Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What India can learn from Kenya about women’s representation


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.


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

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