8 December 2012



The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.  In modern India, women have adorned high offices in India including that of the PresidentPrime ministerSpeaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition. As of 2011, the President of India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition inLok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) are all women. However, women in India generally are still exposed to numerous social issues. According to a global study conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the "fourth most dangerous country" in the world for women. India ranks 115th of 162 countries in terms of gender development.
If we look at the world picture, we find the most countries in the world have failed to give due space and representation to women in political life.
The highest representation of women in Parliament is in Rwanda, at 56%.
Sweden 46%, and Cuba 43%, Finland 42%, Argentina 40% and there are several European countries with over 30% representation of women.
 In socialist countries Cuba tops the list, followed by Vietnam at 26%, China with 21 % and DPR Korea with 15.6%,.
 In contrast to Cuba, the figures for developed countries like Canada 22%, UK 20%, USA 17% are much lower.
In the SAARC region Nepal with 33%, Pakistan with 22.5% and Bangla Desh with 12% are all higher than India which has just managed to achieve 10% representation of women in Parliament.

India ranks 105th in the world for women's representation in politics

The country ranks 105th in the world for female representation in politics, with only 60 women lawmakers in the 543-member Lok Sabja and 24 women MPs out of a total of 240 members in Rajya Sabha.
India lags behind other nations, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, in terms of women’s political participation, data released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) shows.
Female representation in the Indian parliament ranks 105th in the world
In comparison, China ranks 60th in the world and Bangladesh took the 65th spot. Nepal came in 20th and Pakistan 52nd.
Of India’s neighboring nations, only Sri Lanka and Myanmar rank lower on the list, at 129th and 134th respectively.
At the top of the IPU list was Rwanda, with 56 per cent representatives being women in the Lower House and more than 38 per cent in its Upper House. Andorra and Cuba ranked second and third
.Eight countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Belize, Palau, Micronesia, Nauru and Solomon Islands, have no female representation in national politics.

Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity have risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decision making positions.
It is shame on the world's largest democracy- even after 60 years of independence- despite 15 general elections,
Indian women still have an abysmal representation in Indian Parliament.
Women comprise half of the population in India, 340 million voters out of a total electorate of 710 million in 2009 - constitutes a lowly 9% of the total strength of  lokSabha. . 

This is clear from the following data:
Lok Sabha
Total No. of seats
Number of Women contestants
No. of Women Members elected
Percentage to the total seats
Percentage of total number of women contestants
First – 1952

 Women representation in India's Parliament-15th Lok Sabha

Of the 59 women MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha, 23 are from the Congress and 13 from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party
 A record 59 women have been elected Member of Parliament (MP) in the 15th Lok Sabha (LS)—the highest since Independence, and 17 of them are less than 40 years.
According to PRS Legislative Research, an organisation that aims to strengthen legislative debate, among the 59 women MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha, 23 are from the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 13 women members, reports IANS.
Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of 13 women MPs to represent the most populous state. It is followed by West Bengal with seven.
In the 15th Lok Sabha the number of MPs in the age group of 25-40 years has gone up drastically.
Fifteen per cent of 543 MPs in the new Lower House of the Parliament are in this age group while in the 14th Lok Sabha the figure was only 6.3 per cent, according to PRS Legislative Research.
In all, 556 women had contested the 2009 general elections, of which 59 were elected.
The lowest percentage of women representations was in the sixth Lok Sabha (1977-80) when there were only 3.8 per cent women MPs.
The first Lok Sabha (1952-57) had 4.4 per cent women MPs.  The sixth Lok Sabha (1977-80) had lowest representation of women only 3.8%
In the 13th Lok Sabha (1999-2004), the figure was 9.2 per cent, the research group said.
The research group said that women representatives in the age group of 40 to 60 have gone down. Now, less than 57 per cent of women fall in this category as compared to over 73 per cent in 2004.
But this time, women over 60 make a 13.80 percent, while it was a mere 9.8 per cent in the 14th Lok Sabha.
According the PRS, the total percentage of MPs this time in the age group of 41-55 years has been the second lowest in the last 14 sessions with only 43 per cent members belonging to the age group.
 Despite the tall promises made by political parties, the presence of women in the Lok Sabha has remained a dismal 3.5 per cent to 9.02 per cent of its total strength since it came into being.
The number of women in the Lok Sabha has remained between 19 and 49 ever since the first general elections (1952), with the sixth Lok Sabha having the lowest number of 19 women and the 13th Lower House having the highest at 49 members.
 However, as is evident from the result of the 15th Lok Sabha elections, there are 13 more women MPs than the last House and 10 more than the previous best of 49 in the 13th Lok Sabha.
 This is a small step forward towards increasing representation of women members in Parliament. For the first time in Indian history the representation of women members has crossed the 10% mark.
Women's Empowerment in India's Parliament and Government
India’s Parliament has two houses: the Lower House (Lok Sabha) and the Upper House (Rajya Sabha).

