India: Women in Politics By Jacob SChorsch

My topic is women’s rights in present-day India. I chose to do a question relating to how women are represented in politics, and whether or not there is gender equality in the governmental system.

Throughout the world, there is a wide range of how many women are represented in the government. The percentages vary from 1.2% to 63.8%. The global average is only 22.4%. That means that for every 50 government officials, 11 of them are women, whereas 39 of them are men. India is even lower than the world average. Only 12% of the Indian Parliament is women. For every 3 women, there are 22 men. Out of the 543 available seats, 65 of them are taken by women. This is ranked 144th out of 186 listed countries. If that isn’t enough of a disheartening ratio, let’s look at Oman. There are 85 government officials currently in Oman. One of them is a woman. One. To go back to India, let’s take a look at it’s neighbors and how they fare in terms of equal gender representation. Pakistan has 340 seats, 70 of them taken by women, having a 20.6%. Bhutan has 47 seats, 4 women. The percentage is 8.5%. Nepal has 595 seats, 176 women. Percentage: 29.6%. China has 2959 seats, and 699 women. That is a 23.6%. Bangladesh: 350 seats, 70 women. The percentage is 20%. Myanmar: 433 seats, 43 women. 9.9%. The fact that India, with a 12% of women in government is only 5th out of 7 in this group is disturbing. None of these countries have percentages over 30%. Only 2 countries in the world, Rwanda and Bolivia have percentages above 50% for women. 2 countries, out of 186. Compared with the BRICS group (countries with similar economic development), India ranks 4th out of the 5, in a group with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa. Let’s see how India has fared since the 1960’s, and how it has grown. In 1962, 7.56% were women. In 1971, it went back down a bit to 7%. In 1984, it significantly increased to 11.48%. In 1999, it went back down to 7.76%, and now, it is up to 12%, its second highest ever. India’s average representation of women is 9%. 9 women for every 91 men. Again, I find this extremely disturbing. However, this inequality is not for lack of women voter turnout. In fact, in the past elections, in 2014, in 16 out of 29 states, more women voted than men. 65.63% of women, only marginally worse than 67.09% of men. The main setback for women is education, or lack thereof. Many women are undereducated, do not understand the issues, and how each candidate’s policies would affect the problem. The general problem of undereducation of women in India is what is holding back the gender equal government, where there are just as many women as there are men. Though there hasn’t been much change to try and achieve this in the national government, several quotas have been established in local politics. For example, at least 33% of the seats in local government must be reserved for women. This is step in the right direction, however, this is not enough. A quota similar to this was proposed about a year ago for the national government, however it has not been passed, and it does not look like it will be. However, one party, the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) is fielding at least 15 female candidates in the coming assembly polls, for the first time ever. Out of 40 candidates, at least 15 of them will be women. This is an effort to make the governmental system more balanced in terms of gender inequality. To make the voices that are heard come from either side. The head of the AAP, Rajashree Nagvekar, a woman, believes that: “It is all about who can lead from the front and perform”. She believes that it should have nothing to do with what gender the person is, but whether or not their policies can affect the people in a positive, and successful way.
  1. Questions:
  2. How is the Indian government so unbalanced if the majority of women voted?
  3. Are there acts of violence due to this inequality. Give examples.
  4. Are the women in Indian politics ever harassed due to their gender?
  5. Why aren't more parties setting quotas for the number of women that must be candidates?

This is the main argument of feminists in India. They are not saying that no matter who they are, the women should be voted into office. However, they are expressing how a candidate must be more qualified for the position than its opponent, not more masculine. This is the central view of what I have learned while researching this topic. It is important for Americans to learn about this because it gives them a sense of how the world is not gender equal, and that other places have serious issues that should be dealt with. In fact, in America only 25% of government officials are women, an alarmingly low number.

  1. Bibliography:
  3. This is a reliable source because the author, Mrs. Rao is a respected data analyzer and author.
  5. This is a reliable source because it is updated monthly on statistics of countries' parliaments and who they are made up of.
  7. This source is reliable because it is updated every day with more than 660 newspapers, magazines, and journals across the globe.
  9. This is a credible source because it is a widely regarded, informative and reliable news source about India.

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