A new study about women in politics by Professor Parimal Maya Sudhakar, Head of the School, MIT School of Government, MIT World Peace University reported the disparity between the number of male and female politicians in India.
The study revealed that in India, women in politics still struggle to become change-makers and that reform is required to ‘break the glass ceiling’. According to the World Bank, in 2021 the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments was at a disappointing 14 per cent. The highest proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in 2021 was 61 per cent in Rwanda.
Why Do We Need Women in Politics?
The Economic Survey 2022 that was released in January revealed that in 2019-2021, the number of females per 1000 males was 1020 in India. This means that India has a greater population of women than men, but that is not reflected in the parliament.
In 2018, Reuters surveyed about 550 experts on women’s issues regarding which of the United Nations member states were the most dangerous for women.
Out of the 193 UN member states, India was ranked as the most dangerous for women. It was ranked as the most dangerous on three issues: The risks women face from sexual violence and harassment, Cultural and traditional practices and Human trafficking.
In a country where the sex ratio favours women and where women’s safety is a serious issue, women in politics would greatly benefit the condition of women in India.
What Is Enabling Gender Disparity In Indian Politics?
Gender stereotypes and discrimination are the two largest hurdles for women in politics. Even though there have been female political leaders, most have not enjoyed the same notoriety nor have been put upon a pedestal as male politicians in similar positions have.
Low literacy rates for women serve as another barrier. According to the World Bank, the literacy rate for women ages 15 and above in 2018 is 66 per cent. For men, the literacy rate is 82 per cent. This disparity and the lack of education for women, especially women in rural areas make it harder for them to deviate from unpaid work to a publicised life in politics.
Suggested Reading: Girls Learn Early That They Don’t Have Much Of A Place In Politics: Research
How To Improve Female Participation
Women’s organisations have focused on women’s empowerment, such as women’s education and financial independence. Education and financial independence give women the freedom to pursue their interests, and the knowledge they need, and they provide financial support in their endeavour.
Reservation for women in politics has been a huge stepping stone towards improving the number of women participating in politics.
Reservations For Women In Politics
The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, also known as the Women’s Reservation Bill ensures that one-third of the seats in local governing bodies and the Rajya Sabha are reserved for women. The seats reserved for women are rotated to ensure that each seat has an equal chance of being reserved.
In 1993 for Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), the local governing bodies in India, one-third of the seats are reserved for women. In 2010, the Rajya Sabha passed the bill, meaning one-third of all seats in the Rajya Sabha were reserved for women. The Bill is pending in the Lok Sabha.
A study reported that after women’s reservations were established, political participation in women went from 4 to 5 per cent to 25 to 40 per cent.
Some political parties also promise reservations for women and women have created their political parties. The United Women’s Front Party was created in 2007 and advocated for a 50 per cent reservation in parliament for women.