The low female representation in the Parliament makes us question whether people resist electing female politicians in the first place. However, a recent study by the Pew Research Centre says that two-thirds of people in the US believe it's easier for men to be elected to high political office than women. The most common reason cited by participants (61%) is that women who run for office have to do more to prove themselves than men. While many others are of opinion that women get less support from their party leaders.
The findings of this study are applicable to our country as well. In 2017, the world ranking of the number of women parliamentarians placed India at 148th rank. Today female parliamentarians occupy barely 12 percent of the Lok Sabha seats. This paltry representation is obviously a result of failure to find electoral backing and even getting a ticket from respective parties to contest in the elections.
This gap in representation stems from sexism in our society
As the Pew research says, it is much harder for female politicians to win over the trust of the general public.
They have to work harder than their male counterparts, both in and outside the party to be in the race. But why is it so hard for female politicians to convince people that they are worth their vote? The answer lies in the fact that politics worldwide, is still a male arena. Men are seen as natural leaders while it is assumed that women are only good at walking one step behind them. Male politicians are able to emulate the leadership qualities which the electoral seeks better during campaigns, because they encash upon the biased mindset.
- A recent study by the Pew Research Centre says that two-thirds of people in the US believe it's easier for men to be elected for high political office than women.
- The most common reason cited by participants is that women who run for office have to do more to prove themselves than men.
- Another reason for this wide gap is fraternising among male politicians.
- It will be a good start if women don’t have to face rejection in their own parties, stemming from sexism.
Another reason for this wide gap is fraternising among the male politicians and the impregnable brotherhood, which supports their kind exclusively. Rarely do women find backing from such men, who are sadly still in the majority. This is significant because promotion in the ranks and scoring election tickets runs on favouritism. Due to their gender, women find themselves mostly lacking support from conservative stalwarts and influential male political figures.
The landscape of global, national and even regional politics is slowly changing. It’s not as if things are as stagnant as they were twenty or even ten years ago.
Is merely letting these women into the good books of kingmakers in political parties enough? Well it will be a good start if women don’t have to face rejection in their own parties, stemming from sexism. Elected governments too need to make an effort in trusting important ministries in hands of women (like we see in the current cabinet). Because when these women perform their duties exemplarily, they send out a positive message to the electorate that women are capable leaders. With the increasing drive for equality and inclusion, it is easier to convince voters to give these female politicians a chance at power. But that power will indeed come with a responsibility of good governance, to sustain the momentum of change.
Picture credit- iKNOW Politics
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.