Political Participation and Representation of Women in Indian Politics By Nitish Dadhich from S.S.Jain Subodh Law College
The roots of women’s participation in politics can be traced back to the nineteenth century reform movement. This movement emerged as a result of conflict between the Indian bourgeoisies, trying to wrest control from the British. This class made attempts to reform itself, mainly by campaigning against caste, polytheism, idolatry, animism, purdha, child marriage, sati etc., professed as rudiments of ancient identity. The question of reservation for women had surfaced even before Independence because women from the elite classes of that period who wanted to play some role in public life, realized the hurdles in their way. This View8 was again reflected during the review of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) in 1974.
Time and again, various sources have highlighted the causes and barriers that limit women’s political participation and its effect on women. The obligation of the State obligations under National Law, Civil and Political Laws, Socio-Economic Laws Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to ensure and facilitate the participation of women in politics and the initiatives taken by the State in terms of legislative actions, policies and programs and their effectiveness are to be examined.
The government officials deputed as secretaries to the panchayat's often control power and take decisions independent of the presidents and the members. The funds for the panchayat being credited in the secretaries account has resulted in the exclusion/sidelining of elected members from the decision-making processes.
The women’s movements have been underlining the need for women’s political empowerment. They have been adopting multi-pronged strategies, consultations, signature campaigns, large public meetings, media advocacy, lobbying political party functionaries, relay hunger strikes, protest sittings and marches and so on. On one hand, there are several NGOs that have focused their attention to training women elected into local levels of governance and also prospective women candidates. On the other hand, there are researchers studying women’s political participation, identifying factors that impede or promote women’s active participation in electoral politics. There is a dire need for all these efforts to converge. What is also important is that the Movement and the NGO sector must bridge the existing gaps and unite as one major force to promote and facilitate women’s political participation. The struggle for equality for the female gender in economic, social and political spheres will continue until they are achieved. Only then can women charter their political agenda to build a gender just society.
Thus, the causes and effects of their increased participation in politics are put in four distinct sections:
- History: From the beginning of suffrage movements two hundred years ago, history altered its course to include women. The history of women’s attempt to climb the stairs of public domain, their attempts to secure equal rights with men and the impact of institutions like patriarchy and religion.
- Politics: The backdrop in which the women entered politics, the factors boosting their assertions and promoting them to take over the control of the world are vital. On the forefront, the role economic conditions play in enhancing the status of women is yet to be taken care of. The theory of Doepke and Tertilt (2009), where an increase in the return to human capital induces men to vote for women’s rights, which in turn promotes growth in human capital and income per capita is also discussed briefly. It is noted that the difference in legal rights of women and men increases with the difference in their incomes respectively.
- Society: This section deals with the results, of this devolution of power from the patriarchal society to an egalitarian society. It deals with the development of the ‘ideology’ of feminism and its consequences.
- World: It is vital to study the steps taken by the world community and nation-states to further improve women’s position in economic as well as political terms; also, the strategies of world Organizations like UNO, SAARC and ASEAN to promote women participation in politics.
It is an undeniable fact that the role women play in our society is indispensable. But the role society plays in the lives of women is far from obligated. Thus, the emergence of women in the public sphere, especially in the politics, despite the unyielding circumstances and oppressive nature of our society, is particularly impressive. Today, women have come a long way from being the ‘damsel in distresses’ to prominent places in legislatures all over the country.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article or any other publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Educoncours or its members.