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UPSC EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The representation of women in the incoming Lok Sabha

  • 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

  • India has elected 74 women MPs to Lok Sabha this year, four fewer than in 2019 and 52 more than in India’s first elections in 1952.
    • They make just 63% of the elected strength of the Lower House, much less than the 33% that will be reserved for women after the next delimitation exercise.

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Key Features of the Women Reservation 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.

 

Change in Women’s strength over years:

  • In 1952, women made up just 4.41% of the strength of the Lower House.
  • It increased to more than 6% in the election held a decade later, but again dipped to below 4% in 1971
  • It crossed the 10% mark in 2009, and peaked in 2019 at 36%.
    • India still lags behind several countries:
      • 46% of MPs in South Africa
      • 35% in the UK
      • 29% in the US.
    • Of the 74 women MPs elected, 43 are first time MPs.
      • This is higher than the overall percentage of newcomers in the House (59% vs 52%).
    • Women MPs have only 0.76 Lok Sabha terms of experience (one term is generally 5 years long) .
    • Women MPs, with an average age of 50 years, are younger.
      • The overall age of the House is 56.
      • They are as educated as their male counterparts, with 78% completing undergraduation.

Candidates’ composition:

●      Out of the total 8,360 candidates, who stood in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections: Around 10% were women.

●      This number has increased over time — it stood at 3% in 1957.

●      This is the first time that women candidates’ proportion touched 10%.

 

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%.
  • 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

  1. What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space?(UPSC 2019)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

  1. Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India.(UPSC 2015)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

 

Source: Indian Express