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Representation of Women in Parliament & State Legislatures


In ancient times, a woman’s and a man’s status were equal. However, as time passed, women’s status deteriorated day by day. India has become a predominantly patriarchal society with significant gender disparities. Following the struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged women to join the fight against the British Empire. Mahatma Gandhi’s initiative directed and encouraged more and more women to participate in the country’s decision-making. Over the previous two decades, the rate of involvement of women in the National Parliaments globally has risen from 11.8 percent in 1998 to 23.5 in current times. But we still have a long way to go to ensure equitable and fair representation of women.1

During the struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi made sure that women played an important role. As a result, the concept of women participating in the country’s decision-making process was born. The women in India likewise requested equal voting power in 1917 far before other countries started seeking it. Equal rights were also enshrined in the Constitution by the constituent assembly. Discrimination based on sex is likewise prohibited under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. Women have the same right to vote as men under the Constitution. It is also the state’s responsibility to protect divorced and bereaved women. Nonetheless, despite the constitutional guarantee and women’s participation in the independence war, women in politics continue to be underrepresented in comparison to men.2

The rise and rise of women’s turnout have been one of the most gratifying stories of India’s political democracy in recent years. Women made up a pitiful 46.7 percent of the electorate in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections, in which the Election Commission presented distinct data for male and female voter turnout for the first time. However, by 2019, the percentage has increased by about 20% to 67.18 percent. During the same period, men’s turnout climbed by only 5 percent —from 62.1 percent in 1962 to 67.08 percent in 2019. In 2019, a watershed moment in India’s electoral history occurred when women’s turnout in Lok Sabha elections was marginally greater than men’s due to the disparity in voter turnout growth rates.

The number of women voters per 1,000 male voters, known as the SRV, is an essential indicator for measuring gender bias in voting roles. It’s similar to the population sex ratio (PSR). According to Mudit Kapoor and Shamik Ravi’s work Women Voters in Indian Democracy: A Silent Revolution, India’s SRV has risen dramatically from 715 in the 1960s to 883 in the 2000s. It had climbed to 928 by 2019. A CSDS survey from 2014 disproved a myth regarding Indian women voters. Seventy percent of women polled stated they never consult their spouses when deciding whom to vote for. Given how men and women vote differently and independently, there are differences in voting intentions between the two. For a party, this difference can be as high as 15 to 20%.3

Womens’ Political Participation in India

Following the announcement of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential election in the United States of America, attention turned to Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris has been elected as the United States’ first female Vice President. Kamala Haris’ historic victory is a watershed moment in American history that will serve as a role model for women all over the world. Six women from various ethnicities and origins have also declared their candidacy for President before the election began. It was a significant success for the United States, which has a low rate of female participation in politics and hence can benefit from this.

The world’s youngest Prime Minister, Sanna Mirella Marin was selected as the Prime Minister of Finland in December 2019. Sanna Marin questioned sexism in decision-making power for the country which has been ruled by men for years. Following the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Kate Laurel Ardern, was praised around the world for making remarkable progress in the country by managing the coronavirus pandemic. Strong female leaders have been seen all around the world. Even in India, women have held positions of power. However, the representation ratio is still quite low.

In terms of the percentage of women in the lower house of a world parliament, India ranks 153rd out of 190 countries. The turnout for the 17th Lok Sabha elections in 2019 was 67 percent, which has been improving for many years. In this election, the number of women voting has also increased. We saw 78 women Parliamentarians in the 17th Lok Sabha election. Women’s representation, on the other hand, is only 14 percent in a country where women make up 48 percent of the population. Seven of the 29 states did not have any female representatives. Female representation is higher in Pakistan and Bangladesh than in India.

There were over 8,000 candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, with around 700 of them being women. Seventy-eight of these women were elected to the Parliament, a slight increase from the previous election in 2014 when 62 women were elected. According to a news channel’s analysis, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have elected the most women MPs, each with 11 candidates. Mayawati, the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party, and Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, are among the prominent women leaders in these states. Following UP and Bengal, Maharashtra has eight female MPs, Odisha has seven, and Gujarat has six. Women MPs were elected in 22 of the 29 states, leaving seven states with no female representation in the legislature. Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim are the seven states.

