Q. The strength of the women parliamentarians have remained low since independence. Does this make a case for reservation for women in the Parliament? Discuss (150 Words)
- Source: The Hindu - Page 7/OPED: Data Point - Where women stand in Legislatures
- GS 1: Women
Introduction: In terms of women representation in the Parliament, India ranks lower than most of the countries of the world. India has only 78 women in Lok Sabha out of 543, which is only about 14% of the total strength. This fact is often used to make a case for providing reservation in the Union legislatures. According to Global Gender Gap Report 2021, India has declined on the political empowerment index by 13.5 percentage points, and a decline in the number of women ministers, from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021.
The Women's Reservation Bill or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 9 th March, 2010, is a pending bill in the Parliament of India which proposes to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 1/3rd of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women.
Importance of women's reservation:
- Success model of reservation in local bodies: The various surveys do indicate that women representatives from Panchayati Raj have worked commendably in the development and overall well-being of society in villages and many of them would definitely want to work on the larger scale.
- Better Win-ability - more incentivization: With reservation win-ability of the women would increase which would incentivize more women to try their luck in the political field.
- Increasing acceptance: The more the women enter the political arena the more space it will create for the women.
- Substantive equality: This would immediately bring a quantitative equality between women and men.
- Affirmative action is required to ensure Women’s right to a full development of their potential and the right to self representation and self-determination.
- It would inspire future politicians: There is a gender gap in political decision-making, and women leaders need to come out more in numbers to impact position decisions and inspire teenage girls to contribute to nation-building.
Challenges with reservation:
- Proxy leaders as a replacement of their male counter part: For example, the phenomenon of Panchayat Patis – husbands using women as proxies in Panchayat elections – shows that reservation has only a limited success. Similar fate would be ensured for the Parliamentary reservation if it doesn't accompany perception change.
- Against fair elections: It would restrict the choice of voters to women candidates.
- Dis-incentivize Pubic Service: It may reduce the incentive for an male MP to work for their constituency if he becomes ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency in the next election due to reservation of seats.
- Diverts attention from real issues: Women cannot enter politics due to various other disabilities such as criminalisation of politics, money and muscle power and flawed social perception about women. Working on these issues may help more.
- Organic Growth is possible: The Strength of women has organically Increased over the years with the improvement in socio-economic status of women. Thus, other soft methods such as imparting education and providing economic activities must be stressed upon. The strength of women can organically increase.
- Conclusion: The major issue which creates an environment of disempower of women is the lack of opportunity in educational and economic terms. This prevents women from joining the workforce and gaining experience. No amount of reservation can help if the attitude of the society does not change, the society would always find ways such as 'Pradhan-Pati' to circumvent such provisions.