Women’s participation in mainstream political activity has important implications for the broader arena of governance in any country. Governance relates to a set of rules, institutions, and values that are involved in the management of state and society. Governance institutions and processes include political parties, parliaments, government and their interactions with society.
Although governance is a generic term which could mean good government or management, the governance values, types of government, the nature of political processes, the political parties and organizations, which/whose interests are represented and protected, and the extent of power that the masses have to challenge the state or in suggesting alternatives in methods of governance etc.
may vary in different political systems. Liberal democracy is founded on reason, law, and freedom of choice but the position of different social groups in the social and political space where power is located is not always equal in practice.
This is particularly so in the case of women. The nature of society or state has a decisive impact on the extent and effectiveness of women’s political presence and participation.
Notions of democracy, governance and the state are often not gender neutral constructs but result from both historical factors and experiences. The state and its organizational entities reflect the same social forces as other social organizations. It is thus necessary to examine the gender balance in women’s participation in the political process, decision making and policy formulation.
The limited nature of female participation and representation in national decision making institutions has important consequences for women and for the legitimacy of the institutions.
Where women constitute half the population in a political system which supports equality and where both women and men are legally eligible for political office, women’s participation should be equal to that of men. If this is not the case, it signifies deep flaws within the political system. Representation is not only a means of ensuring individual participation.
It is also the responsibility of the representatives to act on behalf of the constituents, including women, who elected them and reflect their ideas and aspirations. Women’s disproportionate absence from the political process would mean that the concerns of half the population cannot be sufficiently attended to or acted ? Rtd Principal, Daulat Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, Delhi University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 2 Human Rights, Gender & Environment pon as it denies their viewpoints sufficient opportunity to be integrated in the political system. While the Indian democratic state is committed to the protection of individual rights within the context of citizenship, a closer look at how it operates for the women reveals that these rights are not accessible in the public and private spheres in their full potential to all the women in India. There are historical, social and cultural factors that have limited women’s capacity and chances to exercise their freedom to participate in the political processes.
The evolution of Indian democracy through the 14 general elections so far has reflected a low representation of women in Parliament, State legislatures, in political parties and other decision-making bodies. The under representation of women in the political sphere is inextricably linked with the low and inferior status of women in society in India especially in the context of the declining sex ratio (Table 1), increasing violence and crimes against women and their marginalized status in employment, education and health sectors. (Human Development in South Asia:2000).
The comparative position of gender-related development index (GDI) reveals that among 177 countries, India ranks 113th, indicating its very low gender-equity status as evident from the Table below: Table : Comparative Position of Gender-related Development Index of Selected Countries Adult literacy rate (%age 15 & above) 2004 g enrolment ratio for primary, secondary & tertiary.
Although the gap between male and female literacy rates has been narrowing, there is still very large disparity in this regard. While male literacy rate in India is 75. 3 per cent, female literacy rate is only 53. 7 per cent. It is even worse among Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Among, the SC 50 per cent males are literate, while only 24 per cent females can read and write and among ST, 41 per cent males and only 18 per cent females are literate. An average Indian woman has little control over her own fertility and reproductive health.
More women are illiterates compared to men and more women drop out of school. There are fewer women in the paid workforce than men. Women’s work is undervalued and unrecognized. Women work longer hours than men and carry the major share of household and community work which is unpaid and invisible. Women and men earn unequal wages. Women are legally discriminated against in land and property rights. Women face violence inside and outside the family throughout their lives. Most women in India have very little say in decisions affecting their own lives.
The cumulative effect of all this is that women tend to lack the self-confidence and skills needed to function effectively in the public sphere. (Sen, Kalyani Menon &. Shiva Kumar A. K: 2001). The under representation of women and absence of women from positions of power and decision-making reinforces their exploitation and deprivation. It is in this context that women’s greater political representation becomes all the more necessary. Political Participation and Representation of women in India Women in India raised the issue of representation in politics first in 1917.
At that time it was basically a demand for universal adult franchise and political participation. By 1930 women had gained the Right to vote, which initially benefited women from elite families. Women’s involvement in struggles for political and civil rights in India were however sought to be linked to nationalist movements in alliance with males against the common foreign enemy. In any case women’s involvement in nationalist struggles changed their lives in that even though they were denied equal opportunities to shape the new state, they gained constitutional and legal rights.