During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 556 (7 percent) female candidates out of the absolute 8,070 challenged. The number of women challenging saw a slight expansion to 668 (8 percent) out of 8,251 all-out candidates in the 2014 elections. The sixteenth Lok Sabha had 62 (11 percent) female MPs out of 543 MPs. To place it in context, just about nine out of the 10 parliamentarians were men. This number has expanded to 66 now after four female candidates won during the by-surveys that occurred between 2014 and April 2019. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, TMC had the most noteworthy level of women candidates. It handled 13 female candidates, trailed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which handled 5. The Congress handled 60 female candidates among the 464 seats it battled, establishing a simple 12.9 percent of its complete candidates. The BJP, then again, handled 38 female candidates among the 428 seats it battled on, making it 8.9 percent.”4

While the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw the largest number of women candidates getting seats in the lower place of the Parliament, the equivalent portrayal of women in Parliament actually has far to go. A recent report by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research assesses that “women legislators in India raise glow development in their voting demographics by around 15 rate focuses per annum more than male legislators. This review, named ‘Women legislators and monetary execution’, looks at information for 4,265 state gathering supporters somewhere in the range of 1992 and 2012. During this period the nation saw a solid financial development. Likewise, the portion of state Assembly situates won by women expanded from around 4.5 percent to almost eight percent, the review states.

Overall figures on the portrayal of women in the initiative and their political cooperation in the Parliament is horrifyingly low. As of November 2018, 24 percent of all women public parliamentarians across the world were women, a 13 percent increment from 1995 (11.3 percent). As of January 2019, 11 women were filling in as Heads of State and 10 as Head of Government, as per the United Nations. Among nations in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), India has 12.6 percent of chosen women agents in their public parliaments, just in front of Sri Lanka (5.3%) and Maldives (4.7%), as per January 2019 information incorporated by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a multilateral organization.

Elements influencing the participation of women in Indian politics

Women’s political participation has traditionally been low-key. They continue to be devoted voters, supporters, or political wives. Their active engagement in the decision-making process, on the other hand, is still in the background, and they rarely hold positions of authority. Only a few women from wealthy families or with strong political ties came forward to participate in politics. Due to a variety of factors, the women have been unable to come forward. Here are a few reasons:

Stereotypical minds
Unfortunately, politics has always been regarded as ‘dirty’ and full of unfair competition. It was once thought to be a domain for men only. The field is thought to necessitate hardship and strength. Politics has been depicted as a competition of greed, and this is how most people perceive it. Furthermore, society’s stereotyped view is that males determine rules, and women are obligated to follow them. One of the key causes for women’s lower engagement is the gender role linked with men and women. Women have traditionally been tasked with managing household activities. Women should be encouraged to break free from stereotypical roles and participate in the country’s decision-making process.

Lack of political participation
Women are also absent from political debates and dialogues. It has been observed that women are uninterested in politics and do not want to participate in the “dirty game.”

Economic conditions
People’s political participation is also influenced by their family’s economic situation. For political motivation to occur, there must be a suitable knowledge and sociological context. Political participation is heavily influenced by a person’s cultural, financial, and sociological background. Women are limited to their houses, and their father, brother, or spouse make the key decisions in their lives.

Household chores
Because of their household responsibilities, women are hesitant to vote during elections. Being a member of a political party entails commitment; however, a woman must return home after work to continue with household responsibilities. Women find it difficult to work for such long periods of time as a result of this.

Lack of financial control
Women also lack financial assistance and autonomy over their finances, making it harder for women to participate in elections. Even if she works and brings money home, the money is still in the hands of the family’s male members. As a result, she has no control over her finances.

Lack of political knowledge
Some women are unaware of the significance of political participation. Many people are uninterested in having a voter identification card. They lack sufficient understanding of how politics and political institutions work.

Increase in violence in politics
In politics, there has been an escalation of violence. Women have been forced out of politics due to a major increase in crime, corruption, and insecurity. The dominating men in political parties frequently fail to recognize women’s efforts. Women’s hard work has been hampered by the assumption that the leader should be masculine.

Lack of safety
Lack of exposure to politics outside of their immediate family has been a big reason for their avoidance of politics. To make her presence felt in Indian politics, a woman must overcome numerous obstacles.

Women Leaders in India

India is a long way behind these nations like Bangladesh and Rwanda in the absolute level of women legislators. Notwithstanding these nations being less evolved and having had a new history of savagery, as in Rwanda, these nations have more women legislators when contrasted with created and emerging nations like India and China. India has had a heavenly history of women pioneers in public development, yet it performs fundamentally less fortunate than these nations. It isn’t so much that women are inadequate or uncertain to act in politics. It’s simply that they aren’t offered an adequate number of chances to address themselves as pioneers. Whenever women are given open doors, they perform diversely and even roll out a few conspicuous improvements in the framework as well as in the public eye.

