Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women and Politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maternal mortality rate

Mains level : Paper 2- Women's representation in politics

Context

For a proper appraisal of the relations between gender and democracy, we ought to examine the links between violence, representation, and the political participation of women.

Role of women in South Asian democracy

  • Historically, one of the peculiar paradoxes of South Asian democracy has been the continued presence of strong women leaders at the executive centre coupled with a generally appalling condition of women in society at large.
  • South Asia has had the largest number of women heads of state — including Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Indira Gandhi, Khaleda Zia, Sheikh Hasina, and Benazir Bhutto — of any region in the world till recently.
  • Under-represented: While women have played very visible and important roles at the higher echelons of power and at the grassroots level in social movements, they have been under-represented in political parties as officials and as members of key decision-making bodies.

Electoral representation of women in India

  • In India, women currently make up 14.6 per cent of MPs (78 MPs) in the Lok Sabha, which is a historic high.
  • Although the percentage is modest, it is remarkable because women barely made up 9 per cent of the overall candidates in 2019.
  • In electoral representation, has fallen several places in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global ranking of women’s parliamentary presence, from 117 after the 2014 election to 143 as of January 2020. 
  • In terms of electoral quotas, there were two outstanding exceptions in the 2019 general elections.
  • Voluntary parliamentary quota: West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee and Odisha under Naveen Patnaik opted for voluntary parliamentary quotas, fielding 40 per cent and 33 per cent women candidates, respectively.

Growing turnout of women voters and its implications

  • Assertion of citizenship rights: In 1962, the male voter turnout in India was 16 percentage points higher than for women. Six decades later, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, women’s participation exceeded that of men for the first time.
  • This suggests an increasing assertion of citizenship rights among women.
  • The growing turnout of women voters could influence political parties’ programmatic priorities and improve their responsiveness to women voters’ interests, preferences, and concerns, including sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
  • Women-centric schemes: The state government in Bengal ran and highlighted many women-centric schemes that potentially played a central role in their victory.
  • The central government must be commended for its achievements in two areas in particular: Its DBT schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan.
  • As a result, maternal mortality rate has reduced from 167 (2011-13) to 113 (2016-18).
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is another landmark achievement that extended the paid maternal leave to 26 weeks from the existing 12 weeks.

Way forward

  • Government must use its parliamentary majority to finally pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, as was promised in their 2014 election manifesto.
  • Until that happens, the initiative taken by the governments of Banerjee and Patnaik to increase women’s parliamentary presence must serve as an inspiration to other Indian states.

Conclusion

The extent to which parties represent women and take up their interests is closely tied to the health and vitality of democratic processes.

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