But even after the right to vote became a reality for all women, their representation in the parliament, political parties and other decision making bodies remained low even after independence, and after the Indian Constitution came into force in 1950. (Susheela Kaushik:1993:1996,Veena Mazumdar:1993). A few women no doubt attained University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 4 Human Rights, Gender & Environment positions as members of parliament and state legislatures and as leaders of opposition, etc. mostly through family dynasties or through male political patronage.
However, the percentage of women in legislatures and decision making positions always remained low. Women do not share the power of decision- making and are not involved in policy making in Indian democracy in proportion to their numerical strength. Thus there is a gap between the formal idea of women’s participation and their meaningful use of power. (Susheela Kaushik:1993). The quest for greater political representation of women is, therefore, still relevant. (Asha Kapur Mehta et al:2001) Women in India have lesser opportunities of public influence or for entering politics.
Women also lack opportunities to move within the hierarchies without patronage of male leaders or mentors. The women’s wings of political parties may have given visibility to women in the form of a platform for participation rather than integrating them into central power structures. Women do not have necessary resources to enter and compete in contemporary political arena. Thus improved social indicators in development graphs may not automatically ease women’s access to political power or improve political participation and representation. They do not necessarily translate into collective gains nor sustained political power.
Of course the scope for women’s public activism varies across class, caste and region in India. The effectiveness of women’s participation also depends on the local configuration of power and cultural environment apart from problems of poverty, illiteracy, lack of economic resources, negative social and legal environments, family and household pressures, male dominated bureaucracy and politicians that the women face. The case for women’s wider participation and representation Women in India constitute nearly half the population of the country (Table 1), but they are poorly represented in the various governance and decision making bodies.
The position depicted through the 14 general elections so far reflects a low representation of women in Parliament, State legislatures, in political parties and other decision-making bodies. Less than 8% of Parliamentary seats, less than 6% Cabinet positions, less than 4% of seats in High Courts and the Supreme Court, have been occupied by women. Less than 3% of the administrators and managers are women. The average percentage of women’s representation in the Parliament, Assemblies and Council of Ministers taken together has been around 10%. UNIFEM:2000).
The Indian Constitution guarantees to all women the fundamental right to equality (Article 14) and equal voting rights and political participation to both men and women. As reflected in the Preamble, the Indian Constitution is firmly grounded in the principles of liberty, fraternity, equality and justice and contains a number of provisions for the empowerment of women. Women’s right to equality and nondiscrimination are defined as justiciable fundamental rights (Article 15) and there University of Delhi BA Programme II
Foundation Course 5 Human Rights, Gender & Environment is enough room for affirmative action programmes for women. Equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State is a fundamental right (Article 16). The Directive Principles of State Policy stress on the right to an adequate means of livelihood for both men and women equally (Article 39a), equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39d), provision for just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 39e).
Directives for promoting harmony and renouncing practices derogatory to the dignity of women are also provided for in the Indian Constitution. The political rights of women are recognized without any discrimination, or distinction and they have the right to participate in decision making at all levels equally with men. The right to constitutional equality has been supplemented by legal equality by the passage of a number of Acts through which the traditional inequalities in respect of marriage, divorce and property rights are sought to be eliminated.
However, in spite of these constitutional and legal provisions, the ground reality is that women have not obtained adequate and proportionate representation in the legislative and other decision-making bodies. There is certainly a need for women’s more effective role in decision-making processes for the democratic and constitutional assurances of equal citizenship and rights in the Indian Constitution to become a reality at the operational level. Citizenship is linked to political participation and representation.
Lack of ability and opportunity to participate in the political system implies a lack of full membership in the system. For true equality to become a reality for women, the sharing of power on equal terms with men is essential. But the reality is that women continue to be marginally represented even in areas where the various policies have a direct impact on them. There is still a great gap between constitutional guarantees and the actual representation of women in the political system in India Political Mobilization and Participation
Historically many women have been active in the informal political sphere in terms of political mobilization and they have participated in large numbers in political demonstrations and mass agitations as well as in the activities of nationalist and political bodies and organizations. The political mobilization and participation of women has been impressive in the Indian National Movement, in revolutionary Left movements, anti-price rise stirs, on legislation on rape, against the practice of widow immolation, in the anti-liquor movements and movements against deforestation etc.
