The women’s reservation Bill cannot wait any longer
GS1 GS 2 Polity and Governance
- India may have achieved universal suffrage early, but women continue to confront substantial obstacles to political participation.
History of Women in Politics in India:
- Women played an important role in India’s fight for independence by organizing demonstrations, conducting rallies, and spreading awareness.
- Independent India has every reason to be proud of its accomplishments regarding women’s suffrage. Women were granted the right to vote in 1950, allowing them to compete on an equal footing with males in the first general election held in 1951-52.
- In contrast, it took decades of struggle in the United States before women were granted the right to vote in 1920.The majority of European nations also attained universal suffrage during the interwar era.
Female leaders to note
- India has had and continues to have charismatic female leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Sushma Swaraj, and Mamata Banerjee, among others.
- Additionally, there were many female representatives in the Constituent Assembly.
- Ten years ago, three of India’s largest states, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, were in the news for having female chief ministers.
Lack of substantial representation
- Even seventy-five years after the Declaration of Independence, only 14% of the seats in Parliament are occupied by females.
- Despite the presence of powerful women in Indian politics, we have regressed since the 1980s, and patriarchal backlash has resulted in a far from ideal status for women in India.Consequently, it would not be incorrect to conclude that the issue of women’s political representation is more important than symbolic representation.
Lower than global average
- India’s standing in this regard has declined in recent years. Currently, India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
- According to data from May 2022, women’s representation in Pakistan was 20%, in Bangladesh it was 21%, and in Nepal it was 34%.
Politics as men’s profession
- Women are discouraged from entering politics on the basis that it is not a ‘feminine’ profession, as politics is commonly perceived as a masculine stronghold.
- Female candidates were frequently forced to run for office as “namesakes” for their spouses.
- Young women confront significant infrastructure barriers to entering politics, such as a lack of clean restrooms and safe housing during fieldwork.
Demand for the Reservation in Politics:
- The discourse on women’s reservation in India dates back to the pre-Independence period, when numerous women’s organizations demanded political representation.
1955 Committee recommendations
- It dates back to 1955, when a government-appointed committee recommended reserving 10 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies for women.
- Not until the 1980s, however, did the demand for women’s reservations acquire momentum.
National Perspective Plan for Women (1988)
- The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats be designated for women in all elected bodies.
- Adopted in 2001, the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women reaffirmed this recommendation.
Panchayati Raj Act
- In 1993, the Panchayati Raj Act was amended to reserve 33 percent of all seats in local government bodies for women, which was a major step toward the political empowerment of women.
Women’s Reservation Bill
- The success of this reservation prompted calls for comparable reservations in other elected bodies; in 1996, the Lok Sabha introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill.
- It was proposed that one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies be reserved for women.
- However, as a result of opposition from certain political parties, its momentum waned, but it regained steam in the early 2000s. The Bill was ratified in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010.
- Women executives are outperforming their male counterparts on a global scale.
- Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that countries led by women have some of the finest policies and governance practices.
- The Scandinavian nations have implemented policies and governance structures that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, including their representation in political and leadership positions.
- In Rwanda, a nation in central Africa, the profound wounds of the genocide are being healed by a predominantly female leadership, which has also led to significant social reforms.
- In 2003, Norway implemented a quota system mandating that 40% of corporate board seats be filled by women.
- The time has come for the women of India, the “mother of democracy,” to rule the country.
- According to Babasaheb Ambedkar, the progress of a community can be measured by the amount of progress women have made, but we are still far from this benchmark.
- A nation that still struggles to provide its citizens with the fundamental health care and education required for a dignified life must now delegate the task of transforming India to women.
- As India endeavors to become a Vishwa Guru, we must not overlook the crucial role that women play in nation building and development.
- The passage of the women’s reservation bill cannot be delayed any longer.
Daily Mains Question
[Q] It is time for the women of India, the’mother of democracy,’ to guide the country in the political realm. Discuss. What challenges do women representatives in India face?