Women have more to prove than men, when it comes to politicsJulie Nixon Eisenhower
The status of men and women in ancient societies was at par. In the Indian context, women had an equal share in the politics and policy-making of the state. India has witnessed a number of queens in its history, who not only assisted the king but also independently administered the state. Further in time, during India’s struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged the women to join the fight against British Empire. It is important to note that, Mahatma Gandhi’s programme directed and supported more female participation in national decision making.
However, as time passed, women’s standing in society deteriorated day by day. The Indian society is now primarily identified as patriarchal in nature and having significant gender disparities. The phenomenon of discrimination against women can also be observed nowadays by the fact that women have been identified as a marginalized group, as a result of which they have been provided with reservations in the public sector undertakings by the Indian government.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN
As it has been aforementioned that Mahatma Gandhi made sure that women played an important role in the struggle for Independence, it is believed that this gave birth to the idea of women participating in the country’s decision-making process. Women in India claimed equal voting rights under Adult Voter Franchise in 1917 itself which is much before the women in other countries started demanding them. In addition to this, the framers of the Indian Constitution were conscious of the discrimination and oppression faced by the women of the Indian society and thus decided to resolve the same in the Constituent Assembly. This is when members of the assembly came up with Article 15 of the Constitution which prohibits sex-based discrimination in India.
It is also the state’s responsibility to protect the divorced and the bereaved women. Nonetheless, despite the Constitutional guarantee and women’s participation in the independence movement, women in politics as well as in the sphere of policymaking i.e. in parliament, continue to be underrepresented in comparison to men.
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN
To understand the political participation of women in India, let us understand the scenario of this agenda in other countries of the world.
LACK OF POLITICAL KNOWLEDGE
This is a well-known cause of the non-participation of women in politics. Women even in this age of globalization and technology remain unaware of the significance of political participation. It has been recorded that some sections of women in rural India are uninterested in having a voter identification card because they do not have the knowledge of the Adult Voter Franchise System. They lack sufficient understanding of how politics and political institutions work.
LACK OF SAFETY
Following the announcement of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 US Presidential election, the focus of the world turned towards Kamala Harris who was in the race for Vice President in the USA. She was eventually elected as the United States’ first female Vice President and her historic victory is a watershed moment in American history that will serve as a role model for women all across the world. It is also to be noted that a total of six women from various ethnicities and experiences announced their presidential candidacy before the election began. It was a significant achievement for the United States, which has a low rate of female participation in politics and hence can benefit from this.
Next in line, we have the instance of Finland where Sanna Mirella Marin achieved the feat of becoming the world’s youngest Prime Minister after she was chosen as the Prime Minister of Finland in December 2019. After becoming the Prime Minister, she stood up against sexism that was being practiced in the decision-making power of the country. Finland as a country has a history of being dominated by men for a very long period of time, and it takes a great amount of courage and strength to efficiently administer as well as stand for female rights at the same time in a country like Finland.
Following the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Kate Laurel Ardern, garnered worldwide praise for making remarkable progress in the country by managing the coronavirus pandemic. In the current times, the world has witnessed many female leaders taking charge and achieving great heights at the same point in time.
Even in India, women have held positions of power. However, the representation ratio remains quite low. In terms of the percentage of women in the lower house of a world parliament, India ranks 153rd out of 190 countries. The turnout for the 17th Lok Sabha elections in 2019 was 67 percent, which has been improving for many years. In this election, the number of women voting has also increased. We saw 78 women Parliamentarians in the 17th Lok Sabha election. In a country where women make up 48 percent of the population, however, women have only 14 percent representation. Seven of the 29 states did not have any female representatives. Female representation is higher in Pakistan and Bangladesh than in India.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN INDIAN POLITICS
Women’s political participation has traditionally been low-key. They continue to be devoted voters, supporters, or political wives. Their active participation in the decision-making process, however, remains in the shadows, and they rarely hold positions of influence. Only a few women from elite families or with strong political ties came forward to participate in politics. Multiple issues have prevented the women from coming forward. Among them are:
Unfortunately, politics has long been regarded as ‘dirty’ and full of unhealthy competitiveness. It was once thought to be a domain for men only because this field requires the qualities of strength and hardships. Furthermore, society’s stereotyped view is that males determine rules, and women are obligated to follow them. One of the key causes of women’s lower engagement is the gender role associated with men and women. Women have traditionally been tasked with handling home activities. Women should be encouraged to break free from stereotypes and participate in the country’s decision making process.
People’s political participation is also influenced by their family’s economic situation. Political motivation requires the appropriate knowledge and sociological environment. Political participation is heavily influenced by a person’s cultural, economic, and social background. Women are limited to their houses, and their fathers, brother, or spouse make the key decisions in their lives.
Politics has been a sphere where the maximum number of unlawful activities are committed and witnessed. This also became the reason for the non-participation of women in the field of politics. It is a well-known fact that a woman has to overcome many hindrances to make their presence felt in Indian politics.
NEED FOR WOMEN IN POLITICS
In the recent census, the women have achieved an equal par in the terms of numerical preponderance, therefore, it is very important to have proper representation of women in the Parliament. Women if given the platform of Parliament will be able to raise issues that women face and will be better able to understand and formulate laws. Women’s opinions should be treated similarly to men’s. It is critical for a vibrant democracy to have diversity in the Parliament so that new perspectives can be heard and every section of society can participate in the decision-making process. Women’s equality will help the country grow economically and socially.
People’s preconceived mindsets that males can only be leaders and women must be submissive and follow the rules must be challenged. More women in Parliament will serve as role models for others, and people will have more faith in women’s decision making abilities. Young girls will be encouraged to do better and will emerge with a better understanding of and knowledge of politics.
As a result, democracy requires people from all walks of life to be adequately represented. There have been many crimes against women in India, and there are ‘women issues’ that can only be understood from the perspective of a woman. The misogynist mindset has to be done away with by not keeping women confined within the walls of gender-specific roles and stereotypes. We have seen women in Indian politics who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and led the country to victory. It is necessary to make efforts to educate and enlighten young females about politics. Reservation would be a significant step toward obtaining the desired result.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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