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Political empowerment of Women

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • According to the 2023 UNDP report, women’s political empowerment is crucial for enhancing governance and stimulating economic growth.
About Political empowerment

·       Political empowerment of women refers to their increased capacity to influence and participate in decision-making processes across all levels of political life.

·       It is integral to achieving gender equality and fostering a just and equitable society.

Current Status

  • India ranks 127th out of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, with a political empowerment rank of 48.
  • In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only 9% of contestants were women, with 78 winning seats, representing under 14.4% of all seat winners.
  • Women comprised only 10.5% of all Members of Parliament in 2021, with state assembly representation averaging at 9%.
  • Projections indicate transformative gender shifts in India’s electoral landscape, with women’s voter turnout expected to exceed men’s by 2029.
  • Recent state elections witnessed significant voter turnout among eligible women, particularly in rural areas.
  • Factors contributing to increased participation include India’s 33% reservation of seats in local representative bodies and grassroots self-help group movements.

Benefits of Women Political Empowerment (WPE)

  • WPE leads to responsive and transparent governance, reduces risks of civil unrest, and challenges gender stereotypes.
  • Studies show that WPE correlates with higher GDP growth rates, augmented presence in the economy, and reduced gender wage gaps.
  • Increased WPE fosters technological change, innovation, and growth, especially in non-Western nations.
  • WPE contributes to the realization of Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Women legislators demonstrate better economic performance and are less vulnerable to political opportunism.
  • WPE enhances women’s access to financial resources, as observed in rural India.

Challenges

  • Deep-rooted gender biases limit women’s access to political opportunities.
  • Women in politics face higher risks of violence, harassment, and intimidation.
  • Limited access to childcare, funding, and political networks hinder women’s ability to campaign and run for office.
  • Existing power structures and political systems often favour men, making it difficult for women to break through and win elections.
  • Women’s importance is often reduced to a transactional “vote-for-my-scheme” approach.

 

Strategies for Progress

  • Affirmative action policies can increase women’s representation, as seen in the Constitution (106th Amendment) Act, 2023.
  • Empowering women with political knowledge and leadership skills enhances their confidence.
  • Implementing robust legal frameworks is crucial to prevent violence against women in politics.
  • Public education campaigns can challenge stereotypes and promote gender equality.
  • Women’s organizations play a crucial role in advocating for women’s rights and supporting female candidates.

 

Conclusion

  • Gender equality in politics is essential for a stable and sustainable economy.
  • Further, women’s active participation as voters, poll workers, candidates, and lawmakers are crucial for accountable governance.

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