During the National Movement against colonialism women were mobilized actively particularly under Gandhi’s leadership and women’s organizations within the political parties participated actively in the cause against colonialism for instance in the Civil Disobedience Movements and Salt Satyagraha etc. But once freedom was won, the women’s wings were more or less marginalized and assigned areas that primarily dealt with women and children or other ‘welfare’ activities and women’s organizations ended up playing University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 6
Human Rights, Gender & Environment a secondary and supportive role to the male leadership in power. The leaders of such organizations were seldom women with independent political careers unless they were from political families with the backing of male political activists. It is worth noting that the political mobilization of women and their participation in elections has steadily increased since the first General Elections of 1952. (Table 2, 3, 4 & 5). Between 1952 –1980 for instance, women’s participation increased by 12% against the turnout of men which increased by only 6%.
In the general elections of 2004, the all India percentage of women voter turnout was 48%. As regards women voters’ turnout, from 37. 1 per cent in the first general elections in 1952 it increased gradually over the years to 55. 6 by 1999. Notably, the gap between female and male voters was 15. 9 per cent in 1952, but it decreased slowly over successive elections and came down to 8. 4 per cent in 1996 (Table 3). It has remained at 8. 3 per cent in 2004 general elections. (Deshpande: 2004) This percentage increase in the turnout of women in elections has however not ranslated into a larger number of women being represented in the legislative bodies. Competitive elections and democracy has not necessarily led to better political representation of women in Indian politics. The candidates fielded by the various political parties are still predominantly male and women account for only five to ten percent of all candidates across parties and regions.
As reflected in Table 6, the percentage of representation of women in the Lok Sabha varies from 4. 4 in 1952 to 8. 1 in 1984, declining to 5. 2 in 1989, rising to 7. 9 in 1998 and 9. 2 in 1999 and again declining to 8. 1 in 2004. In Rajya Sabha, proportion of female members started with 7. 3 per cent in 1952 and rose to 15. 5 per cent in 1991, but again declined to 6 per cent in 1998 and rose to 10. 3 per cent in 2005, again slightly declining to 9. 9 per cent in 2006. (Table 7). On the whole the representation of women in Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and the State Assemblies remains low. (Tables 8, 9 & 10). Thus despite the increase in electoral participation of women, their representation in the formal political structures has not changed much. Table 11) Though voting is an important indicator of political participation and mobilization, it is not necessarily indicative of representation. Voting is a tool of political equality and it mobilizes women but voting by itself does not result in the desired end of equality. Almost all parties vie with each other in appealing to women’s votes at the time of elections but very few women get to contest in the elections. Almost all parties hesitate to field women candidates.
Hence the number of women candidates fielded by various political parties has always been very low as compared to their numbers in the population. Table 12) Though a large number of women participate in voting, their low numbers in decision making bodies including those of political parties in India is notable. (Table 14) Among women who manage to rise in the political echelons, in spite of their ability in administration and the art of political articulation, very few women reach the level of cabinet ministers. Mostly they remain deputy ministers or ministers of state. When women reach the few ministerial positions, they are generally assigned University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course Human Rights, Gender & Environment portfolios in the social service sectors of Health, Education, Social Welfare, Women and Child Development etc. (Human Development in South Asia:2000) Representation By the 1980s, issues raised by the women’s movements in India led to political parties realizing the importance of female voters and women’s wings became active. Mainstream political parties became conscious of women as a constituency and this was reflected in their election manifestoes and their considering women as candidates with potential votes.
By the ninth Lok Sabha elections in 1989, one could find a conscious focus on women’s issues in the manifestoes of political parties. However, this did not translate into more seats for women in the political bodies and most parties resorted to tokenism and symbolism when it came to representation of women. Women issues were not taken up by parties in a serious manner nor translated into programmes, policies and legislation nor were they mandated specifically to address issues of women. Almost all political parties set up a women’s cell or wing but they worked as ancillary bodies. Very few women were able to capture seats of power.
