Pointing out the imbalance of gender in top positions across the country including parliament, bureaucracy and Apex court, the Women’s group demand from the National and Regional political parties of India to demonstrate their commitment towards ensuring gender equality and deliver on their manifesto promises.
Even after 75 years of independence, only 14% of Indian women are in Parliament, 13.5% in bureaucracy and 11% in Supreme Court. MSMEs are doing a great job employing women workers.
However, the count on managerial level remains low in comparison to the opposite gender. The Chief Justice of India N.V Ramana has recently stressed the need for more women in crucial decision-making levels. No country can claim to be a representative democracy if nearly half the population is not part of the decision-making process.
Moreover, there is a global emphasis on sustainable development and it is a well-established fact that gender imbalances greatly retard the developmental and economic progress of a country.
Out of 70 MLAs in the Delhi assembly, only eight women representatives make up just 11% of the total representation. On the other hand, the Delhi cabinet has no women minister out of 7 ministers responsible for all important portfolios.
In the 2017 U.P. state elections, only 38 women were elected as MLAs out of the 96 women contested. Conditions are identical in other states where political parties give fewer tickets to women candidates than male candidates.
If the ticket is given and the women candidate wins, she is then ignored for any vital responsibility.
In the parliament, Rajya Sabha has just over 10% women M.P.s that is 25 of 245 seats, and Loksabha has 14% women M.P.s (78 out of 543 seats).
“As before, the political parties are banking on women’s votes to come to power again by promising schemes for LPG connection, public toilets and free electricity connections. But they are reluctant to give women representation at the decision-making level.
Only when there are more women in power, we can reduce gender-based violence and move towards an equal and equitable future” Dr Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research and Member of the women’s collective.
According to the latest data (2019) of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Uttar Pradesh is the biggest contributor (14.7%) to crime against women. In 2015, Uttar Pradesh reported nearly 10.9% of cases of all crimes against women across the country.
Reports of rape of Dalit women and girls during the Covid Pandemic (in Hathras and Bareilly) shows that safeguarding the rights of women has not been carried out efficiently by the U.P police and administration.
“We have women participation strengthening the local bodies since the 33 per cent reservation was ensured for women under Panchayati Raj Act. It is crucial for Government to bring equal representation in the Lok Sabha and ensure that the women’s voices are represented equally at the highest decision-making body. It is the time for the political leaders to stand with their promises to give equal representation to the half of India’s population and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill”, says the women’s collective.
Some prominent women rights organizations endorsing the demand to ensure equal participation of women in the political sphere through the passage of the Women Reservation Bill includes Centre for Social Research, Delhi; Global Concerns India, Bangalore; Impulse NGO Network, Meghalaya; Joint Women’s Programme; Justice Seekers; National Federation of Indian Women; Women Power Connect; YWCA, India; Indian Women Theologians’ Forum and many more individuals and organizations.
In order to address lawlessness and the increasing gender-based violence against women, it is important to enhance the representation of women in Parliament and State Assemblies through the passage of the long-pending Women Reservation Bill.
The party manifestos of all leading coalitions and political parties like UPA, NDA and left parties have attracted women, voters, based on the promises to pass this bill, but thereafter, no genuine strides were made towards closing the gender gap in terms of political opportunities for women candidates.
India has consistently been a poor performer when it comes to gender indices and paying attention to women’s issues. Increased political participation of women will address this perception of a deficit in the crucial area of gender equality.