“The reservation of seats for women in the institution of local self-government has had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian political process”. Comment. (250 words)

The Indian political process continues to be patriarchal despite the reservation of seats for women in the institution of local self-government (LSGs).

Role of LSGs in Women Empowerment

  • LSGs have played a crucial role in empowering women by granting them 33% reservation in these institutions.
  • As of December 2017, there were 13.72 lakh elected women representatives (EWRs) in LSGs, constituting 44.2% of the total elected representatives.
  • Women sarpanchs accounted for 43% of total gram panchayats across the country by December 2018.
  • Women’s representation in LSGs has provided an opportunity to low caste women to participate in mainstream political processes and boosted their confidence.

Why Reservation of Seats has had a Limited Impact

  • The representation of women has been limited by patriarchal norms, and the number of women in higher levels of participation (such as Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) has not increased.
  • Domestic responsibilities, cultural attitudes, lack of support from family, lack of political will, lack of political background, and socio-cultural barriers prevent women from entering politics.
  • The real power is often usurped by the husbands of elected women representatives, and the 108th Amendment Bill for women’s reservation in the legislature has been languishing for two decades.
  • The cultural environment still puts emphasis on men, and the political environment of instability and personality traits also limits women’s participation.

Way Forward

  • Politics should be seen as a career rather than a dirty affair.
  • Political parties should increase women representatives.
  • Gender stereotypes should be changed through awareness and education.
  • Women’s leadership and communication skills should be enhanced through education and empowerment.
  • LSG members should be trained to understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Student politics should be encouraged, and the significance of women’s role in decision-making should be promoted in educational institutions.
  • Financial support for women candidates should be considered.

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