Women still kept out of Indian legislatures

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Women still kept out of Indian legislatures

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Protagonists of women rights argue that women’s participation in politics is a reinforcing factor in ushering in a level playing field for them. Now, how inclusive is India’s political domain?

Sadly, India stands at the lower rung of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) 2018 rankings at 152 among 193 countries in women’s representation in parliaments. A small island nation like Malta, with a population of only 4.6 lakhs, precedes India. Even neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Iraq stole a march over India.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) while analysing the outcome of the last fifteen Lok Sabha elections, expressed concern about the fact that women despite constituting 49 per cent of the total electorates, could only share a single seat among ten in the parliament. Their success rate in the elections was also found to be better during the period. In the current Lok Sabha, the success rate for men was 6.4 per cent, while that for women was 9.3 per cent. The number of women contestants witnessed a 15-fold increase in comparison to only 5-fold increase among male contestants. The trend perhaps indicates women’s growing inclination to enter the political fray.

Way back in 2008, PRS legislative research, on the eve of the introduction of the constitutional 108th Amendment Bill, which proposed to reserve 33 per cent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha, and in the legislative assemblies, found that there were only 280 women out of the total 4,120 MLAs in the twenty-eight States and two Union Territories. It was less than 7 per cent of all MLAs, and even lesser than 9.5 per cent of women’s representation in the then Lok Sabha.

West Bengal had the highest of nearly 13 per cent, while among the southern States, Tamil Nadu topped the list with 9.4 per cent of women MLAs, followed by Andhra with 8.8 per cent. Surprisingly, Kerala, with its more than 90 per cent literacy rate at that time, had only about 5 per cent representation, and Karnataka was as low as 1.3 per cent.

Click here to read the full article published by The Statesman on 28 December 2018.

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