Gender parity in governance and political participation is a prerequisite to the realisation of gender equality. A 33% reservation for women is ensured through Constitutional amendments (73rd & 74th) in local bodies. However, there is nothing like a ‘natural transition’ from Panchayats to State Assemblies and Parliament, where the representation of women continues to be dismal.
17th Lok Sabha has only 14% of female members, whereas the share is just 9% for all the states’ legislative assemblies.
Measures to improve women’s Participation in Politics
- Reservation at all Levels: Ensure at least 50% reservation of seats for women in Local bodies, State Legislative Assemblies, Parliament, Ministerial levels and all decision-making bodies of the government.
- Decriminalisation of politics: The state needs to take effective steps to combat the criminalisation of politics
- State funding of elections: State funding of elections or subsidising election expenditure of women candidates will encourage women’s participation in elections.
- Gender sensitization of political parties: Where there is a nomination to any political body, the governing criterion should be not only political loyalty but also a proven record in the promotion of women’s rights.
- Mahila Gram Sabha: Mahila Gram Sabha provide women with the playing field for garnering political experience and would also help raise women’s issues.
Alternatives to Reservation for Women in Legislative Bodies
Women reservation Bill demanding mandatory reservation of 33% in legislative bodies didn’t garner a consensus among political parties. In this context, the following alternatives can be considered
Make it mandatory for every recognized political party to nominate women candidates for election in at least one-third of the constituencies.
Make it mandatory for recognised political parties to ensure putting of minimum agreed percentage for women in State Assembly and Parliamentary elections to allow them to retain the recognition with the Election Commission as political parties.
Increase the strength of Legislatures by one-third of the total number of existing seats and provide one-third (i.e., to increase seats by 33% and make a reservation) seats to women.