutions, but in practice, Indian political parties give very few tickets to women candidates. Let’s give. A study found that a large section of women who get party tickets have family-political connections, or are ‘dynastic’ politicians. With normal avenues of access into mainstream politics limited, such political connections are often the entry point for women.
  • Perception that women have less chances of winning elections in India: Even at present, it is widely believed in the political circles of India that women candidates have less chances of winning elections as compared to male candidates. . As a result, various political parties provide fewer tickets to women in elections.
  • Challenging Structural Conditions: Election campaigns in India are extremely demanding and time consuming. Female politicians with family commitments and child care responsibilities often have difficulty participating fully.
  • Extremely unsafe environment for women: Women politicians face frequent insults, inappropriate comments, abuse and threats of abuse, making participation and contesting elections extremely challenging.
  • Expensive and expensive electoral system: The electoral system in India is extremely costly and expensive. As a result, election financing is also a major obstacle in India as many women are financially dependent on their families. Contesting parliamentary elections can be extremely expensive, and requires massive financial resources to be able to mount a strong contest. In the absence of adequate support from their parties, women candidates are forced to arrange their campaign financing on their own. This is a major challenge that hinders their participation.
  • Internalized Patriarchal System: Indian societies are known to have an ‘internalized patriarchal system’, where many women consider it their duty to give priority to family and home rather than political ambitions.

Importance of women’s participation in law making process :

  • Political empowerment of women: Legislative representation is fundamental to political empowerment, enabling participation in the law making process. Legislatures play an important role in enhancing debates and discussions on various aspects of governance and holding the government to account.
  • For gender equality: A key indicator of the extent of gender equality in parliamentary politics is in providing appropriate representation to women in the Parliament of India.
  • Women bring diversity and skills to politics: According to political scientist Anne, “Women bring diverse skills to politics and provide role models for future generations; They appeal for justice between the sexes.
  • To facilitate women’s specific interests and policy-making: Inclusion of women in Indian politics facilitates the representation of women’s specific interests in state policy-making and creates conditions for a revitalized democracy that is based on representation and participation. Bridges the gap between.
  • Less likely to be criminal and corrupt and highly effective: Women legislators perform better on economic indicators than their male counterparts in their constituencies, a study found. Additionally, women legislators are less likely to be criminal and corrupt. They are more influential and less susceptible to political opportunism.

Conclusion/ Solution :

  • The organic change towards giving place to women in Indian parliamentary politics has been slow. There is a need to provide more women’s representation on these platforms to change the discourse on governance and policy-making and bring India closer to becoming a truly inclusive and representative democracy.
  • Adequate representation of women is extremely important in the politics of a democratic country. India is one of the largest and most flexible parliamentary democracies in the world. Since India’s independence, the representation of women in the Parliament of India has gradually improved. It is an important component and indicator to evaluate progress in bridging gender disparities in the country.
  • At present, providing quota for women in Parliament and State Legislatures appears to be the only way to increase their political representation.
  •   Despite the patriarchal mindset in India, the country is witnessing an increase in women’s political participation, in parallel with higher levels of education and increasing financial independence.
  • The number of women contesting parliamentary and state assembly elections is limited.
  • Wherever the state or political party has provided constitutionally mandated reservation of seats for women at the local self-government level, the representation of women has increased rapidly.
  • Even after 75 years of Indian independence, political parties, the primary means of electoral politics, remain largely inaccessible and difficult for women to contest parliamentary and legislative elections.
  • It should be made legally mandatory for every registered political party to give one-third of the total number of party tickets distributed in every election to women. To make this strategy successful, the Representation of the People Act, 1950 will have to be amended.
  • If party-level reforms prove difficult for political parties in India, the Women’s Reservation Bill 2008 will have to be revived and the Nari Shakti Vandan Bill or the Women’s Reservation Bill Act, 2023 followed, which would provide for women to have a one-third parliamentary seat. And reservation of state assembly seats is mandatory.

Practice Questions for Preliminary Exam:

Q.1. Consider the following statements regarding low political representation of women in India.

  1. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed to promote gender equality.
  2. The actual structure of Indian society is not based on patriarchal nature, but India has a matriarchal system.
  3. In India, women’s usual avenues of access to mainstream politics are limited. That is why often only ‘dynastic’ women are able to enter politics.
  4. The Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 aims to reserve two-thirds of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.

Which of the above statement/statements is correct?

(A) Only 1 and 4

(B) Only 2 and 3

(C ) Only 1, 2 and 4

(D) Only 1 and 3 

Answer – (D)

Practice Questions for Main Exam:

Q.1. Highlighting the main reasons for low political representation of women in India, discuss how the Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 unties the ‘knots of patriarchy’ or is it a violation of equality of opportunity.


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