As per the 73rd constitutional amendment (C.A) 1993, 33% of seals in local self government institutions are reserved for women & some states like Bihar led the progress with providing 50% reservation to women. However, as per ADR report, in the parliament where there is no reservation of women, only 13% women MPs are present. Thus, it is a contrasting picture.
Reservation of seats had positive impact :-
1. More women in decision making capacities like chairperson of Gram Panchayat, Zilla parishad. Recently, 21 year old women become the youngest Mayor in India (Arya Rajendran) who is from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
2. Voting turnout of women increased.
3. Women specific issues like menstrual hygiene, health of pregnant lady etc. are becoming central part of policies.
4. Women are being appointed as non elected office bearers too.
However reservation of seats had limited impact because :-
1. Panchayat Pati, as husbands of women are working as a proxy & enjoying all the powers.
2. The proportionate share of women in State assemblies & Parliament is still very low, like in Bihar (only 8%).
3. Voting share is still low compared to men.
4. The number of female candidates fielded by political parties is very low
5. Low exposure of women in local meetings like Gramsabha or Panchayat meeting.
6. In the campaigning too, more number of men are involved than women.
7. Within the political parties less number of women occupying any post.
What more needs to be done –
1. Need to replicate successful stories like –
- Chhavi Rajawat as sarpanch in Rajasthan, bringing clean water and solar power.
- Meena Behen, Gujarat, the first woman sarpanch from a village in Gujarat, in the district Vyara, heads an all Women Panchayat Board.
- Nauroti Devi, Rajasthan, bringing digital revolution.
2. Strict action against Panchayat Pati or proxy leaders.
Bringing awareness among the people to choose more women representatives.
In this direction, recommendations of 2nd ARC, Sumit Bose & Ayyar committee can be implemented like
- More incentives to the party promoting women candidate by Election Commission of India.
- Training women leaders and all women CEOs in Panchayat Bhavan.
- Organising competition between States, Districts & Panchayats.
However basic change can be occurred only when society at large changes only. Then we can fulfill the constitutional objectives of social, political justice & equality and strengthen Right to Equality (Article 14).