From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Women's Reservation
The article analyses the issue of women representation and leadership.
Role of female leaders in pandemic
- Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand have women heading their governments.
- Three countries seem to have managed the pandemic much better than their neighbours.
- A detailed recent study by researchers in the United States reports that States which have female governors had fewer COVID-19 related deaths.
- The authors of the study conclude that women leaders are more effective than their male counterparts in times of crises.
Role of women as pradhans in gram panchayats
- Women leaders perform significantly better than men in implementing policies that promote the interests of women.
- This was demonstrated in study conducted by Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo and co-author Raghabendra Chattopadhyay.
- They used the system of mandated reservations of pradhans in gram panchayats to test the effectiveness of female leadership.
- Study concluded that pradhans invested more in rural infrastructure that served better the needs of their own gender.
- This is also an important goal from the perspective of gender equality.
Underrepresentation of women in politics
- Female members make up only about 10% of the total ministerial strength in India.
- The underrepresentation of female Ministers in India is also reflected in the fact that there is only one female Chief Minister.
- Despite this, women constitute just over 14% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha.
- This gives us the dismal rank of 143 out of 192 countries for which data are reported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
State of Women’s Reservation Bill
- Women running for elections face numerous challenges, it is essential to create a level-playing field through appropriate legal measures.
- Attempts have also been made to extend quotas for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies through a Women’s Reservation Bill.
- Male members from several parties opposed the Bill on various pretexts.
- Although the Rajya Sabha did pass the bill in 2010, the Lok Sabha and the State legislatures are yet to give their approval.
- 24 years that have passed since it was first presented in the Lok Sabha.
- Political parties can sidestep the logjam in Parliament by reserving say a third of party nominations for women.
There is substantial evidence showing that increased female representation in policy making goes a long way in improving perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles. This decreases the bias among voters against women candidates, and results in a subsequent increase in the percentage of female politicians contesting and winning elections.