The number of women in the legislatures remained very small. Very few women reached the position of party president or leader of legislative party. (Ranjana Kumari:1994). More recently major political parties have indeed made a conscious effort to induct more women into the various levels of the party organization. The CPM has made an effort to induct more women into its district committees and state level bodies. The membership of women in the party however remains below 10%. But the membership of women in mass organizations as the Kisan Sabha and the CITU has shown an improvement.
The CPM changed its stance on gender-based reservation only after 1988. The BJP had the highest percentage of women in decision-making bodies from the Parliamentary Board and the Election Committee down to the ward level. (Rita Manchanda:1998). Traditionally, the Congress Party has fielded the largest number of women candidates and has had the largest number of women members in Parliament though the Congress working Committee has a rather low level of representation of women. In spite of the efforts of political parties to induct more women, the extent of representation of women has not changed much.
The number of women candidates in the 1998 parliamentary elections was not even half the number of women in the 1996 elections. In 1998 there were only 274 women candidates as against 599 in the 1996 elections. In the general elections in 1999, the same proportion of women were put up for elections by both the parties favoring the 84th Amendment Bill on the reservation for women in Parliament and the parties which were opposed to it. (Rita Manchanda:1998). The Congress Party led by a woman had only 10% of women among the candidates. The BJP and the CPM had 7% of women among the candidates. Jayati Ghosh:1999). The idea of 33% reservation for women in parliament was actively endorsed by most of the major University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 8 Human Rights, Gender & Environment political parties and this had raised expectation that many more women would be nominated to contest the elections. The election manifestoes and the public pronouncements of parties as well as the print and electronic media highlighted the idea of women’s representation by reservation or by nomination of more women for elections signifying a more conscious political stand on women’s representation.
However, these stances did not translate actually into more nomination of women candidates during elections. Many parties ended up allotting some seats to women candidates only as a token and to symbolize their pro women egalitarian policy. (Table 12) In the inner party structures in the decision-making levels and the posts within the party, women are even less represented in most political parties. Women have a very low representation if at all in the actual decision-making bodies and rarely influence the more significant party policies (Table 14).
Most often they are relegated to the ‘women’s wing’ of the party where they are required to deal with what are considered to be “women’s issues’ such as dowry and rape cases and sometimes on more general concerns like price rise which are considered to affect ‘housewives’. Issues like child and family welfare are largely seen as women issues, and falling in a realm which is not political. By and large a masculine view of political priorities is in operation.
Most of the women’s wings of political parties have very little power and have hardly any say in the decision making and important policy matters. Political parties assert that it is difficult to get sufficiently qualified women candidates. Other arguments have also been advanced. It has been held that women are not independent voters; a majority of them are illiterate; a majority of them make their choice on the basis of suggestions from male members of their families-husbands or sons; women lack information and political awareness or that women are not politically conscious.
On the other hand, in reality women have been active and vocal both in times of peace and crisis. They have been active in movements of peace, women and child welfare, trade unionism, food adulteration, price rise and deforestation and many other issues. Power rather than Representation The real reason for the low political representation of women in the formal political structures and decision making levels, seems to lie in the compulsions of competitive elections and the quest for power by the political parties in a multiparty democracy.
Increasingly the compulsions of the political parties due to narrow majorities, precarious coalitions and hung parliaments have made the question of power rather than that of representation the determining factor. Women’s issues and women’s participation and representation are encouraged only within the parameters of power and are constrained by the basic objectives and interest of the parties either to capture power or survival, if in power. While women are mobilized to vote by all the parties, at the stage of distributing tickets University of Delhi
BA Programme II Foundation Course 9 Human Rights, Gender & Environment for standing for elections, the number of women drops dramatically. At this stage, political parties are driven more by power considerations with an eye on the ‘winnability’ of the candidates from the angle of the prospect of government formation. Women lose out at this stage as the imperative of ‘winnability’ seems to compel political parties to deny tickets to women unless they are sure to win. Women are considered to have less chances of winning, which is not necessarily true.
In the 1996 elections, Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of women candidates contesting the elections: 55 for 85 seats. In Rajasthan 17 women contested in 25 constituencies. Orissa had 10 for 21 constituences and in West Bengal, 21 women contested in 42 constituencies. However Kerala with better social indicators including female literacy had only 4 women contesting. A total of 599 women contested the elections. With all this women constituted only 3. 4% of the total number of contestants. In 1998 there were only 274 women candidates out of a total of 4750 candidates contesting the elections.
