Women constitute nearly 50% of India’s population, but only about 12% women representatives are in the Lok Sabha. In state assemblies, the condition is more miserable with only 9% women representing all states. When it comes to the percentage of women legislators, our position, when compared to other countries, is at a pitiable 103 amongst 141 countries.
The women’s reservation bill that reserves 33% seats for women has been pending for over 20 years. With less than two years remaining, the current Government is unlikely to pass the legislation. So, what’s the road ahead from here?
Research suggests women are better leaders than men. Women CEOs generate three times better returns than their male counterparts. Recent studies confirm that women are better investors than men. In a survey conducted in Maharashtra, female sarpanches (village head), over a period, delivered better results than the male sarpanches. Evidence also shows that female leaders are less corrupt compared to male leaders and that their constituencies see higher growth. We all need leaders who are competent and honest. Women leaders exhibit both these qualities.
It is highly unlikely that we will get 33% reservation for women in the near future. None of the major political parties is sincere enough to implement this measure. For example, in the recently concluded Gujarat elections, out of 182 seats, the Congress and the BJP fielded only 10 and 12 women candidates – a paltry figure of 5.5% and 6.5% respectively.
To elect more female legislators, a concerted effort is needed that is agnostic of party affiliations. There should be a voluntary or political group in place, committed to supporting more women representatives. This will ensure higher votes and resources for every woman that has higher chances of winning a seat irrespective of the party that has fielded them. In order to achieve this, the following can be done:
Women should join hands to get what they deserve. Expecting male leaders to give them their due hasn’t yielded any result and is unlikely to produce any in the future. Only once they take matters into their own hands and announce their intentions with certainty, male-dominated political parties will be forced to field more female candidates.
And only when female leaders are elected in sufficient numbers in legislative positions, can our dream of building a nation that’s more respectable and equitable to all genders become a reality.