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June 7 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The political empowerment of women in India has been a topic of significant discussion, particularly in light of the recent Lok Sabha elections of 2024. The number of women MPs has decreased from 78 in 2019 to 74 in 2024, which constitutes 13.63% of the total strength of the lower house. This figure is well below the proposed 33% reservation for women representatives. 

Representation of Women in Parliament Over the Years 

  • 1952: Women constituted only 4.41% of the Lower House. 
  • 1962: The number increased to more than 6%. 
  • 1971: Representation dipped to below 4% despite Indira Gandhi being the Prime Minister. 
  • 2009: Women’s representation crossed the 10% mark. 
  • 2019: Peaked at 14.36%. 
  • 2024: 74 women MPs were elected, making up 13.63% of the Lower House. Notably, 43 of these women are first-time MPs with an average age of 50 years and 78% have completed undergraduate education. 

State Legislative Assembly Representation 

  • Chhattisgarh: Highest representation at 14.4%. 
  • West Bengal: 13.7%. 
  • Jharkhand: 12.4%. 

Comparison with Global Standards 

  • Global Average: According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) ‘Women in Parliament’ Report (2021), women make up 26.1% of parliaments worldwide. 
  • India’s Rank: Lower than 140 other nations. 
  • Regional Comparison: India lags behind several African and South Asian countries like Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in terms of women’s representation in parliament. 

Need for Greater Political Empowerment of Women 

Accountability and Gender-sensitive Governance: 

  • Facilitates engagement in public decision-making. 
  • Ensures better accountability to women. 
  • Promotes gender equality in public policy and its implementation. 

Breaking the Patriarchal Mould of Indian Politics: 

  • Dismantles the male-dominated nature of Indian politics. 
  • Encourages women to occupy top party and government positions. 

Focus on Gender Issues: 

  • Higher numbers of women in parliament lead to stronger attention to women’s issues. 
  • Ensures appropriate policy responses and women-sensitive measures. 

Gender Equality: 

  • Fundamental prerequisite for genuine democracy. 
  • Establishes public inquiries on women’s issues and places them on legislative agendas. 

Changing Stereotypes: 

  • Cooperates with the women’s movement and media. 
  • Changes the stereotypical image of women from ‘homemakers’ to ‘lawmakers. 

Improvement of Economic Performance and Infrastructure: 

  • Women legislators enhance the economic performance of their constituencies. 
  • Example: Female-led constituencies showed better completion rates for projects like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. 

Reasons Behind Low Political Representation of Women 

Gender Gaps in Political Ambition: 

  • Women are less encouraged to run for office. 
  • Tend to shy away from competition. 
  • Fear of ‘big politics and personal reservations. 
  • Family considerations often influence women’s political careers. 

Patriarchal Society: 

  • Gender disparities in education and access to resources. 
  • Sexual division of labour: Women are responsible for most housework and childcare. 
  • Cultural and social expectations hinder women’s political participation. 

Cost of Contesting Elections: Rising costs and lack of access to resources make it harder for women to raise funds for elections. 

Male Politicians as Gatekeepers: Party leaders prefer male candidates due to biases regarding the winnability of female candidates. 

Growth of Criminalization and Corruption: Lack of political education and the increase in criminalization and corruption deter women from entering politics. 

Measures Undertaken for Political Empowerment of Women 

Legislative Measures 

  • Nari Shakti Vandana Adhiniyam (Women Reservation Act): Provides 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. 
  • 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts: Provide 33% reservation to women in local bodies, with some states like Bihar increasing this to 50%. 
  • Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women: Formed in 1997 to advance women’s positions. 
  • Gender-Neutral Rules of Lok Sabha: Rules were made gender-neutral in 2014, referring to the head of committees as Chairperson. 

Constitutional Measures 

  • Article 14: Establishes equality as a fundamental right, necessitating equal opportunity as per Article 15. 
  • Article 46: Responsibilities of the state to safeguard vulnerable groups against social injustice. 
  • Article 243D: Ensures participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions with at least 33% reservation. 
  • Article 326: Elections to be based on adult suffrage. 

International Covenants 

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979): Upholds women’s right to participate in public life. 
  • Beijing Platform for Action (1995), Millennium Development Goals (2000), and Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030): Emphasize removing barriers to equal participation and increasing women’s representation in parliament. 

Way Forward 

  • Checks on the Criminalization of Politics: Address larger issues of electoral reforms to achieve the desired results of women reservation. 
  • Intra-party Democracy: Institutionalize intra-party democracy to make a wider pool of women candidates available. 
  • Nominations to Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Councils: Every political party should nominate 33% women and 67% men for elections to achieve true representation. 
  • Promotion of Women Participation at Panchayat Level: Strengthen women self-help groups to ensure capable women candidates for MP/MLA elections. 
  • Strengthening Women’s Agencies and Organizations: Build a progressive society with equality of opportunities among all citizens. 
  • Promotion of Girls’ Participation in Colleges/Universities: Encourage girls’ participation in student political parties and debates to enhance their political skills for the future. 

Mains Question: 

  1. “Discuss the challenges and measures for enhancing the political representation of women in India, highlighting the recent trends and international comparisons. (150 WORDS)”


June 7
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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