Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What India can learn from Kenya about women’s representation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Women's representation

Asymmetric representation in India and Kenya has given rise to complex debate in both countries. The article analyses the similarities and difference.

Issue of women’s representation in Parliament

  • Many political promises have been made in seven decades of the working of the Indian Constitution regarding 33 per cent reservation in Parliament.
  • But the two bills, introduced in 1996 and 2010, have been allowed to lapse.

What are the hurdles?

  • Every political party endorses the idea but the battle within political classes has been over “quota within a quota”.
  • Some have argued that ways should be found to ensure that this reservation should contain 33 per cent reservation within for SC and ST women.
  • Some have championed a systemic practice of reservation at the stage of distributing party tickets.
  • Some continue to fight for underprivileged and rural women.
  • Some maintain that a constitutional convention mandating increased representation for women by parties will be more appropriate than a constitutional amendment.

Comparison with Kenya

  • While both fall short in equitable representation, Kenya has secured about 22 per cent women in the present National Assembly.
  • India peaked to its highest number in the 2019 elections with 62 women (around 14.58 per cent),out of a total of 542 Lok Sabha seats.
  • In the Kenyan Senate women number only 21 (or 31 per cent) of the 67-member House are female; in the Indian Rajya Sabha women comprise 25 out of 243 elected members.
  •  In both societies, women’s representation has always been “pyramidical”, most women remain below the constitutional radar at the bottom, even when a few scale national heights.
  • Asymmetric representation in both societies has generated a long and complex debate concerning women’s representation.

Difference in constitutional histories and judicial actions

  • India has nothing like the two-thirds rule in Kenya’s new constitution.
  • Kenya’s Constitution requires that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.
  • But the 2010 constitutional norm of a “two-thirds gender rule”, buttressed by the requirement that the electoral system shall comply with this rule has been breached.
  • The judicial orders (from 2012) giving various timeframes to enact legislation to implement gender parity have found Parliament unresponsive.
  •  The stage was thus set for the exercise of constitutional power and function by the chief justice to advise the president to dissolve Parliament.
  • This was a great victory for the Kenyan women.

Conclusion

Indian sisterhood can yearn wistfully, but valiantly, for another Vishakha moment in the demosprudential leadership of the nation by the apex court.

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments