GS Mains Model Question & Answer : Discuss the political participation of women in in India? Explain Measures taken by the govt and challenges as well ? Comment

 GS Mains Model Question & Answer : Discuss the political participation of women in in India? Explain Measures taken by the govt and challenges as well ? Comment

Q. Discuss the political participation of women in in India? Explain Measures taken by the govt and challenges as well ? Comment

Model Answer:

Discuss the political participation of women in in India? Explain Measures taken by the govt and challenges as well ?

Women’s political participation has been considered a major measure of women’s empowerment. Globally, through histories of the world we have records of very few regents, sovereigns, and active agents in nobility who were women. Champions of liberalism like John Stuart Mill had advocated women’s participation in governance by the struggle for women suffrage in the self avowed liberal west very well illustrates the entrenched nature of Patriarchical resistance to women’s empowerment. In the last century more women heads of state could be counted in Asia as compared to Europe and the struggle for women suffrage in India was physically less violent but this is not reflective of greater acceptance of women in decision-making in public spaces.

To measure women’s empowerment now GEM takes 3 indicators, women’s participation in economic, political and professional activities. Within political power what is measured is mainly women in parliament, judiciary or in local bodies. Women’s empowerment or disempowerment has to be seen in all areas physical, socio cultural religious, political legal and economic. It is also now often pointed out that women’s empowerment must be seen as a process where in we must consider women’s awareness consciousness, choices with live alternatives, resources at their disposal, voice, agency and participation. These are all related to enhancement of women’s capabilities and decisions they take individually or collectively for themselves.

Several programmes in India like Mahila Samakhya have accepted the process nature of women’s empowerment. The understandings of empowerment in PACS has also beensimilar but planning of activity, time and budgets to ensure the empowering processes need greater scrutiny. Women’s education, livelihood and personal exercise of agency have to be systematically promoted.

The 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution have impacted nearly 600 million Indian people in 500,000 villages. Interestingly the percentage of women at various levels of political activity have risen from 4-5% to 25-40%. Both nationally as well as at the state and local levels women in elected bodies have been very few and even those who have been elected when observed from closer quarters present a complex picture. The money and muscle associated with the electoral process inhibits a large number of women from joining politics. Restriction on mobility, lack of control over resources and low literacy rates are well known obstacles but recent panchayat elections have evidenced a phenomenally large number of elected leaders much beyond reserved 33?/o seats Areas where PACS, Mahila Samakhya or other CSO initiatives are working women are more articulate and vigilant and have used opportunity to improve ICPS centres, primary schools sanitation and have also publicly dealt with issues of misbehavour with girls, violence and alcoholism as well as sensitive issues of widowed women dressing in coloured clothes. Women are increasingly demanding not only basis but also land literacy and fuller longer trainings instead of being short changed through orientations.
It is obvious that a more active Gram Sabha which is sensitive to women’s specific issues is a much desired goal as a woman sarpanch or BDC member in a gender hostile panchayat may not be able to accomplish and sustain much for the benefit of women or the village community at large. More women in grass root organizations; better law and order will ensure better engagement of women in decision-making.

However, the battle to make the PRI’s affective instruments of local rural governance is a battle, a struggle of the grass roots, population (women and men) against administrative apathy and listlessness, against ignorance and low awareness. For women these odds are accompanied and intermeshed with deep rooted patriarchal practices that determine and sanction norms of speech and behaviour both within and outside the home.
Thus while Pre election trainings of voluntary organisations and CSVOs serve to build awareness about the duties, responsibilities of PR’s and about voting practices, the presence and working of women’s voluntary organisations at the grass roots have served to sharpen women’s understanding about the operation of patriarchy in personal lives and work places and the methods and practices to overcome and combat them individually and collectively.

Organisations such as Mahila Samakhya working to conscientise and organise women in groups and sanghas are able to address the issue of women and their participation in a two fold manner. On the one hand they organise intensive training programmes for women PRI representatives to make them effective functionaries and on the other hand tghere own programmes with their members within there collectives serve to build a culture of questioning, critical thinking, collective decision­making and mobilisation on public.issues. A mobilised community of women is thus able to raise issues of significance to the local community within the meetings, demand accountably from representatives and administrative officials regarding financial and procedural matters and intervene with creative suggestions.

It is thus that the dominance of patriarchy money power, party politics muscle power are steadily undercut and eroded and women’s concerns are gradually pushed to the forefront of local politics.
Drawing from intensive discussions at the level of sanghas and mahasanghas and the experiences culled called from functionaries and from trainings, Mahila Samakhya has drawn out learnings to strengthen women’s participation in the Panchayats. A memorandum lmnipiti illnu these has been presented to the Panchayat Raj Department. It states-

  • It is imperative to inscribe the budget for the village on the Panchayat Bhawan.
  • Thefre should be rules and strategies to train and activate women members who have been elected to the post of Pradhans m members.
  • There should be strict rules for ensuring the participation of 2/3 voters in the open meeting.
  • the signatures of the people in the executive register of the open meeting should be ensured.
  • It should be compulsory for the Pradhan/Secretary to sit in the panchayat Bhawan.
  • The development plan should be widely disseminated so that it can reach the general public.
  • The dates and time of the panchayat meetings in the state of U.P. should be decided in advance.
  • The venue of the meeting should be either the Panchayat Bhawan ofr a public place, to enable all gram sabha members to present their problems.

Entry into public space, utilisation of authority in practice, trainings by government and nongovernment agencies are all part of a process ofiradual growth of knowledge, self-esteem and empowerment, which gives women the agency to function effectively in the political process.

Even proxy and dummy candidates may experience this process of empowerment women who stand and win from general seats are more likely to have a higher commitment towards, and an understanding of the political process.

Having a high participation of women at the local self government level can create an environment which is enabling for other women, inceptive to the idea of gender based initiatives and can serve to monitor .mil implement community and gender based programmes of the ilovernment related to education, nutrition and health.
It offers a potential opportunity which can be utilised at an optimum lavel by appropriate, trainings both capacity binding and information pnhancing - by government departments and the NGO Sector.

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