South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - The Representatives We Need: Missing Women in Indian Elected Assemblies

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

The inclusion of all sections of society in the public sphere is critically important for any democracy. For all its successes in giving representation to different social groups, India has a mixed track record when it comes to women’s participation and representation in politics. Women were given equal vote the day India became Independent, something that took the UK and the United States 100 and 144 years, respectively, to achieve. India has also produced several powerful and consequential women politicians — more than most democracies — who have held, and still hold power, at the highest levels in state and national politics. The 73rd constitutional amendment ensures, by reserving seats for women in the panchayat system, that at least a third of India’s 3.2 million elected representatives are women. Several states have since then introduced gender parity in representation in municipal bodies. But the presence of strong women politicians and a million women elected representatives at the local level, have not ensured adequate representation in the national and in state assemblies, where women make respectively 12 and 7 percent of the members. This paper explores the processes and mechanisms contributing to hold women representation at such low levels and seeks to understand who are the women contesting elections in India. The paper analyzes the profile of women' contesting for state elections in 2017 and 2018 in four states to assess whether women need to be elite than their male counterparts in order to contest and eventually win elections.  

Gilles Verniers

Ashoka University, India

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