Daily Current Affairs – 8th March, 2016

Daily Current Affairs – 8th March, 2016

Women Empowerment: Time to deliver on Women’s Reservation Bill

Issue: Call for revival of the Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill to reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and the State legislatures.

Status: The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010

Change at a glacial pace— Number of women legislators in the current Lok Sabha is a mere 12 per cent, it has steadily increased through the years (it was 5 per cent in 1951)

Real stumbling block to the Bill: The existing patriarchal mind-set within the very same parties that have affirmed support to it (Congress & BJP; uniformly and strongly chauvinistic)


A country where ancient scripture placed women on a high pedestal

Gender Development Index: 132ndrank

Gender Equality Index: 127th rank

Suffers from one of the lowest sex ratios (940 in 2011) in South Asia

Gender ratio on the electoral rolls: 800 (almost)


The obstacles to political empowerment are mainly in three areas

  1. Registration as voter,
  2. Actual participation in voting,
  3. Contesting as candidate

Coupled with—Over-arching gender prejudice in their respective parties


Reasons why female voter turnout is lower

  • Concern for personal security
  • Dependence on the approval of family elders, especially men
  • Lack of adequate toilet facilities

Addressed—To motivate women to come out and vote, local women icons, Sharada Sinha, in Bihar, and Malini Awasthy in UP, became the face and voice of the voter education campaign proving the fate of election to be a game changer

Female voters at 54.85 per cent outnumbered male voters at 50.77 per cent in Bihar (2010), and 60.28 and 58.68 per cent in UP (2012), with similar results subsequently in all other states

General elections of 2014-

  • Women’s turnout shot up from 55.82 to 65.63 per cent — a jump of nearly 20 per cent
  • 16 states- Outnumbered their male counterparts
  • Gender gap- Used to be higher than 10 per cent, came down to an all-time low of 1.46 per cent


Participation of women as candidates

India is way behind more backward countries of South Asia; even conservative Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have higher female representation

Breakthrough: The enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1992

2009: The Union cabinet approved an increase in reservation for women from 33 to 50 per cent in Panchayati raj institutions

Bill for women’s reservation in legislatures: Been pending in Parliament

Patriarchal mind-set that plays foul:

  • Of the opinion that it’s difficult for women politicians to win
  • 2014: Women were 7.9 per cent of total candidates, but 11.6 per cent of elected MPs
  • Since 1957: Women’s “strike rate” has always been 50 to 350 per cent higher; demonstrating that women’s ability to win is greater.


Testimonies to Affirmative Actions

1917:Sarojini Naidu had joined a delegation of women to meet the viceroy to demand suffrage for women

1919: Madras became the first province to take the revolutionary step of allowing women’s franchise

1927: A 41-year-old medical doctor, Muthulakshmi Reddy, had become the first Indian woman to become a member of the legislative council in Madras

Post-independence: Equal voting rights to men and women (US took 144 years and the UK 100 years)

Today: The Lok Sabha speaker and chief ministers of four states are women

“There will never be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” – American social reformer Susan Anthony


At the local level—Architects of change and empowerment at the grassroots

Women’s political participation is increasing not only numerically but qualitatively as well and has thrown up some real-life political heroines

Stories— From stagnation to Change(Source: The Better India)

  1. ShushmaBhadu, 35 (Rural Haryana)

Elected in 2010 as the sarpanch of the DhaniMiyan Gram Panchayat in Fatehabad district

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