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.
- 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.