Fundamentally the political work of women has added to the development of women’s freedoms in nations all over the planet throughout the long term. With regards to Indian women’s political job, the development against endowment passings, abusive behavior at home, custodial assault actually fill in as significant achievements for the country. Various women political laborers and activists have driven lobbies for better wellbeing, sterilization, and schooling in the country. The milestone 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts that accommodate 33% of reservation of seats for women in the neighborhood government establishments have opened up huge opportunities for women to partake in the political cycles in the country.

North of 1,000,000 women had the option to join formal political cycles out of the blue. The cooperation of women in the cycles has been joined by a refreshingly unique way to deal with the work and it is additionally seen that they have set various plans that ended up being more applicable to the existences of the residents. The consideration of women in these foundations has detailed convenient and proficient working, better duty assortment, more noteworthy regard for advancement work, etc. Yet, this likewise announced an issue. While the men will more often than not get their spouses chosen as the agents, they worked instead of them and women stayed as simple ostensible figures. However, this multitude of occasions demonstrates that women can do something amazing whenever given satisfactory open doors.

History has stood the splendor of women in politics, on numerous occasions. Indeed, even our nation has had a long history of women pioneers during public development. Women like Rani of Jhansi, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kasturba Gandhi, Rani of Ramgarh, Savitri bai Phule, and different women had a flawless effect on our general public, and, surprisingly, our current times are loaded with instances of women pioneers in our politics.

Sucheta Kriplani was the main head of the Women’s branch of the Congress Party. She likewise led the Quit India Movement with Aruna Asaf Ali and different women. Gandhi was exceptionally dazzled with her political commitment and aided in her arrangement as the Organizing Secretary of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust in 1946. This year ended up being extraordinary for her as she was chosen as an individual from the Constituent Assembly with the undertaking of setting out the Charter of the Indian Constitution. In 1949, she was picked as an agent to the United Nations General Assembly. Afterward, she battled her direction into turning into the very first woman to possess a situation in the Indian political circle, by turning into the principal woman Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Indira Gandhi was a government official and a focal figure of the Indian National Congress. She was the first and to date just female PM of India. She filled in as the Prime Minister of the country from 1966 to 1977 and again from January 1980 till her death in October 1984, making her the second-longest-serving PM of India after her dad, Jawaharlal Nehru. While she was the PM of the country, she sent off a few revolutionary projects for poor people and she additionally nationalized 17 of the banks. She was likewise known for her political tenacity and exceptional centralization of force. She went on battle with Pakistan on the side of the freedom development for East Bengal which prompted the arrangement of present-day Bangladesh. This progression expanded the local impact of India to the place where it turned into the main force of South Asia. She likewise organized a highly sensitive situation from 1975 to 1977, where common freedoms were suspended and the press was edited. It is said that it was a cruel time of barbarities. Yet, in 1984, she was killed by her own guardian after she sent off Operation Bluestar. The southernmost Indira point is named after her and the global air terminal at New Delhi is named after her. The biggest college on the planet, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), is in her honor.

Pratibha Patil filled in as the twelfth President of India from 2007 to 2012. An individual from the Indian National Congress, she is the main woman to hold this office. She has additionally filled in as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 2004 to 2007. She has been congratulated with Mexico’s most elevated Civilian honor Order of the Aztec Eagle in 2019.

Sushma Swaraj was a legislator and government official who served in different authoritative and managerial posts at the public and State level, Haryana. She even filled in as the head of BJP in Lok Sabha. She was multiple times a Member of Parliament and multiple times a Member of the Legislative Assembly. She was likewise the Union Minister Of External Affairs of India and turned into the second woman to do as such after Indira Gandhi. With her enormous work, she has really helped numerous Indians and other outside nationals to return to their nation of origin.

Nirmala Sitharaman is an Indian legislator filling the position of the current Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India. She has been an individual from the Rajya Sabha starting around 2014. She previously filled in as the Defense Minister of India, in this manner turning into India’s second female safeguard serve and furthermore the subsequent female money serve after Indira Gandhi, and first full-time serving Finance Minister. Before that, she has filled in as Minister of Commerce and Industry under Independent charge and has additionally been a representative of BJP. Forbes magazine positioned her 34th among the 100 most compelling women all over the planet in 2019.

