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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS Women’s political empowerment — more talk, less action

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Women reservation, Parliament, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Census, delimitation, Urimai Thogai scheme etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Social empowerment, development and management of social sectors/services related to Education and women empowerment etc

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Parliament passed the women’s reservation Bill, which provides one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Key Features of the Bill

  • Reservation for Women in Lower House: The Bill provided for inserting Article 330A to the constitution, which borrows from the provisions of Article 330, which provides for reservation of seats to SCs/STs in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Bill provided that reserved seats for women may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in states or Union Territories.
  • In the seats reserved for SCs/STs, the Bill sought to provide one-third of the seats to be reserved for women on rotational basis.

Reservation for Women in State Legislative Assemblies:

  • The Bill introduces Article 332A, which mandates the reservation of seats for women in every state Legislative Assembly.
  • Additionally, one-third of the seats reserved for SCs and STs must be allocated for women, and one-third of the total seats filled through direct elections to the Legislative Assemblies shall also be reserved for women.

 

Reservation in other countries:

  • Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan have opted for the legislative route
    • They are faring better in terms of representation of women in their legislatures.
  • Pakistan: 17% seats are reserved for women in its national assembly
  • Bangladesh has reserved 50 out of 350 seats in its Jatiya Sangsad
  • Nepal has reserved 33% of the total seats for women.
  • There are many countries where there are no laws mandating quotas for women
    • Political parties are required to give a certain percentage of tickets to women candidates.
      • Australia (38%)
      • Canada (31%)
      • South Africa (45%)
      • Sweden (46%)
    • They have no legislatively-backed quotas in their Parliament
    • Most of these countries have more than 30% women in their respective Parliaments.

 

Women reservation in India:

  • Earlier Bill reserving 33% seats for women was passed in the Upper House.
    • It could not be passed in the Lower House
  • Government has chosen the quota route for the political empowerment of women by enacting the Constitution (One Hundred and Sixth Amendment) Act of 2023.
    • Reserving by law 33% seats in State Assemblies and Parliament

 

Challenges:

  • Implementation of the present law is contingent on the conduct of the next Census and the subsequent delimitation exercise.
  • Census and delimitation are not purely administrative eventualities.
  • There has been a freeze on delimitation since 1976 in order to provide a level-playing field for States to contain population growth.
  • States which have improved indicators around women empowerment would now stand to lose seats to Parliament if a delimitation exercise is held.
  • Legality of the contingency clause: Whether a law can be contingent upon an uncertain future event requires determination by the constitutional courts.
  • The law is tied to another future law which may not be dealt with until after the next general elections to the Lok Sabha.

 

Way Forward

  • There is another route of reservation within parties while giving tickets, which is equally effective for women’s political representation.
  • This is a welcome step in the direction of women’s political empowerment: The patterns of ticket distribution in the recently held Assembly election do not indicate the same commitment for women’s political empowerment as was shown by the leaders of various political parties in Parliament.
  • Elections in the states: No political party has reached even the 15% mark in giving tickets to women candidates — far less than the mandated 33%.
  • Political parties are more interested in viewing women as voters than encouraging and empowering them as legislators.
  • The initiative of enacting the women reservation Act, 2023 is a commendable move by the parliamentarians of the day.
    • Due to its linkage with the new delimitation which will be done after 2026, the law looks good only on paper.
  • In spite of not having any law, regional parties such as the TMC have fielded candidates successfully and won electoral battles.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space?(UPSC 2019) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India.(UPSC 2015) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)