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An estimated 48.4 percent of India’s population of 140 crore is female and as per ECI figures of 2022 there are a total of 46.1 crore female voters. As per data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in India, women make up 14.44% of the 17th Lok Sabha. As per the latest available report of the Election Commission of India (ECI), women represent just10.5% of all Members of Parliament as of October 2021. Seats are yet not reserved for females and males, in Parliament. Another figures which stands out is that in the present Lok Sabha has only 78 Female members out of a total 542.Now their number is likely to go to 180 female members with 33% reservation  for women coming in with 128 th Constitutional amendment  which has  preconditions of population census and delimitation   meaning that actual reservation for  women in Lok Sabha will come only in 2029 elections, so much for the Women Reservation Act.

A factor which is overriding in the present scenario of intolerance and hate of all kinds based on differences in caste, ethnic, religion, creed, food habits or region is the targeting of every vulnerable target – the female gender. Women are continuously becoming easy and preferred targets of male dominated mobs whenever there is violence based on the above differences be it be supported or not supported by the state. The latest being the video graphed incident of parading naked of two vulnerable women out of which one later was gang raped in Manipur by one ethnic group trying to settle scores with another ethnic group with both groups having a history of hatred from decades. Now coming to getting justice for victims of this heinous crime and outrageous act from the male dominated polity at state and center the women have got no prompt justice from the male dominated state or the central governments till Supreme Court intervened and these victims have not been able to garner any worthwhile vocal support from their own gender present in the ruling cabinet and treasury benches in parliament.

Now coming to the present, we are clear about the very heavy gender bias and inequality which exists in the present political representation. Leave aside India, gender inequality exists in almost all kinds of societies the world over whether they are developed, developing or underdeveloped, the leading examples being USA, India and African or South Asian countries respectively. In fact, if we consider societies for the existence of gender inequality and where women have to fight for equality in all spheres of life then there is hardly any society which can be called developed in the real sense which respects the equality of gender.

So, we will focus on our India and Bharat as a case study. A case in point is here that women were struggling from the last 75 years since independence till 19 Sep 2023 to get their women reservation bill passed giving them 33% reservation in Parliament and legislative assemblies passed since 1999 despite the fact that they comprise almost 50% of the population.  This attitude of male dominated political power segment is actually an outcome of age old patriarchal and dominant male bias against women. This is a hard fact that the male dominated political parties are not going to or are not willing to give equal and deserving political power space to women. If that is the case then it is a very  logical outcome to demand or crave or fight for gender equality in the political power spectrum which is the real arena to make and implement policies which are required for any real upliftment of the historically ignored, isolated, crushed under male dominance and ever sacrificing female segment.

If that be so then presently there is  an apparent stalemate which doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the  male dominant political parties  because they don’t want to upset their respective supposed vote apple carts. As no solution seems in sight for an equal participation of women  in the power sharing syndrome and apparent controlled and doctored growth of the gender equality tree  then what is the way out for the political participation opportunity for enlightened women of India which claims itself to be “ Vishawguru” in every sphere of human development?

Another question arises why women should go with a begging bowl for asking reservation from the male dominated political system which controls the parliament and state legislatures when they are almost equal in voting strength and numbers?

 Isn’t it the time for women to have their own political power via a political party or two to come into power on their own steam by just asking all women voters that is all 50% of the women voters to vote en-block for their own welfare and progress to get a share in the political pie which will give them the key to the so far elusive promised land of gender equality.

Plus there will be fair percentage of male voters who will be willing to lend them a helping hand as voters, supporters, organisers, strategic think tanks, intellectual support base, in certain cases becoming the all women party candidates may be on same lines as of present where some percentage of  women are candidates  in the male dominated parties.  

Gone are the times when women can be appeased by giving them a minority share in governance like a post of Lok Sabha Speaker or few cabinet berths or making a woman as the country’s president. Women from different political parties have proved their mettle time and again that they can perform better or equally well if not better than any men when it comes to govern states as chief ministers. They have also proved that  they are capable academically and experienced enough to head and excel as  ministers holding important ministries independently at both center and state levels.

India has its distinction of having a first in women prime minister Mrs Indira Gandhi  who led the country brilliantly during Bangladesh crisis, won a war, created an independent country as well brought in legislations like nationalizing banks and many more which can be counted her pluses and a big minus of  the very forgettable emergency. She, as political analysts can argue, was also an outcome of the dynastic political system being daughter of an ex-prime minister.

So far the entire spectrum of political parties system has not treated or trained women as equal power sharing partners because the masculinity and patriarchal system existing in our society does not allow males to mentally give equal space to the female gender which is actually their due judicious  share as well as a right as per our constitution under Right to Equality.

The women politicians in present political system are generally wives, widows, daughters, daughter in laws, sisters or near relatives of known political leaders and no political party system has a training system which formally  trains them as political executives for the four tiers of governance i.e., panchayat, zila parishad, state legislatures, parliament. On the other hand no effort has been made by the successive governments at center and state level  to train future female political leaders or aspirants by opening institutes  to impart education, training and research facilities in public administration, public governance and duties and rights as applicable  for all four tiers of the governance. As far as males go it was thought they do not need any such training.

This no-training in public administration and governance  is an ongoing conspiracy on the quiet  because it has so far suited all  male dominated  main political parties which have alternatively held power at the central as well as at state level and other two levels of governance at parishad and village level.

