April 23, 2024

General Studies Paper 2

Context: It is disheartening to witness that even 75 years after Independence, Parliament lacks substantial representation of women, with women holding just 14% of the seats.

What are the contributions of women in the field of politics?

  • Women played a crucial role in India’s fight for independence, by organising demonstrations, leading rallies, and raising awareness. There were numerous female representatives in the Constituent Assembly as well.
  • Just a decade ago, three of India’s largest States, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, were in the spotlight for being led by women Chief Ministers.
  • While Sushma Swaraj led the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi served as both President of the Congress Party and Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance. Also, India had its first woman President, Pratibha Patil around the same time.

What have been the major developments in India related to women representation in politics?

  • The discourse on women’s reservation in India originates from the pre­-Independence era. Several women’s organisations demanded political representation for women.
  • In 1955, a government appointed committee recommended that 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies should be reserved for women.
  • During the 1980s, the demand for women’s reservations gained momentum. The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats in all elected bodies should be reserved for women.
  • This recommendation was reiterated in the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, which was adopted in 2001.
  • In 1993, the Panchayati Raj Act was amended to reserve 33% of all seats in local government bodies for women.
  • In 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill proposed to reserve one third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative Assemblies for women. However, facing strong opposition from some political parties.
  • It gained more momentum again in the early 2000s. On March 9, 2010, the Bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha.

What are the global examples of women representation in politics?

  • Around the world, women leaders are outperforming their male counterparts.
  • The Scandinavian countries have implemented policies and governance structures that support gender equality and women’s empowerment. It includes women’s representation in political and leadership positions.
  • Moreover, countries led by women have best policies and governance practices. The deep scars in Rwanda, from the genocide, are being healed by a leadership that comprises women. This has also resulted in key social reforms.
  • Norway implemented a quota system in 2003 that required 40% of seats on corporate boards to be occupied by women.

What is the way forward for proper representation of women in politics?

  • Babasaheb Ambedkar was of the opinion that the progress of a community can be measured by the degree of progress which women have achieved.
  • Women have been waiting for too long for their right to govern. Women’s leadership qualities are not hidden from anyone. So, the denial of opportunity for political representation represents grave injustice.
  • As India strives to become a Vishwa Guru, it cannot overlook the pivotal role women can play in nation building and development. The women’s reservation Bill must be passed.
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