Political Participation of Women: A Case Study in India
18 Pages Posted: 26 May 2014
Date Written: May 25, 2014
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,…birth or other status. However, it is the most unfortunate that women have suffered inferior position to men in almost all societies of world. In ancient India, the woman enjoyed equal status with men in all spheres of the life. Women of later periods spanning between the middle and modern ages have been denied their rightful place of honour and a vortex of innumerable caste and communal combinations, has paid scant regards for the education and welfare of women culminating in child marriage, sati, ban on widow marriage, and divorce, to name a few atrocities on them. The ability to challenge the subordination was seriously affected by the omission of women from positions of power in all its manifestations. The leaders of both pre and post independent India paid nothing but lip service to the upliftment of women in various walks of life including rightful representation in the legislatures, both at the centre and in the states, with the result that even now women do not enjoy place of pride in the power centres of legislation, administration and party leadership. At the international level also, on women’s issues, women’s political empowerment was at the center stage of all the discourses, but still, in any political system, participation of women is very low as compared to men right from the developed to developing countries. No doubt, the principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The Constitution of India guarantees adult franchise and provides full opportunities and framework for women to participate actively in politics. But it is pity that the decades following independence witnessed a decline in the participation of women in the politics. The state and society seem to be lagging behind in offering them political reservations that were long overdue. Of late, the Women's Reservation Bill has been a political ball for nearly a decade and half. It has always triggered heated debates within Parliament and outside. The proposed legislation to reserve 1/3rd seats in the Parliament and State Legislatures for women was drafted first by the H D Deve Gowda-led United Front government. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. Although it has been introduced in Parliament several times, the Bill could not be passed because of lack of political consensus. Though our Constitution and various other legislative enactments and different Commissions established for women from time to time have made a number of efforts for the achievement of the objective of gender equality, yet in actual practice, the planned efforts to emancipate women educationally, economically and particularly politically did not yield the desired results over the decades after independence. This paper deals with the women emancipation through its political participation. Realizing women’s subjugation and subordination and affirmative discrimination against women in general there has emerged the need of their empowerment – both political and economic. The objective of this paper is to support and encourage the enactment of the Women's Political Reservation Bill. Additionally its aim is to stimulate the initiatives for stopping corruption, criminalization and communalization of politics, for enforcing stringent ceiling of funding expenses incurred for election campaigns and creating awareness in the society in order to inculcate the values of gender equality and gender justice. In order to achieve these objectives, the present work is based heavily on United Nations reports, International norms and conventions, Indian Constitutional provisions and other statutory enactments providing favourable laws rendering special privileges for the benefits of women, Government of India reports, NGO reports and important works by modern jurists who contributed a lot towards the evolution and growth of feminist jurisprudence and studies.
Keywords: Feminist Jurisprudence; Gender equality; Political Participation; Reservation; Women Empowerment.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation