There is a blatant gender imbalance in Indian politics. The Women's Reservation Bill is necessary for this reason


There is a blatant gender imbalance in Indian politics. The Women's Reservation Bill is necessary for this reason


Women have failed to achieve parity in politics, which has historically been a male-dominated field. Even after overcoming substantial challenges to enter electoral politics, patriarchal attitudes and character assassination continue to demoralise women leaders. The constant insistence that women don't belong here demotivates them, and they are purposefully excluded from politics and decision-making.

For instance, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chandrakant Patil recently advised Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), MP Supriya Sule, to "go home and cook" rather than work in politics, underscoring the existence of an institutionalised system of oppressive gender hierarchy and a patriarchal attitude that politics is a field for "men."

The unequal gender representation of women in politics and law is supported by empirical investigations. In research conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India was ranked 149th out of 193 nations in terms of the percentage of women who serve in the lower house of parliament. In a nation where women make up half the population, it is unconscionable that they have a pitifully meagre 14 per cent representation in the Lok Sabha and 11 per cent in the Rajya Sabha.

Are we referring to this when we state that India is a "representative democracy"? Why are they still underrepresented while making up a sizable section of the population? It's time to stop speaking for and advocating for women and to give them every chance to speak and advocate for themselves.

An institutional procedure for guaranteeing the presence of women in legislation is essential due to the predominance of patriarchal tendencies and pervasive sexism in political parties and institutions. In addition to undermining the spirit and idea of representative democracy, the underrepresentation of women in politics denies women the equal rights and opportunities provided by our Constitution.

To close this disparity, we should eliminate women's "ornamental" role in politics and put the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill (Women's Reservation Bill) into effect, which will level the playing field for women seeking political office. As required by Article 14 of the Constitution, which declares the right to equality as a basic right, we should uphold our responsibility to ensure equality.

Bill for Women's Reservation

The power structure in India has inherent patriarchal tendencies, which are shown by the disproportionately low percentage of women in positions of authority. This was made clear in the World Economic Forum's most recent "Gender Gap Report," which placed India 135th out of 156 nations in terms of gender parity. This suggests that there is an inherent unfairness in the gender gap.

Since Independence, women's representation in the Lok Sabha has increased slowly. The proportion of women in the first Lok Sabha, established in 1952, was only 4.4 per cent; it increased to 12.15 per cent following the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Because it hasn't given its women a voice, democracy hasn't been able to offer them justice.

Subsequently, in 2008, the Women's Reservation Bill, which attempts to represent women, has been rotting at the Lok Sabha table and has since lapsed multiple times. A third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies would be set aside for women under this bill.

In addition to a lack of political will or consensus on the Bill, legislators and other stakeholders have voiced their vehement opposition to it, highlighting how male-dominated Parliament's role, authority, and rights are.

The failure of Parliament to adopt this Bill is due to a number of causes, the main ones being a social attitude that rejects women as leaders and a widespread belief that women are reluctant to run alongside male candidates.

However, the data portray a different picture. There were 45 female contestants in total in 1957, and there were 668 in 2015, a 15-fold increase in the proportion of female contestants. The number of male candidates has climbed fivefold, from 1,474 to 7,583, according to data from the same years.

An increasing willingness among women to enter politics and participate in political decision-making is indicated by the 15-fold increase in female candidates.

Voters exhibit a discernible preference bias in favour of male candidates over female ones. Voters may initially have prejudices against female politicians, but with enough exposure and education, they are more likely to come to believe that women are just as capable of leading as males.

The argument that gender-based seat reservations are unfair because they treat men differently and take away their democratic right to compete on the basis of gender is another reason why the Bill failed. This line of reasoning, however, is illogical in light of the injustices, systematic exclusion, and discrimination women have experienced due to their gender.

It is acceptable to use gender as a weapon to fight against a culture that has traditionally favoured men while oppressing, marginalising, and denying basic human rights to women in cases when gender has been the root of a number of issues that women experience. Furthermore, as stated in the Indian Constitution, reserving seats for women simply ensures equal opportunity.

Need for effective women's reservation laws

When we analyse the arguments raised against the Bill, we discover that they are all nothing more than flimsy assertions rooted in the patriarchal and misogynistic traditions of our society. Bangladesh, China, and Sri Lanka all place lower than our neighbours when compared in the Gender Gap Report, at 71, 102, and 111 respectively. As of the 2022 edition of the study, only 11 nations have a ranking worse than India (135th), including Pakistan (145th) and Afghanistan (146th).

This reflects both the country's overall gender disparity as well as the dismally low levels of female engagement. It is disappointing that there hasn't been a proportional increase in women's participation in the legislative and decision-making bodies in recent years when there has been a growth in female voter turnout, which can have a variety of effects on electoral politics. That is not to say that women are not represented in elected bodies in India, but the advancement of women has been extraordinarily sluggish, as seen by the fact that even in the most recent and best phase (2002-2019), the proportion of female MPs in the Lok Sabha is still shockingly low.

Despite the fact that there are no legislative restrictions on women's representation in elected entities, obstacles make it harder for women to influence legislation. Therefore, the government urgently has to take positive affirmative action. Reservation is a critical step toward making a difference and securing equality, even while it is not a magic bullet for addressing India's deeply ingrained gender bias.

According to studies, the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts' introduction of a gender quota in local government has boosted the number of women in leadership positions and given them access to mainstream politics. Therefore, having effective representation can aid in ensuring that men and women participate equally, which is necessary for a just and representative democracy.

The Nordic nations with the highest proportion of female parliamentarians clearly have more inclusive and gender-sensitive national policies because women are more inclined to prioritise topics like gender equality, safety and security, elder care, child welfare, women's health care, and so forth. They've passed laws that support social inclusion and equality with a remarkable level of success. It is past time for us to take similar action in our nation.

Equal representation of men and women in the legislative process can greatly enhance decision-making and empower both women and the country. The Women's Reservation Bill is urgently needed because, without equal representation of women in Parliament, we cannot achieve social development with equity and justice.

It is past time to abandon the flimsy tokenism used in the name of politics of inclusion and representation and to ensure that women are truly and equally represented.

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