We always talk about giving equal rights and position to women in society but never thinking of whether women are enjoying it at all. In the 20th-century, women are enjoying more legal, social, and economic rights, yet there is emptiness. Women are still considered to be underprivileged, expected to take care of their families, their personal life, children, and official chores efficiently without any difficulties.
They are more efficient in multitasking, but sometimes it feels like women are burdened with several other responsibilities due to which they often forget to live their own lives. Undoubtedly women might do all these things with lots of happiness. It is high time for all not just to talk or make written rules to give equal rights to them but also change our mentality to respect every woman in our society.
After 2018, we saw a historical rise in the number of women participation in the House of Senate of US, we saw six women announcing their candidacy for the presidential election named as Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Elizabeth Warren & Marianne Williamson, all of them coming from different backgrounds but all are fighting for equality and women’s rights.
It can be considered a good start for the USA, which ranks 75th out of 193 countries for women representation in parliament. Likewise, recently the UK also witnessed the highest number of female members participated and elected to the parliament in their general election. Finland also recently welcomed its woman prime minister. Some other countries like Brazil, Bolivia, and Mexico also saw the highest rise in female candidates running for the general election.
In India, too, we see a decent rise in women participation in the 2019 general election, and 78 women legislators got the chance to represent in the Indian parliament. Despite the increasing number of women participating in the general election according to the SDG gender index, India still has a long way to become gender-equal when it comes to political representation.
Talking about the countries with the highest number of women representing in the parliament, one thing we find in common is the factor of reservation. It helped all these countries to acquire a higher number of female participation. Let’s take the example of Rwanda, a country with 33% of reservation for female candidates, who achieved women’s domination in their national legislature.
Likewise, countries like Mexico, South Africa, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, etc. also implemented the same reservation policy or quotas that women are elected in their respective parliaments. Similarly, Bolivia also constructed a new electoral law in which they made it compulsory to have 50% of female candidates on every political party list.
Argentina is the first country to adopt the world’s first gender quota law in 1991, mandating every political party to nominate 30% of its electable position on their candidate lists as women. However, the research paper of Tiffany Barnes titled ‘Women’s representation in the Argentine national and sub-national government’ showed that the country is still fighting with problems related to gender inequality, domestic violence and sexual harassment. This is one of the main reasons for inequality based on gender because female parliamentarians have limited powers and are most underrepresented. This scenario is pretty similar in many countries.
In every election, we have seen positive growth in the number of female members in politics. And in the 17th Lok sabha election, India has seen many women MPs occupy the centre stage, such as 78 women MPs being elected out of a total of 700 plus female candidates who contested in the election of 2019.
Out of which, 43% of women are coming from a political background, and many others are contesting as independent candidates and breaking the age-old norms of our Indian society.
In the last general election, a 71 years old lady named Pramila Bisoyi won the election and became the MP from Odisha. She belongs to an economically lower class, but now she is representing their constituency in the parliament.
Similarly, Remya Haridas, a 32year MP from Kerala, is the second-ever Dalit MP, breaking the age-old thinking of our society. In Bihar, Ritu Jaiswal, an educated mukhiya in Singhvahini village, created another example of women entering into politics without any political background.
But these are only a few success stories of women representation in politics; India still has a long way to go to achieve equal women representation in the parliament. Because when it comes to their involvement and role in decision making, the power still lies in the hands of men.
After creating the reservation quota system, there are still 176 male members in comparison to 78 female representatives in Lok Sabha and 20 out of 240 male MPs in Rajya Sabha.
The 78 seats allotted to female candidates in Lok Sabha represents 14 % out of 542 seats and don’t even fulfil the criteria of 33% of women representation in the parliament. The numbers of MLAs are even worse. Out of these 78 MPs, only 3MPs got the Cabinet Ministerial position.
Many prominent national parties like INC and BJP are selling the idea of reservation for women on paper but failed to preach on their own words when it came to giving women legislators more power. Regional parties with women leaders like TMC, BSP, & AIADMK; under the leadership of late Jayalalitha have failed to field more women. The images of state assemblies are gloomier than the parliament.
The northeastern states, where we see the involvement of more women in the work front and market places compared to any other parts of India, have the same scenario. The states like Mizoram and Nagaland have zero female members in their assemblies.
In our constitution, the 73rd amendment act gave 33% reservation to women with an impressive 46% share in the country’s panchayats. Does it erect a question in our mind that is this reservation and the huge extent of involvement of women in politics creating empowerment for women?
No, there are several challenges in the way to provide equality to women, such as the proxy panchayat members. We all know that women members of panchayats are used as proxies in the name of the male member of their families.
Women are so habituated with our patriarchal and male-dominated society that they don’t find it odd upon getting deprived of, using the power and rights of their positions. They have forgotten their ability to fight for survival. Along with this, criminalization and investment of enormous money in the election also restrict a woman from entering the field of politics.
According to NCRB, the number of cases related to the crime against women has been increasing in the last three years. Uttar Pradesh is on the top of the list with 56,011 cases, followed by Maharashtra with 31,979 cases, West Bengal at 30,200 cases. Fun facts, all these states have the most number of female MPs elected. And this represents that despite being elected, women are still deprived of their power and are still invisible as more male MPs occupy most of the power and party positions.
Party leaders who construct the party agenda always give more power to male members or to those who are more visible in the public sphere, as their success and failure depend on the party performance or even the caste they belong. All these factors restrict their growth and presence or visibility in the dominant male society.
But now the regional political parties are willing to give more representation to women in parliament and assemblies; for example; the TMC has given almost 40% reservation quota to women in West Bengal likewise, Odisha also passed the bill for approving the 33% reservation for female candidates in state assemblies.
While the concept of reservation is helping women candidates enter the parliament, all these discriminations between men and women and gender inequality are creating hindrance in their ways. Along with reservation, they should be provided with equal opportunity, freedom, and liberty to work and to make decisions without any pressure.
Equitable distribution of power and resources is equally important to empower women in the field of politics. And women themselves have to work for their empowerment.
The system of the reservation should not only be considered a rule or mere paperwork; it should be implemented properly with the actual involvement of women in the political sphere of our nation. The government has implemented reservation bills for many years. Still, now it requires being the main topic of discussion, and people should start respecting and believing in the ability and strength of women. The woman who can run her family smoothly can easily control the administrative and legislative problems and issues of the society.