In denying equal rights to women every male who is part of the political system of the day is to be blamed and apparently  conspired because in the male dominated world and culture they have quietly considered women inferior in intellect, not capable enough organisers, not cunning enough to do all the machiavellian shady dealings behind the shroud of political honesty, thought them not articulate enough to arouse people’s emotions by giving chest thumping and loud speeches, thought them to be too weak to last a dusty and hot summer election campaign, considered them guileless when it came to political sale of ideology for the sake of power, thought them incapable of shady dealing for election funding with corporate because all this has to be done in the world which is all male pervasive.

All cultural and social norms which wanted women to follow men, possibly stay at home, were used as the male dominance syndrome which had and wanted unbridled power over the women of the family especially so in the old joint family system in particular and society at large.

Another very important factor is the attitude of the male dominated segment of the permanent executive, that is the bureaucracy which does not want trained political bosses or  we will call them temporary executives as they come and go every five years whereas the bureaucracy lasts 35-40 years so that is why sobriquet permanent executive. So we can say this male dominated permanent executive needed an untrained and uneducated male political class to deal with as these were the very persons who were to evaluate their annual performance or confidential reports at the highest level. They wanted to perpetuate the male dominant political class so it will remain ever dependent on the aid and advice of bureaucracy.

So the net inference on the is issue is that when the whole bureaucratic system did not want even the male dominated political class to get educated on good governance it was but natural for women to get ignored which actually needed education and training in governance the most to become equal in knowledge and training to be equal partners in governance.

Now if we go a step further that women form a formidable political party and want to contest elections we are likely to be faced with searching questions like -Are Indian women more likely to vote for female candidates? As per Carnegie Endowment for Peace Foundation research -No. There is little evidence to suggest that women in India are more likely to vote for female candidates. Parties led by prominent women also do not fare better than other parties among female voters, though this may be changing. One study has found that providing additional security at polling booths brings out more women to vote—but the vote share for female candidates actually goes down as a result. One possible explanation is that many Indian women, like men, often have ingrained biases against female leadership.

But all the above is set to change in the new scenario but how?

At present why women participation is lacking because in the present political environment the women from powerful political families are allowed to operate unmolested because of inherent security via the political and muscle power these political families ensure for their immediate family female political aspirants.

Who else is getting to the top in the political hierarchy? A few are the ones who are mentored by powerful male politicians like Miss Uma Bharti was the protégé of Mr. Govind Acharya a RSS ideologue.

Some very small percentage of grassroots workers do get recognized because of their hard work, ground connection and capabilities like Miss Mamta Bannerji  is an example.

Others are the ones who have to appease various men holding key political posts as they move up the ladder of political hierarchy. Most of these are single or spinsters, divorced or widows.

Some are supported by husbands who do not themselves have the qualities to become political leaders while their wives have these in abundance. In this category we can also include the males who turn a blind eye to the exploitation of their better halves as they consider this is being the only route up the political ladder as they themselves are very weak morally or are very cunning to use their better halves for political power or in some cases the women themselves may be willing to get exploited for achieving political ambitions.

Now let’s take another dimension in view like the political work requires extensive travelling and leaving the house for night out stays which lead to extensive contact with males of the party while setting an environment of opportunity for the exploitation of the gullible or innocents or the willing ones.

So now having researched the present political environment in which the women have to be present and operate  what  is likely to change which will allow a father, brother or husband to send their females to participate in the political process as members of exclusive all women political parties .

Let’s take the example of  all women hostels, all women police stations, women colleges ,girls schools , women staff buses, women compartment of metros which are supposed to provide confidence and safety of the female gender in their respective all female environment  and was having confidence of the male members of the females who were going to these all women environments, similarly these political parties which  will have female members in overwhelming numbers will certainly encourage more fathers, brothers and husbands to let their family females participate in the political process which till date is not considered safe for women from  respectable backgrounds  and on the contrary  every second female participant is looked upon as an object to view  rather than a competing, capable, intelligent and respected member or colleague.

Let’s build this thesis further of women being deprived of their rightful share in the political process so far from another angle. Take the case of reservations provided by the constitution for scheduled castes and tribes because they were the deprived sections of society for centuries and now superimpose  the same argument in the case of women ( from all categories whether general caste  or scheduled caste category)  who have been denied equal opportunity since centuries but more so  the women have  been deprived of their rightful share in political governance in a similar manner since independence.

So women themselves have to organise, know their strength and be warned against that male chauvinistic political spectrum which will not like them to be independent and just keep them as part of nondescript mahila or women wings.  So choice lies with enlightened women of India.

So the road ahead is very difficult and unpaved, full of challenges from home and outside from male dominated political environment which does not want women to gain prominence other than for their ornamental presence.

The concluding opinion is that time has now come for women to come out from the margins to take center stage of the political arena by empowering themselves through political power by taking the route of an all women party/parties. Not far are the days when women as PINK POWER will be bringing a bill in the parliament to ensure 50% reservation for women leaving the present pending bill for 33% reservation in the dustbin of male dominated political governance history.

About the author:
Col. Jasjeet Singh Gill

Col. Jasjeet Singh Gill The writer, Col (retd) Jasjeet Singh Gill, took premature retirement from the Indian army in 2001. He was a founder member of the Aam Aadmi party in Punjab AS its media incharge. An environmentalist from the past two decades he left politics and was nominated as Member State Task Force of Buddha Darya Rejuvenation Project. He is an avid Sikh military historian, has keen interest in writing about people’s welfare and offers talks on radio, TV and YouTube channels on social and environmental issues besides being a member of the Public Action Committee of Punjab.

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