Context: In 1952, in the first parliamentary session Indian Republic had 39 strong, intelligent, and passionate women leaders in its parliament
- India was leading the way in the fight towards more inclusive world democracies with 5.5% women representation.
- But 70 years post-independence, it seems we have strayed from that path.
Current stats: As per the latest Election Commission of India (ECI) data
- Women represent 5% of the total members of the Parliament.
- The scenario for women Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) across all state assemblies in India is even worse, with the national average being a pitiable 9%.
- In the last 75 years of independence, women’s representation in Lok Sabha has not even increased by 10%.
Lack of Political Education:
- Education influences the social mobility of women. Formal education such as provided at educational institutions creates opportunities for leadership, and impart leadership essential skills.
- Because of a lack of understanding of politics, they do not know about their basic and political rights.
- The role of managing household activities has been traditionally assigned to women
Work and Family:
- Uneven distribution of family care responsibilities means that women spend far more time than men in home and child-care.
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.
- Rise in criminalization, corruption, insecurity has driven women out of the political arena.
Absence of gender-neutral language
- For instance – in the Rajya Sabha, the Rules of Procedure continue to refer to the Vice-President of India as the ex-officio Chairman, stemming from the lack of gender-neutral language in the Constitution of India
- The alarming degree of usage of masculine pronouns assumes a power structure biased towards men.
Lack of gender-neutral Acts
- Acts have made references to women not as leaders or professionals (such as policemen), but usually as victims of crimes.
Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions:
- Article 243D of the Constitution ensures participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions by mandating not less than one-third reservation for women out of total number of seats to be filled by direct election and number of offices of chairpersons of Panchayats.
Parliamentary Committee On Empowerment Of Women:
- The Committee on Empowerment of Women was constituted for the first time in 1997 during the 11th Lok Sabha of the Parliament for improving the status of women.
Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha
- In 2014, under the leadership of the then Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha were made entirely gender neutral.
- Since then, each Lok Sabha Committee Head has been referred to as Chairperson in all documents.
The Women’s Reservation Bill 2008:
- It proposes to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 1/3rd of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women.
- Bring women quotas in political parties
- Promoting Inner party democracy
- Passage of Women’s Reservation Bill
- Fighting stereotypes
- Bringing gender neutral languages
The pre-requisite of inclusive society is inclusive parliament, the need of the hour is to have equal participation of all the sections of society in mainstream political activity and decision making.
Source: The Hindu
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