Lok Sabha consists of 552 members of which 60 (almost 11 percent) are women; 59 represent 16 of the 28 states and 1 represents 1 of the 7 Union territories.

The state-wise distribution of the 60 seats is as follows:
State/Territory Seats Percentage
Uttar Pradesh 12 (20 percent)
West Bengal 7 (12 percent)
Madhya Pradesh 6 (10 percent)
Andhra 5 (8 percent)
Bihar 5 (8 percent)
Gujarat 4 (7 percent)
Punjab 4 (7 percent
Chhattisgarh 3 (5 percent)
Maharashtra 3 (5 percent)
Rajasthan 3 (5 percent)
Assam 2 (3 percent)
Haryana 2 (3 percent)
Delhi 1 (2 percent)
Karnataka 1 (2 percent))
Meghalaya 1 (2 percent)
Tamil Nadu 1 (2 percent)
Total 60 (100 percent)

Political party affiliation of the 60 women parliamentarians in Lok Sabha is as follows:
Political Party Seats Percentage
Indian National Congress 24 (40 percent)
Bharatiya Janata Party 13 (22 percent)
All IndiaTrinamool Congress 4 (7 percent)
Bahujan Samaj Party 4 (7 percent)
Samajwadi Party 3 (5 percent)
Janata Dal (United) 2 (3 percent)
Nationalist Congress Party 2 (3 percent)
Shiromani Akali Dal 2 (3 percent)
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 1 (2 percent)
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 1 (2 percent)
Independent 1 (2 percent)
Rastriya Lok Dal 1 (2 percent)
Shiv Sena 1 (2 percent)
Telangana Rashtra Samithi 1 (2 percent)
Total 60 (100percent)

The state-wise representation by a total of 26 women from 15 of the 35 states and union territories in the Rajya Sabha is as follows:

State/Territory Seats Percentage
Madhya Pradesh 3 (12 percent)
Tamil Nadu 3 (12 percent)
Andhra Pradesh 2 (8 percent)
Himachal Pradesh 2 (8 percent)
Orissa 2 (8 percent)
Assam 1 (4 percent)
Chhattisgarh 1 (4 percent)
Gujarat 1 (4 percent)
Jharkhand 1 (4 percent)
Kerala 1 (4 percent)
Punjab 1 (4 percent)
Rajasthan 1 (4 percent)
Tripura 1 (4 percent)
Uttar Pradesh 1 (4 percent)
West Bengal 1 (4 percent)
Nominated 4 (15 percent)
Total 26 (100)

Political party affiliation of 26 women members of Rajya Sabha is as follows:

Political Party Seats Percentage

Indian National Congress 11 (42 percent)
Bharatiya Janata Party 5 (19 percent)
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 3 (12 percent)
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 2 (8 percent)
Biju Janata Dal 1 (4 percent)
Telugu Desam Party 1 (4 percent)
Nominated by the President of India 3 (12 percent)
Total 26 (100 percent)

States and territories of (1) Andaman and Nicobar Islands, (2) Arunachal Pradesh, (3) Chandigarh, (4) Dadra and Nagar Haveli, (5) Daman and Diu, (6) Goa, (7) Jammu and Kashmir, (8) Lakshadweep, (9) Manipur, (10) Mizoram, (11) Nagaland, (12) Puducherry, (13) Sikkim, (14) Uttarakhand do not have any women member in India’ Parliament.

Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party dominate women parliamentarians compared with other parties. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal stand out among the states with more women members of Parliament.

It is noteworthy that India’s President, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and president of the Indian National Congress party are all women. There are 3 women in a Union Cabinet of 35 Ministers, 1 of 6 Ministers with Independent Charge, 3 of 37 Ministers of State in Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government. There are no Supreme Court judges. There are 3 Governors/Lt. Governors/Administrators of 35 states and territories, and 2 Chief Ministers of 29 states and territories. Overall women occupy about 10 percent of all top political positions in India. It is a long march towards 50 percent.

There are only about 10 most popular women leaders today as examples to 600 million women in India- Pratibha Patil, Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Girija Vyas, Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Sushma Swaraj, Meira Kumar, Najma Heptulla, Kiran Bedi, Shabna Azmi, Hema Malini, and Brinda Karat, along with a handful of another 50 or so at the national level. Majority of these are there because of their father, husband or another relative.
It is estimated that some 11 percent of all corporate chiefs in India are women.


Clearly women’s representation at the top of the governing structures is low with 10 percent of seats compared with 90 percent representation made by men
The entire process has to be streamlined and strengthened with financial support and training to develop leaders. The present quota system at the local level based on gender, caste, etc. is largely abused by men.
School curriculum, colleges, and MLAs, MPs not connected to men leaders have to be developed through genuine education and skills with scholarships, training programs and centers of study, research, degrees like Bachelor and Master of Public Admin, Leadership, etc.
Institutions and programs are needed but men leaders like the PM also have to give a chance to women and put them on top! 10 percent is too low. It will take much longer to have up stream flow of women leaders from grassroots to the top. Even many of the present district level women leaders, MLAs and MPs are relatives of men leaders. It is much easier and faster to put shining examples in the cabinet, ministers, commission members, Vice Chancellors, some professors, civil leaders at district levels, etc.
While every major national party in recent years declared through their manifestos that they would implement a 33 percent reservation for women in legislative assemblies and the Parliament, the records tell a different story altogether. The representation of women in the Lok Sabha has basically remained stagnant. It reached a “high” of 9 percent in 1999. This figure has not been crossed since then. Thereafter, it has declined in 2004 rather than registering an increase.
.The dismal figures for India has led some to call for passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which would reserve 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.
All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said: ‘The government should stop paying lip service, and actually put words into action.’ Indian Parliament will continue as a man's world
The level of political participation among women in any society acts as a reliable barometer of the health of its democracy. Thus in India, where there is 33% reservation for women in Iocal bodies, in some states it has exceeded that number with women winning in general seats, like West Bengal (over 40%) and Kerala (over 35%).This clearly indicates that women, if given a chance, can prove their mettle in the political arena. There are today over 10 lakh women in the panchayats and other elected local bodies in India.
It is a positive feature that 59 women have won in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, but if the Women’s Reservation Bill, pending for the last twelve years,(recently passed in the Rajya Sabha and waiting for the approval of Lok Sabha) had been legislated by the last UPA government, as it had committed in its NCMP, the figure, 180, would have been three times more. With its victory in the elections and the support it is receiving from many parties, there is no reason why the UPA government should not be able to fulfill this commitment in its second tenure.
Attempts to establish reservations for women in the Indian Parliament have invoked stiff resistance - and even insecurities - among MPs, mostly male, which are unwilling to dilute their power.

Brinda Karat, a Rajya Sabha member of parliament and a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), recently told Indian media that the low presence of women in the Indian legislature stems from the perception that they will be unable to mobilize adequate funds and, hence, are not considered "winnable"

1 comment:

  1. Your article is very much helpful for all types of Competitive Exams. Your are right sir that WOMEN REPRESENTATION IN INDIAN PARLIAMENT is not sufficient, it needs to be increase.