Pushing Gender - Inclusive Politics : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 22/09/2022

Relevance: GS-2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Key Phrases: Women’s representation, Association of Democratic Reforms, Women ministers, Political and civic rights, Women rights, Constitutional democracy, Articles 325 and 326, Political participation, Local self-government, Woman in politics, Gender-inclusive.

Why in News?

  • Till today, women across the world remain underrepresented in politics. This needs to change.

Electoral representation of women in India:

  • India has fallen several places in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global ranking of women’s parliamentary presence, from 117 after the 2014 election to 143 as of January 2020.
  • Data on women’s representation in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha suggest that though the participation of women voters in elections has increased greatly with time, the proportion of women representatives in the Parliament has remained considerably low.
  • The highest number of women representatives in the Lok Sabha so far was elected in the 2019 elections which is just around 14 percent of the total membership.
  • The scenario of women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha has been equally low, and despite relative improvement over the years, has not yet crossed 13 percent of the total membership of the house.
  • The scenario in the state legislative assemblies has been worse where the average percentage of women representatives remains below 10 percent.
  • The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) in their 2020 study have observed that “less than a tenth of 50,000 candidates contesting central and state elections are women.”
  • The number of women ministers in India also has increased with time but such proportion also remains considerably low in comparison to their male counterparts.

Gender equality in Indian democracy:

  • India is the largest and the most vibrant democracy in the region that has accorded equal political and civic rights to both men and women right at the inception of its post-colonial independent existence as a constitutional democracy. Like.
    • Apart from the political right to vote and contest elections laid down in Articles 325 and 326, Part III of the Indian Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of men and women.
    • In the Directive Principles of State Policy, economic empowerment has been ensured by providing for equal pay for equal work for both men and women as well as provisions for human conditions of work and maternity relief.
    • For the local self-government at the third tier, i.e., in panchayats and municipalities, the passage of the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts in 1992 provided for the reservation of one-third of the total number of seats for women in these bodies.
    • The policy of reservation of seats for women has led to a phenomenal rise in the political participation of women in the governance institutions at the local level.

Reasons for Low Representation of women in Politics:

  • Gender stereotypes:
    • The role of managing household activities has been traditionally assigned to women.
    • Society always discouraged women to move outside their stereotypical roles and participate in the decision-making process of the country.
  • Lack of political knowledge:
    • Women also do not participate in political debates and discussions. It has been seen that women lack interest in the field of politics and do not want to enter the ‘dirty game’.
  • Economic conditions:
    • The political participation of people is also determined by the economic condition of their families. The cultural, economic, and sociological background of a person greatly affects political participation.
    • Women are confined to their homes and the major decisions of their life are taken by their father, brother, or husband.
  • Lack of Political Education:
    • Education influences the social mobility of women with opportunities for leadership and leadership essential skills.
    • Because of a lack of understanding of politics, they do not know about their basic and political rights.
  • Lack of Resources:
    • Because of their low proportion in the inner political party structure of India, women fail to gather resources and support for nurturing their political constituencies.
    • Women do not get adequate financial support from the political parties to contest the elections.
  • Illiteracy
    • Literacy among Indian women is 65.46%, much lower than literacy among men reported at 82.14%.
    • Illiteracy limits the ability of women to understand the political system and issues.
  • Lack of Confidence
    • Lack of confidence in themselves is one of the main reasons for their under-representation in formal political institutions.

Steps to bring woman in politics

  • Develop Competency of Women Candidates.
    • Mentoring and training programs can prepare women for political work and enhance their political skills.
    • Local-level positions can equip them with the skills necessary to rise in regional and national politics. Thus, initiatives focused on encouraging women to enter local politics can be particularly effective at raising women’s participation in political processes.
  • Government Support of Women’s Political Participation
    • State funding of initiatives promoting women’s participation in political parties can be undertaken by holding seminars, training events, lobbying to get more women elected, and providing networks for women politicians.
  • Increase Women’s Access to Political Institutions
    • Work with political parties to identify potential women candidates, increase public demand for women party candidates.
    • Train election management bodies and election observers to identify and address barriers to women’s voting prior to elections and promote trust and integrity in the electoral process.
  • Increase Political Party Support for Women
    • Meetings at convenient and friendly places and at times when women can attend.
    • Financial support for caring responsibilities or the provision of child care.
    • Separate women’s wings or organizations within parties.
  • Tracking Women’s Representation
    • Regular reliable data on women’s representation is necessary to track progress and identify challenges and successes.
  • Transform Attitudes
    • Creativity in raising awareness is essential for making the initiative visible and popular. For example, in Croatia, street performances and a “pillar of shame” was utilized to publicize political parties that did not comply with gender equality principles.
  • Establish Quota Systems
    • Half of the countries of the world use some type of electoral quota for their parliament.
    • Quotas represent an efficient mechanism for increasing the number of women participating in political processes. However, quotas should be contemplated with other measures. Quotas help to promote a “critical mass” of women into politics.

Way forward:

  • The protracted demand for the Women Reservation Bill 2008 which mandates for one-third reservation of seats for parliamentary and state legislative assemblies has been languishing for a long time due to a lack of political consensus on the issue.
  • The lack of institutional push and the inability of political parties to facilitate the rise of a considerable section of women leaders in national and state-level politics remains a pressing concern for gender-inclusive politics in India.
  • Despite the positive changes in local-level politics, without adequate women representation in the higher echelons of politics, systematic inclusion of issues of holistic women empowerment in the policy-making and idiom of governance, is difficult to materialise.
  • Institutional accessibility and removal of structural impediments, can increase political mobilisation of women.
  • A more gender-inclusive discourse of political participation would ensure descriptive as well as substantive representation of women in institutions of politics and governance.

Source: ORF-Online

Mains Question:

Q. Discuss the desirability of greater representation of women in the politics to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness.