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Men Without Women: Powerplay Of Patriarchy And Politics – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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India, being a democratic country follows the principle of “ Government Of the people, For the People, and By the people”. Indian political system is such that it is elected by all the sections of society but doesn't comprise all diverse sections such as minorities, women, entrepreneurs, etc, equally. According to political scientist Carole Pateman, patriarchy refers to "The patriarchal construction of the difference between masculinity and femininity that is the political difference between freedom and subjection."Women comprise 50% of the population of India, and their non-participation in significant positions specifically in politics can gender-inclusive policies, programs, etc as a result it is necessary to take steps towards ensuring equal representation of women at the political front that will open the door for several opportunities for women as shift can be seen from data released by Election Commission of India for the current elections of 5 states in India that show a surge in women voter ratio that depicts that women are not only shedding the shackles of patriarchy but keeping their front foot in important decision making that will decide the future of our country.  

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Introduction

India, being a democratic country follows the principle of “ Government Of the people, For the People, and By the people”. Indian political system is such that it is elected by all the sections of society but doesn’t comprise all diverse sections such as minorities, women, entrepreneurs, etc, equally. According to political scientist Carole Pateman, patriarchy refers to “The patriarchal construction of the difference between masculinity and femininity that is the political difference between freedom and subjection.

“Women comprise 50% of the population of India, and their non-participation in significant positions specifically in politics can gender-inclusive policies, programs, etc as a result it is necessary to take steps towards ensuring equal representation of women at the political front that will open the door for several opportunities for women as shift can be seen from data released by Election Commission of India for the current elections of 5 states in India that show a surge in women voter ratio that depicts that women are not only shedding the shackles of patriarchy but keeping their front foot in important decision making that will decide the future of our country.  

Despite constituting over half of India’s population, women’s low political participation calls for taking steps towards gender-inclusive policies that ensure equal representation for women on the political front. According to data released by the Election Commission of India from the current elections of five states, there is a surge in women’s voter ratio. This indicates that women can break free from the shackles of patriarchy and actively participate in decision-making and political processes. 

Necessity

The equal participation of women in politics and government is integral to building strong communities and a vibrant democracy in which women and men can thrive. According to the research by the Pew Research Centre, it has been concluded that women are more inclined towards realistic issues such as education, health care, birth control, abortion, the environment, and Medicare at higher rates than men. As a result, Women’s engagement in the political process—both voting and running for office—is essential to ensuring that these issues are addressed in ways that reflect their needs. 

India currently underwent Assembly Elections for 5 states i.e. Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Mizoram and the ruling government recently passed the Women Reservation Bill, 2023 to ensure 33% representation of women in politics after the delimitation exercise. Still, these elections witnessed a mere 12% participation of women candidates which is good for nothing for a populous country like India which has a population of about 140 billion. Though this reform represents a significant change in women’s status, a  study conducted by Carnegie states that India ranks  141 out of 185 countries globally concerning women’s political representation, further indicating the need for increasing the scope of women’s political participation in the future.

Challenges

  • Corruption- Corruption is like a virus that is engulfing a country’s economic development and growth at a rapid pace. According to studies conducted in Women and Sustainable Human Development, it is concluded that corruption is deeply rooted in patriarchal structures, and people who believe that men are better political leaders as compared to women are more prone to corrupt activities as mentioned in the blog of World Bank “Gender and Corruption: Time is Now”.  As a result, there is a need for higher political participation of women at political levels to reduce corruption and that will sync with the Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 16 (ensuring political participation of women on the political front reducing corruption respectively.
  • Lack of Political  Education – Due to the low prevalence of politics as a career option for women, they are not aware of the proper functioning of the political system in India which puts them in a disadvantaged position in terms of active participation in political awareness campaigns and even courses should be incorporated to increase education of politics among women.
  • Stereotypical-  According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2022-23, The female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country has improved significantly by 4.2 percentage points to 37.0% in 2023, which states that there is a paradigm shift in the stereotypical mindset of people that represented women as confined to the four walls of a household and doing unpaid work. Moreover if analyzed, it can be stated that the biggest scam is the unaccountability of women’s unpaid services as it cannot be accounted for in monetary terms due to negligence this sector has faced over the years.
  • Patriarchy Casting Shadow on Different Sectors – India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2030 after the USA and China and according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is expected to grow by 6.8%, despite progressive India’s economic growth it lags in terms of social, political, and transformational growth.
  • Good Governance – Women’s participation in decision-making is essential for women’s interests to be incorporated into governance. It has been widely experienced that governance structures that do not provide for adequate participation of women, often suffer from state interventions that are neither inclusive nor democratic. Women’s participation at the grassroots level by giving reservation in local politics via the 73rd and 74th Amendments has proven to be instrumental in giving women a say in decision making but they are being dominated by the menace of sarpanch pati and ultimately, they are mere spectators of politics rather than being actual players.