In 1999, out of 284 women who contested, 49 won, the success rate being 17. 3% and for men it was 11. 3 %. Women therefore had a better percentage of winning. In the General Elections of 2004, out of 355 women who contested from the main Political Parties, 44 won, the success rate being 12. 4 % whereas men’s success rate was 9. 8 %. (Table 5). It is interesting to note that though the number of women representatives in Parliament has not been very impressive their success rate in terms of percentage of contestants getting elected had always been igher than that of the male contestants. Women of Power and Women in power in Indian Politics In spite of the low political representation of women in Indian politics, it must be noted that some women leaders have an important place in Indian politics today. Jayalalithaa as leader of AIADMK, Mamata Bannerji as leader of Trinamul Congress and Mayawati as leader of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are instances in point. Some of them head important and strong regional political parties which have been in alliance with major national political parties both outside and in national government.
Even though the rise of some of these women leaders might be linked to their proximity to male leaders, they now hold a position of leadership within the party in their own right who can influence the decisions of their own party as well as the course of national politics. In addition, the example of Indira Gandhi who rose to be Prime Minister of India, and later of Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party, both of whom had the dynastic advantage underpinning their leadership and position of power and decision-making in the Congress Party and the government can hardly be ignored.
But the positions of authority of these women leaders did not include any specific mandate to address only women issues. In this sense as leaders of political parties, they were as power driven as their male peers. Political leadership by women is not University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 10 Human Rights, Gender & Environment dramatically different from that of men. Women leaders are no better or worse than men. Nor have women leaders been typically anxious to give greater representation to other women within their own organizations or in the political process generally.
Representation of women has not necessarily increased greatly under the leadership of women. In fact interestingly the 73rd Constitutional amendment and the policy and implementation of 33% reservation for women in Panchayats received strong support and impetus due to Rajiv Gandhi’s interest and advocacy in the matter. Thus the Indian political system cannot be said to be non-receptive to the emergence and dominance of women leaders even though the political representation of women has not particularly registered a significant increase over the last 14 general elections.
While on the one hand most women politicians have found it difficult to rise within male dominated party hierarchies, on the other hand some women have managed to become leaders when they have set up parties of their own. Once they have established themselves as leaders, there has been an unquestioning acceptance of their leadership and decisions by the party rank and file, even if it is largely male. Women in parliament or legislatures do not necessarily confine themselves to women issues only.
In the absence of a specific mandate for representing women issues, most of them feel that they represent both men and women of their constituencies. Like men they are drawn into the game of power with all its ruthlessness even though women’s approach to politics may not be identical to that of men. In fact even the women’s wings or organizations of parties are not necessarily marked by kind of feminist perspective or sensitivity.
Also, the patriarchal articulations whether by male politicians and leaders or internalized by women candidates in presenting themselves as ‘bahus’ and ‘betis’ relying on traditional patriarchal notions of femininity are not absent in Indian politics. Many times women public figures do adapt to and adopt male priorities predominating in public life in order to be acceptable. Many women internalize the norms and roles of patriarchal political structures and merely replicate them instead of questioning them, resulting in reinforcing existing hierarchies of power.
Questions have been raised as to whether an increase in numerical strength of women in the political process and decision making bodies automatically leads to a qualitative shift in power and whether women on balance pay greater attention to the concerns of women more than male politicians. Problems of tokenism, visibility, marginality etc. are often discussed in referring to women as a ‘minority’ operating in a male domain. Women’s rights and responsibilities to participate equally in political life should not however be treated as a ‘minority’ issue.
The political space must belong to all citizens – women and men. There is no doubt that fewer the women in public life the lesser the likelihood of distinctively female values, priorities and characteristics finding expression. Hence women’s involvement in political University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 11 Human Rights, Gender & Environment process and decision-making in greater numbers can make a significant difference. Does that mean that only people similar to a group can represent its interests? This may not necessarily be true.
In this context it is important to examine what interests women in the public/political sphere are furthering. It could be argued that issues important to women could be reasonably represented as well by male Members of Parliament. But many strongly feel that without a sufficient female presence in the national and other decision making bodies, it seems unlikely that issues which women as a group are more prone to be faced with – concerning reproduction or challenging other inequalities within the social and economic sphere – would be adequately addressed.
