Though the number of women contesting in the Delhi elections has increased, there still are only 27 women among the 210 candidates. When will political parties wake up?
Like the rest of the country, you’ve probably been following the Legislative Elections that were held in Delhi on February 8, 2020. While there has been a substantial increase in the number of women contestants, it is still not enough.
Looking at a party-wise breakup of the candidature, it is observed that the Indian National Congress fielded candidates for 67 seats. Of these, only nine were for women. At the same time, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced ten women candidates for the 70 assembly constituencies. And the third party, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) fielded the least number of women – only eight women in all of the 67 seats!
A total of 958 candidates were accepted by the election commission and only 75 of these were women. This basically means 7.8% of women’s inclusion the elections. Is women’s participation and existence in politics still not seen as relevant?
Though the number of women contesting for the power positions in Delhi is significantly higher than the last time, a major change is still not visible. The situation has only slightly improved since 2015, when the last Delhi elections were held. In 2015, all the parties had fielded 66 women and this year, it is 75 women.
45% of the population of the national capital is women yet their representation in the cabinet is significantly less. And even after the current elections, it will still remain low.
One of the major reason for this disparity lies in the hands of the men in political parties. These men may preach women safety and equality, but cannot bring themselves to enhance women representation in the Legislature and the Parliament.
Several people believe that gender-based voting could also be the reason for the skewed ratio. However, news surveys suggest that no evidence of such gendered voting has been seen. The major bone of contention here is that how will women gain equal status if they don’t have the proper representation among the lawmakers?
The Delhi elections prove that it is necessary to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. This Bill was first introduced in 1996 to provide 33 percent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. However, it is yet to see the light of day due to the lack of consensus among most parties.
The Bill is a sincere concern aimed at increasing the participation of women in the law-making arena dominated by men. It also seeks to reserve one-third of the total number of seats for women from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Further, there are speculations that OBC will also be added to these criteria.
The Bill looks quite promising in its attempt to acknowledge internal complexities within women by recognising their respective deprivation points derived from caste inequalities. It would also ensure that their specific narratives, concerns and modes of operation are voiced in the public sphere. These issues often receive little to no attention.
Hence, the upcoming Delhi elections are a set back towards women representation. At the same time, they also ignite the debate about the urgency to pass the Women Reservation Bill which has been seeing dust in the Parliament since 2010.
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