While the reservation for women in politics debate is still on, it is heartening to note what the few women legislators do during their tenure. A study conducted by UN University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) found out that woman MLAs work more efficiently than their male counterparts and are less corrupt.

The decadal study also stated that development in a constituency rises by 25% if a woman legislator holds office. They bring about better infrastructure like night-time lighting and roads. Also, there are less chances of women MLAs of committing crime. They also efficiently finish developmental projects.

“This perception that women MLAs are controlled by their husbands seems to be based mostly on a few publicised cases. There is no systematic evidence that would show this. Our results would certainly suggest that most women MLAs are able to pursue their own agendas,” said co-author Baskaran, TOI reported.

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Thushyanthan Baskaran, Sonia Bhalotra, Brian Min and Yogesh Uppal co-authored the paper and they accessed 4,265 state assembly constituencies across India between 1992 and 2012, spanning four elections.

“There are greater barriers for women to enter politics. Women who choose politics do so because their commitment to public service is higher than men. The study reflects that, and the good work that they do,”

The paper concluded that male MLAs have three times more possibility of having pending criminal charges as compared to women MLAs. Women MLAs accumulate 10 percentage points less assets per year while in office. And in case of funded village road contracts, women have a higher share of completed road projects than men.

While men and women legislators have equal opportunity to negotiate Central projects for road building in their constituencies, more women MLAs make it a point to oversee completion of these projects, it said.

Comparing the set of women and men MLAs, where both won by small margin of votes, constituencies with women legislators have 15% higher areas with street lighting. And this phenomenon oversees 1.8 per cent positive difference in GDP growth, researchers explained.

On generalisations based on gender, Association for Democratic Reforms co-founder Jagdeep Chhokar said that it is risky since the number of women in politics is so less.

“There are greater barriers for women to enter politics. Women who choose politics do so because their commitment to public service is higher than men. The study reflects that, and the good work that they do,” Chhokar said.

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