Civil society organizations (CSOs) in India are committed to addressing the gender imbalance in politics. CSOs, which include community-based groups, NGOs, and even political parties, are working diligently to enhance women’s representation and participation in state legislatures.
India currently ranks 147th out of 193 countries in terms of women’s representation in politics, with women constituting only 14.3% of Parliament. The situation is even worse in state legislatures.
- National Alliance for Women (NAWO) formulated the Women’s Manifesto in 1996, demanding reserved seats for women in state legislatures and Parliament.
- In Assam, a coalition of five women-led NGOs published Women’s Manifesto-21, advocating for women’s reservations in elected bodies.
- NGOs like Bharat Jagruthi, founded by K. Kavitha, actively promote the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill. Women’s wings of political parties, such as Mahila Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Mahila Morcha (BJP), play pivotal roles in mainstreaming women’s issues within their parties.
- However, some regional parties like Samajwadi Party etc. advocate for special quotas for OBC females.
- Research studies by NGOs have helped to bring the issue of under-representation of women to the light. Ex. ADR’s National Election Watch.
- CSOs also emphasize the importance of quality representation, not just quantity.
- They work to increase the pipeline of women leaders at the local level through organizations like Mahila Rajsatta Andolan.
- Capacity-building and training initiatives like Women’s Democracy Network and Femme First Foundation prepare women for greater participation in public life by providing training and mentorship to enhance their political leadership skills.
- Organizations like Khabar Lahariya and Writing with Fire raise awareness of women’s issues and highlight gender-related concerns and champions.
In summary, Indian civil society organizations actively advocate for greater representation and meaningful participation of women in politics. Their efforts span a range of activities, from advocating legislative changes to providing capacity-building and mentorship programs, all with the overarching goal of advancing gender empowerment and ensuring women’s voices are heard in the political arena.