Despite Successful Stories female representation in Politics still a far-fetched dream writes Aparna Patwardhan
Women’s representation in the Lok Sabha in a country of 125 crores is a meager 12% with just 66 seats of the 543 seats. Representation in the Legislative Assemblies across India is worse, with the national average being a poor 9%. Some states have no representation whatsoever.
The Congress party, which is the single largest opposition party, has 44 seats in the Lok Sabha today. Despite their small presence they are known to create a ruckus over the smallest of issues. But even with a higher number at 66 seats in the Lok Sabha, women have not even made a whimper for the elusive 33% reservation for women in Parliament. They have glue on their feet.
A serious outcome of the exclusion and under-representation of women in decision-making positions is an intellectual power gap and poor policy-making. When Sudha Murthy, of the Infosys Foundation, talks of her experience as the only female student in her college and of her college having no ladies’ toilet in her time, we admire her courage and passion to pursue Engineering. An underlying problem is overlooked, which is that if women had been policy-makers and had political power in those times, toilet-building would not be the focus of the present government today. We would have achieved that goal decades ago and had the luxury today of setting other goals.
The contributions of women activists and elected representatives are essential to build a strong and vibrant society. Women are more committed to promoting policies that address the socio-economic and political challenges facing women, children and disadvantaged groups. It is a demonstrated fact that women are particularly effective in promoting honest & accountable governments. Women are strongly committed to peace building, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. Therefore, they can mitigate conflicts or stop conflicts before they begin. Wherever gender empowerment is higher, human rates of development and standards of living are also higher which implies that women participation can bring positive changes in infrastructure, education, healthcare, access to safe water, housing etc.
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