Sheila Dixit was a lawmaker and stateswoman. She was the longest-serving boss pastor of Delhi as well as the longest-serving female boss priest of any Indian state. She served for a time of 15 years starting in 1998. She drove the Congress party to three sequential appointive triumphs in Delhi. She likewise got an honor from the Indo-Iran culture for her extraordinary exhibition.

Mamata Banerjee has been the Chief Minister of West Bengal beginning around 2011 being the main woman to hold the workplace. She established the All-India Trinamool Congress in 1998. She has recently served two times as Minister of Railways, the main woman to do as such. She was additionally the primary female Minister of Coal, and Minister of State for HRD, Youth Affairs, sports, Women and Child Development in the bureau of the Indian government. She has likewise been named as one of the most persuasive women on the planet. She is a self-educated painter and an artist. She likewise got the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year grant.

Vasundhara Raje Scindia is likewise perhaps the most compelling political head of Indium. She is presently filling in as the National Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She additionally held the post of thirteenth Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 2013 to 2018 and beforehand from 2003 to 2008, turning into the principal woman to hold this post. She is additionally at the top of the imperial Dholpur family. In 2007, she got the Women Together Award by the UNO for administrations delivered towards the self-strengthening of women.

Agatha Sangma is a Member of the Parliament of India. She addressed the Tura supporters of Meghalaya. She was the most youthful Minister of State in the UPA 2 Manmohan Singh’s Ministry.5

Need of Women Leaders

When the question is asked “what should be the standing or role of women in politics?” a lot of misogynistic rants are received accusing women of being inept or indecisive. Women’s contributions to keeping the polis together were overlooked even in ancient times. When women were given opportunities in politics, however, they excelled. Women’s contributions to these Panchayati raj institutions and local self-government were overlooked when they began working there. Even when women rose to positions of power in politics, their political aptitude and skills were questioned at every turn. Women were discouraged from even participating as a result of this. In the political arena, there is an obvious demand for more female leaders.

The first benefit of electing more women leaders is the dismantling of long-held assumptions and prejudices. For such jobs, women are stereotyped as indecisive, illogical, and inept. However, when more female leaders are elected, all of these prejudices will be shattered, and more women will be encouraged to join. In addition, due to a lack of role models, women do not participate in politics. There are only a few female leaders who can serve as role models for other women. As a result, if there are more female leaders in the industry, other women will become more aware of these opportunities and be inspired to pursue them.

Having more women in political entities is important for a variety of reasons, including providing role models for other women. Women who are elected to political bodies tend to focus more on what is referred described as “women’s problems.” When men are in authority, these issues are generally ignored. Women are often thought to produce more fruitful and inclusive outcomes when they are engaged and represented in important leadership roles in meaningful ways.

The comprehensive and fair portrayal of women in the public sphere is a quintessential component to building and supporting energetic and solid majority rules systems. More political interest of women likewise helps advance orientation balance and furthermore positively affect the scope of strategic issues and the arrangements progressed. There is likewise solid proof that as more women are chosen for political bodies, there is an equal expansion in policymaking accentuating personal satisfaction and furthermore focusing on family, racial, ethnic, and women-related issues. Women, more than men, will generally be exceptionally receptive to constituent worries and they additionally assist with getting enduring harmony among the individuals. Dynamic investment of women in the political circle will in general create higher resident trust in a vote-based system, via their own interest. Women are likewise seen to work more across partisan divisions and they additionally focus on wellbeing, disinfection, instruction, and other significant variables. Women’s political cooperation is additionally considered a definitive component for the improvement of a comprehensive, receptive, and straightforward majority rule government. Women should be urged and enabled to turn into a solid and conclusive local area and political innovators to satisfy the overall improvement objectives and furthermore to fabricate solid and reasonable political frameworks.6

Women reservation bill

Women lawmakers have far more obstacles and impediments to admission due to a variety of social, cultural, economic, institutional, and structural concerns. Quotas or reservations are one technique to circumvent these obstacles.

India adopted the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1994, providing women a 13 percent or 33% seat reservation in rural and urban local self-governments. This provision allowed women to participate in the political process in a variety of ways. Over a million women were allowed to participate in the political process, and their perspectives on development were refreshingly different. These local governments also claimed improved time efficiency, a greater focus on developmental goals, improved tax collections, and greater equity. However, this was insufficient because it had its own issues. The main issue was that there were no seats reserved for women in state and federal legislatures.