Steps Taken for Women’s Upliftment in Politics

  • Women Reservation Bill, 2023 (Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam Bill) – This law was passed with the motto of ensuring 33% representation of women on the political front as currently, women hold only 15.2 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha and 13.9 percent in the upper House which is much lower than our neighbouring country Pakistan and some states like Himachal Pradesh have mere representation of 1% reservation is required to ensure women empowerment and to cover the damage caused in previous decades for effective policy implementation with the agenda of “ Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayaas, Sabha Vikas”. 
  • G20 Women Empower Mission – The G20 Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation (G20 EMPOWER) was a positive step in the direction of ensuring women’s leadership at global forums by ensuring representation at business, government, and private sector levels.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)- It is a milestone scheme of the government of India launched in 2015 intending to address gender-biased sex selective elimination, to ensure the survival and protection of the girl child, and to ensure education and participation of the girl child in education. The lack of political education can be addressed via support of such initiatives.
  • ‘Mission Shakti’ (Integrated Women Empowerment Programme) is an umbrella Scheme that aims to strengthen interventions for the safety, security, and empowerment of women for ensuring women-led development by making women equal partners in the nation-building process.

Way Forward

India has understood the need to record gender statistics on political participation since its independence. The process of capturing women’s participation at the local level is an evolving area and efforts are being made to improve the present infrastructure. More than 18 states and UT  of Puducherry are yet to have a woman Chief Minister which directly targets the under-representation of women in politics. So by addressing various roadblocks in the form of patriarchy, stereotypical mindsets, and violence in the workplace, we can ensure active participation of women in the country’s politics that will ensure equality in representation of all sections at the top position of the pyramid in terms of policy-making, political representation, and bureaucracy. 

Currently, only 10% of women are holding bureaucratic positions according to the data of Carnegie. Efforts can be made to capture the performance of women in debates, initiatives can be taken to bring legislation, and participation in other aspects of the democratic process. Proper gender budgeting has already been worked out for inclusive growth of women & girls by ear-marking one-third of the budget for the women in all the schemes and fruitful results of all these initiatives can be borne by increasing visibility and work-life balance favoring women by promoting the agenda of  ‘women-led development’.

References

Moghadam, V. M. (1992, March 1). PATRIARCHY AND THE POLITICS OF GENDER IN MODERNISING SOCIETIES: IRAN, PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN. https://doi.org/10.1177/026858092007001002

Kasturi, L. (1996, June 6). Development, Patriarchy, and Politics: Indian Women in the Political Process, 1947–1992. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198290230.003.0006

From Russia to America, the politics of patriarchy. https://www.ft.com/content/6d8a8446-05fb-415a-a95a-c4d3248d8573

Kollo, F. L., & Sunarso, S. (2018, January 1). Patriarchy Culture and Injustice for Women in Politics. https://doi.org/10.2991/acec-18.2018.25

Soedarwo, V. S. D. (2014, January 1). Political Ideology Meaning and Patriarchal Ideology of Female Politicians in Indonesia: A Case in Malang. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2014.03.061

Patriarchy. https://www.epw.in/tags/patriarchy

Merkle, O., & Wong, P. (2019, June 30). It Is All About Power: Corruption, Patriarchy and the Political Participation of Women. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-14935-2_20

Ghosh, A. (2021, July 27). Disciplinary power and practices of body politics: an evaluation of Dalit women in Bama’s Sangati and P. Sivakami’s The Grip of Change through Foucauldian discourse analysis. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00866-y

Soedarwo, V. S. D. (2014, January 1). Political Ideology Meaning and Patriarchal Ideology of Female Politicians in Indonesia: A Case in Malang. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2014.03.061

Strengthening Parliament. (1963). Representation, 3(10), 4–4. https://doi.org/10.1080/00344896308656437

Acknowledgment

The author would like to thank Nivedita Sinha for their kind comments and suggestions to improve the article.

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