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Women Members of Parliament in India

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2014 | Comment

The Indian Constitution guarantees it, but the reality is little different. Despite being a proponent of gender equity, India is yet to become a nation wherein women have proportional representation in politics. The Parliament hasn’t seen a fair percentage of women members that can vindicate the nation’s stand on giving a level playing field to women in politics.

Women Members of Parliament in India

Representation of Women in Parliament since Independence

It was a record of sorts in 2009 when 59 women were elected to the lower house of Parliament. 59 women MPs out of 543 meant the Lok Sabha was represented by 11 per cent of women. That was the highest number of women MPs elected to the Parliament since Independence. Simultaneously, Rajya Sabha witnessed 10.6 per cent women’s participation.

In the 16th Lok Sabha, 61 women leaders have made their way to the Parliament. This is the highest ever number of Lok Sabha seats won by women and constitutes 11.23 per cent of the total 543 Parliamentary seats.

Going back to the initial days after independence, it appears that the situation had been more than grim. The first Lok Sabha had only 4.4 per cent women members. The sixth Lok Sabha in 1977 witnessed the smallest proportion of women in Parliament at mere 3.5 per cent. Although the number of women MPs increased from 59 to 61 under the Modi government, it still remains far below the global average of 21.3 per cent.

In a recent study conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), India is placed at 111th position in the list of 189 countries having women representatives in Parliament. Even the lesser developed neighbors of India such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have around 20, 19 and 30 per cent women members in their respective parliaments.

Larger Women Representation in Parliament Need of the Hour

With gender-based violence ripping the country apart and appalling apathy becoming more and more evident across political class, it is argued that greater representation of women in Parliament will see an end to it. Even during the campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, most of the parties had vouched to bring in more reforms and make laws more ‘women-friendly.’

Although the present Lok Sabha has the largest number of women, India still has to be more accommodating to induct more women MPs so that issues concerning them get more prominence and are raised frequently in Parliament. Be it setting up of proposed rape crisis centres or brining in stringent changes in anti-rape legislations, greater voice for women populace in the form of larger representation in Parliament will push the stalled agendas.

BJP’s Focus on Women’s Reservation Bill

The BJP government has evinced its commitment to 33 percent representation of women in Parliament and state assemblies. Unlike in 2010 when UPA government couldn’t pass the Women’s Reservation Bill due to the opposition from allies, the new government has the requisite majority. The bill, which proposes to reserve one-third of the Lok Sabha and state assembly seats for women, is now looked upon as the apt vehicle of electoral reforms. For Narendra Modi, this is an opportunity to send across a strong message of women’s empowerment and progress.