Few female candidates in India state polls reflects failure to boost women politicians

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Few female candidates in India state polls reflects failure to boost women politicians

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, Feb 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The pitiful show of female candidates in India's state elections is an indictment of the failure of successive governments to enact a two-decade-old bill to give women a stronger voice in parliament, activists said.

In the world's largest democracy, women hold only 12 percent of seats in the lower and upper houses of parliament combined, says the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) - just over half the global average of 23 percent.

After years of lobbying by activists, a bill - which provides for one-third of the seats in national and state assemblies to be reserved for women - was passed by the upper house in 2010.

Yet it has faced vehement resistance from male lawmakers and has failed to be tabled for discussion in the lower house, despite pledges by successive governments over the last seven years to enact the legislation.

The National Alliance for the Women's Reservation Bill, a coalition of over 20 women's rights organisations, said their research showed in polls currently taking place across five Indian states, women made up less than 6 percent of candidates.

"Women face so many difficulties in India and it is the same in political parties. Just enter these male-dominated, patriarchal political party offices and you will realise how difficult it is to survive as a woman in politics in India," said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.

Click here to read the full article published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation News on February 7, 2017.  

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