Women in Power

There are only 11% women in India's Parliament and 9% on average in state Assemblies. But women make up nearly 50% of India's population. So who is representing their rights?

If at least half of India's MPs and MLAs were women, there would be more emphasis on issues that directly affect women and by extension the rest of society.

These would include issues like public toilets, women's safety, law and order, the plight of women farmers, working women and childcare, safe and comfortable public transport, better quality schools and public hospitals and much more.

Currently parties give only about 10-11% election tickets to women while men get around 90%! Because of this women can't even contest. This is despite the fact that over 10 lakh women have won elections and governed at the Panchayat and Corporation level.

With mostly male leaders, women hesitate to report their problems or their problems aren't taken seriously enough. Thanks to this, issues relevant to 50% of the population are ignored. India needs more women leaders.

Leaders of all India's political parties talk about women's empowerment. But all the talk is hollow unless there is women-led governance.

In the 2014 general elections, only 8% of the total tickets distributed went to women candidates. In the 2018 state elections across MP, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram less than 10% tickets, went to women.

Some argue that women have lower capacity than men to win elections. But 9 of the 12 women fielded by the BJP in 2017 won. That's a 75% success rate. The success rate for male candidates, in fact, was around 50% in 2017. In 2014, 167 of 507 women who stood for elections contested as independents. Women clearly want to contest but are discriminated against when party tickets are distributed.

The question of women's reservation in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies now hangs in the balance. No political party looks serious enough to pursue the matter. One can hope, not against hope that politicians will resort to cheap populism again as 2019 poll is round the corner.


Vol. 51, No.32, Feb 10 - 16, 2019