While it is considered important to bring women to positions of power, it is equally necessary to sensitize those in power whether men or women about gender. Along with this the importance of women’s economic independence, education and awareness and their improvement in the socio economic sphere can hardly be stressed. The restructuring of gender relations within both the family and society is an equally important step towards freedom, equality and justice. Representation through Reservation Various strategies have been proposed to further the political representation of women in India.
From a reservation of 33% seats at various levels including the Parliament, it has also been suggested that political parties reserve 33% of their seats for women in the elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party recently announced such a reservation in its organization. However, it has been questioned whether women constitute an undifferentiated category and whether collective identification and mobilization of women as a ‘disadvantaged’ group in general on the basis of gender is a viable proposition in the politically accepted sense of the term particularly in view of caste and class differences among them.
Mere presence of women in Parliament even if greater in numbers will not mean much unless they are truly representative of women’s concerns covering all categories. In the ongoing debate about reservation of seats for women in the Parliament it has been pointed out that an undifferentiated reservation for women will reinforce the existing inequalities in women’s access to positions of power. It is the elite and politicized families from which there is a smooth entry for women in politics.
Women playing supportive roles to males in the family and emerging from their shadows have also found easy entry. Another trend has been the entry of widows of prominent political figures into politics and positions of power. On the whole the important factors for women’s active presence in politics in India as trends show are in general: family background, political influence, family financial position, existing involvement in politics, literacy, local conditions, campaign strategy, influence within the party and personality traits etc. rather than only competence, capability and merit.
The combined result of all these factors is that very few women manage to get or are given party tickets. If the factors of University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 12 Human Rights, Gender & Environment economic dependence, prohibitive election costs, threats of violence and character assassination are added, even fewer can get seats in the legislature. In any case, it is argued by those in favour of reservation, there is no doubt that democracy and representation will be strengthened with compulsorily more presence of women through reservation.
This is evident from the impact of the implementation of 33% reservation of seats for women in the local bodies (panchayats) in India by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment as a result of which the representation of women in the formal structures of governance at the local level has recorded a steady increase. (Table 13). Women’s presence at the decision making levels will not only enhance the status of women but will also strengthen democratic traditions and make democracy more meaningful in fighting injustice and oppression while at the same time help to bring a different, explicitly female perspective to the political arena.
Unless women are brought into the decision-making levels directly, important women issues will never be tackled with the seriousness they require. In addition, democracy demands the regard for not only the interests of those who support in elections but also the aspirations of those who expect to be represented. The recognition of the right of every citizen to participate in public decisions is a basic element of democracy, which, to be effective, requires that the needs and interests of all members of the society are respected and represented.
Even if others might claim to represent them, there is no guarantee of justice and equity if one half of the population is consistently excluded from taking part fully in decision making as is the case with women in Indian politics and governance. There is therefore need for more inclusive processes of achieving representation. The value of inclusion of women in governance and decision-making institutions lies in the diversity of experiences women will bring to governance whether there are ‘female’ concerns or not.
Comprehensive representation would be obtained if women constituting half the population find a proportionate number of seats in government. Conclusion It is important to stress that like the equal right to vote, participation and representation in legislative bodies may not in itself be enough for women’s political empowerment or to remedy the problems of discrimination faced by women in Indian society. Equality with equity is a goal which may not easily be achieved only by high representation of women in legislatures and other public bodies but has to be buttressed by other supportive measures.
Even so, the demand for reservation of seats for women in political bodies to rectify the imbalance has gained strength in India in the light of persisting gender gaps in the various spheres of development. In the absence of any serious political selfcorrection so far, the demand for reservation of seats in legislatures and party structures has been stressed in India aiming at such an equitable representation. University of Delhi BA Programme II Foundation Course 13 Human Rights, Gender & Environment
While the steady increase in the electoral participation and mobilization of women in India has increased the visibility of women in the legislative politics this has not happened in the exercise of executive and judicial power due to their lack of presence in the decision making structures. From this perspective, the important question is what are the benefits of democracy for women.. Electoral participation and quotas through affirmative action alone are not enough to result in gender equity.