India has seen an active participation of women in the country’s struggle for independence against the colonial power. This participation was recognised after independence when the universal suffrage was introduced in the very first elections held in independent India. However, in over seventy decades of independence, the country could see only a handful of prominent female politicians, including the first and the only woman prime minister to date, Indira Gandhi.
Pratibha Patil the former President of the country, J Jayalalithaa, Vasundhara Raje, Mamata Banerjee, Sushma Swaraj are few other politicians who managed to penetrate through the male dominance spectrum.
With just 11 per cent representation in the lower house of the Parliament and 10.6 per cent in the Upper House, there is an urgent need for implementing measures to improve female participation in the politics of the country.
While the plan to improve women's role in politics is in the process for a long time, the bill which was introduced for the same has lapsed in the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. The Women Reservation Bill, also known as The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but could not get through the Lok Sabha. It was stuck in the Lower house for long and was finally lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha headed by the members elected during the 2009 general elections.
The Bill was introduced with a proposal to amend the Constitution of India and to reserve 33 per cent of all seats for women in the Lower-house of the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. These seats were to be reserved on the rotational basis in a way that a seat would be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections.
The foundation of the proposal was laid in a constitutional amendment that was passed in 1993, aiming at reserving one-third positions for women in Gram Panchayat. Since then, the Panchayat and the Municipal have witnessed an increased representation of women. Though most of these women are mere faces to the elections with their husband’s or son’s leading the political battle. The proposal was also extended for reserving the same 33 percent seats for women in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies. However several people opposed the bill saying that it will be discrimination against the others.
The female participation in Indian politics is lower than the global average representation of women. Our country ranks below Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and many more.
Unless and until women’s participation in the governing body of the country increases, serious grievances like acid attacks, rape, dowry, molestation, killings will not be addressed with grievous concern.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)