“In the coming fifty years we will see more women president. A woman is and will be able to do any political job that a man can do!”

-Smt. Pratibha Patil, The first woman President of India.

Introduction

Discrimination against women has been a global trend. It exists in every corner of every nation irrespective of the religion, age, caste, creed, education and culture. There are so many restrictions posed by exclusion and vulnerabilities against them. With the advent of the 21st century, women are playing fresh remarkable roles in all the spheres of life. From being a mother to being a CEO, from working in the kitchen to speaking in the parliament, they can do it all! Women participation in politics has been contemplated as one of the prime steps towards their empowerment. It is one of the effective tools to bring gender equality and an authentic democracy into mankind. Over the years there has been an improvement to a certain extent as far as women representation in politics is concerned. However there are a lot of atrocities still existing against them which are limiting their involvement and engagement in many significant aspects of the nation.

Status Of Women

Throughout the history of the world there have been too many peaks and valleys attained, in terms of the status of women. Women, who were once upon a time glorified as an epitome of Shakti (Power) in India, have faced innumerable socials evils in the recent times. The fact that girls are killed even before birth indicates the hatred and cultural preference of the orthodox society. According to the United Nations Report, an estimated 45.8 million girls are missing from India’s population. Every year in India approximately 1.5 million girls are married off very early. Also, many girls are deprived of education. The ratio difference between the male and female literacy rate is more than 20%. There is a sharp increase in crimes against women as well.

In the past men often dominated the society as they were considered as producers and were expected to earn for the family while women were titled as subordinates and consumers. They were pushed into domestic household work which was given little or no value at all. They were not considered eligible to make decisions for the family and their opinions and views were seldom recognized. So acceptance of their right to political involvement or participation seemed far next to impossible.

The Progressive Era: Women Stepping Into The Political World

It all started in the 1920s. Women began coming out of their houses and started questioning the inequalities against them and demanded various reforms and rights. The women’s movement gained momentum during India’s battle for freedom against the British. This period supplied enormous golden opportunities to women for their debut in the political domain.  In 1950, the Universal Suffrage granted women the ‘Right To Vote’. In the due course of time women gathered courage and interest to participate in the legislative assembly meetings which led them to the Parliament.

Is There A Fair Political Representation Of Women In India?

The United Nations, observes that for the attainment of true democratic 

spirit, political participation of women is regarded to be of utmost significance. Making 

provision of equal treatment to women in political participation is considered to be 

meaningful and effective and should begin from the grassroots level 

The United Nations, observes that for the attainment of true democratic 

spirit, political participation of women is regarded to be of utmost significance. Making 

provision of equal treatment to women in political participation is considered to be 

meaningful and effective and should begin from the grassroots level 

The United Nations, observes that for the attainment of true democratic 

spirit, political participation of women is regarded to be of utmost significance. Making 

provision of equal treatment to women in political participation is considered to be 

meaningful and effective and should begin from the grassroots level 

Since the emergence of autonomy we have encountered so many remarkable moments for women. Today in almost all the countries women have the Right to vote. A considerate number of countries have women leading the political desk. However the progress is very gradual and asymmetrical. In January 2019, globally women held just 24.3% of all parliamentary seats and 20.7% of ministerial positions. As of in June 2019, there are just 11 women serving as head of the government. As far as India is concerned, it ranks 149th in a list of 193 countries in terms of women representation in the lower house of the Parliament (Lok Sabha). In fact participation of women has never exceeded 12% in the Lok Sabha and is less than 11% in assemblies since independence. The 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, promulgated in 1993 granted reservations to women in politics. No doubt there has been an active contribution by women voters but the numbers are not proportionate with the electoral powers given to them. 

Why Are The Figures Skewed? : Difficulties Faced By Women In Politics

There is a general belief that women are not interested in politics or they are just proxy or dummy candidates and there are less chances of victory for them. The All India Democratic Women’s Association claims that there are crores of elected women representatives and party workers existing across various states of India for the past 25 years. Women have held the posts of the President, the Prime Minister of India as well as the Chief Ministers of various states. So this groundless notion is rooted in a complete fallacy. Women do not get adequate cooperation from the party. There is a limited access to finance, training and political contacts to contest elections. They are underrated, side-lined, rejected and many a times regarded as ineffective to make decisions or bear responsibilities. In addition to that they face huge criticisms and are pushed away. Sometimes they are only allowed to be a part of the women committees and are excluded from the other committees. They are also threatened with violence and abuse. Women face hurdles in the social arena as well. Their political career depends on their family support. There are innumerable cultural norms imposed on them. Sometimes it becomes difficult for them to balance their personal and professional lives. At times they are compelled to resign from their posts.

How Does Equal Representation Of Women In Politics Matter?

Equal treatment and participation of women in the political world is of utmost value and it should begin right from the grass root level. We live in a society where men and women have different apprehensions, perceptions and commitments and both of them are worthy of getting a voice and representation. Equal citizenship includes the equal role of all genders in our political system. When we talk about qualifications, 53 % women leaders are graduates while its only 48 % amongst men. The United Nations study on all assembly constituencies in India revealed that the women led constituencies showed a higher economic growth. Studies have indicated that women have worked in areas of education, health and sanitation with great results.

Battling The Odds: Inspiring Women

We have countless examples of women around us leading the throne. Smt.Indira Gandhi and Smt. Pratibha Patil were the first and till date the only females to serve as the Prime Minister and the President of India, respectively. Similarly we had noteworthy leaders like Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Smt.Jayalalitha and Smt.Sheila Dixit who created wonders at the political desk. Presently we have women representatives working at various levels.

Concluding Remark

Today the entire world is applauding the victory of a single woman who has added so many firsts to her name. Kamala Harris’s win is not just a triumph for her own country but it is a successful achievement for the entire women community all around the globe. If we want politics to be varied, speculative and inclusive, then gender should be excluded. Candidates should be chosen or elected on the basis of their capabilities and potentialities.

There is an urgent need to fill the gaps existing in the educational and employment zone. The society needs to deconstruct the typical frame of mind towards women. There is a newly discovered passion and confidence amongst women to go beyond domestic work and occupy political positions. They should be inspired, supported and encouraged to achieve these marvellous leadership spots. I strongly believe that women can achieve anything when they have compassion combined with hard work. We shouldn’t let the flame flicker out. More women should come up as country heads or party leaders rather than just party workers. Lastly to mark the words of Michelle Bachelet, “A better democracy can be achieved when women not just have the Right to elect but also have the Right to be elected!”

References:

1.Student, First Year, LLM, V.M.Salgaocar College of Law, Goa.

2.https://relatably.com/q/pratibha-patil-quotes(last visited Nov.10,2020).

3.https://theprint.in/india-accounts-for-45-8-millions-of-worlds-missing-females-over-last-50-years-un-report/451545/ (last visited Nov.10, 2020).

4.https://www.unicef.org/research-and-reports/child-marriage-in-india (last visited Nov.10, 2020).

5.https://censusindia.gov.in/2011-common/censusdata2011.html (last visited Nov.10, 2020).

6.https:// iknowpolitics.org/en/learn/knowledge-resources/women-politics-map-2019 (last visited Nov.10, 2020).

7.https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures (last visited Nov.11, 2020).

8.https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2012.pdf (last visited Nov.11, 2020).

9.https://theprint.in/opinion/in-india-constituencies-that-elect-women-show-significantly-higher-economic-growth/64121/ (last visited Nov.12, 2020).

10.https://www.rd.com/list/empowering-quotes-women-politics/(last visited Nov.13,2020).

(Author: Adv. Siddhi Gokuldas Naik)

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