Following these revisions, in 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill was adopted, which provided for the rotating reservation of 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, and the State Legislative Assemblies. The United Front government of HD Deve Gowda first submitted this bill in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. The main goal of this measure was to set aside 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women. According to the bill, seats will be reserved on a rotational basis. The seats would be determined by a random drawing of lots, with each seat being reserved only once every three general elections. It aimed to set aside 13 percent of all seats for women from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The law was pushed through by the Vajpayee government in the Lok Sabha, however, it has yet to pass.7

The 1996 bill was reviewed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee, who made several suggestions. The 2008 Bill included five of these recommendations. Reservation for 15 years, quota-within-quota for Anglo-Indians, reservation in circumstances when the state has less than three Lok Sabha seats, reservation for the Delhi Assembly, and revising “not less than one-third” to “almost one-third” were among the recommendations. Two of the suggestions were left out, including the reserving of seats in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, as well as the sub-reservation of OBC women. In May 2008, the Congress-led UPA-I government reintroduced this bill. The measure from 2008 was referred to the Law and Justice Standing Committee. Although the committee was unable to achieve an agreement, it did make three suggestions. According to the proposals, every political party must provide 20% of its tickets to women, the reservation must not exceed 20% of total seats, and quotas for OBC women must be implemented. They also looked at two other ways to boost representation. The first was that political parties were required to propose women for a certain number of seats, and the second was that dual-member constituencies be established, with women competing for one of the seats.

The 108th Constitutional Amendment bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010, after it was reintroduced, however, it is still waiting in the Lok Sabha. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and Chirag Paswan have all been vocal opponents of the Women’s Reservation Bill. The bill is still pending in the Lok Sabha. It will only be passed if the ruling government, which has a majority, presses for it. Even after 24 years after its inception, it continues to languish. The Women’s Reservation Bill appears to be promising, and its endeavor to address internal nuances within the category of women by acknowledging their deprivation points is sure to bear fruit. A bill like this will ensure that their stories be heard, which would otherwise go untold.8

Need for the bill

Since the bill’s introduction, there has been no meaningful effort to increase women’s political participation. According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, India ranks 148th out of 193 nations in terms of female political representation. Since then, the administration has made no genuine steps to increase women’s participation. Furthermore, the Committee for the Empowerment of Women is governed by a limited law that allows it to only advise small changes to exist social programs.

The percentage of women in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is 11.6 percent and 11%, respectively, which is lower than practically every other country. This bill is urgently needed in order to increase women’s political participation. Many countries have implemented legislative and constitutional reforms to ensure increased female involvement, and they have been successful. As a result, the passage of this bill would undoubtedly assist women in entering the political sphere and having a good impact.

Women’s financial independence and education, which may have helped them break free from familial or societal bonds, are hampered by the absence of political representation of women in key positions in the National or State Legislatures. This bill ensures that women’s unheard deprivation or narration is called out and brought to the forefront. Furthermore, increased participation of women in politics would contribute to the progressive dismantling of a patriarchal mode of production, in which men profit materially from women’s subjugation in both the private and public spheres. The Women’s Reservation Bill is critical for a more egalitarian and gender-just society, yet we recognize that we still have a long way to go.


Democracy requires people from all walks of life to be adequately represented. There have been many atrocities against women in India, and there are ‘women issues’ that can only be understood from the perspective of a woman. The sexist mindset must be eradicated by not confining women inside the confines of gender-specific roles preconceptions. We have seen women in Indian politics who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and led the country to victory. Efforts to educate and enlighten young females about politics should be made. Reservation would be a significant step toward reaching the desired result. There have been various efforts to increase the presence of women in political leadership, but there is still a long road ahead for their representation unless men are sensitized and societal and institutional barriers are broken.


  1. https://www.ipu.org/our-impact/gender-equality/women-in-parliament
  2. https://blog.ipleaders.in/women-politics-required-change/
  3. https://theleaflet.in/the-crisis-of-under-representation-of-women-in-parliament-and-assemblies/
  4. https://www.news18.com/news/india/17th-lok-sabha-will-have-a-record-78-women-parliamentarians-but-equal-representation-is-still-far-from-reality-2159337.html
  5. https://blog.ipleaders.in/need-for-women-leadership-in-indian-politics/
  6. https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/women-politicians-261252-2015-09-04
  7. https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/publication_electronic/reserv_women_pers2008.pdf
  8. https://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/update-women%E2%80%99s-reservation-bill

This article is written by Arryan Mohanty, a student of Symbiosis Law School.

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