Article title: Women’s Participation in Electoral Politics in India
From South Asia Research
Women’s active participation in electoral competitions is a valid indicator of the efficacious growth of democracy in any country of the world today. As an indicator of equality and freedom, it cuts across genders in sharing political power and providing liberty and space to women within the democratic framework of electoral politics. Within a brief historical context identifying the beginnings of women’s electoral participation in India, this article presents a time series analysis of women’s voting patterns.
The democratic upsurge that started in India is likely to continue and despite some limitations of the electoral process, ‘people have succeeded in instituting their own democratic meaning in this process’. The increased participation of women in formal politics reveals a process of feminisation of Indian politics with positive, people-driven developments that augur well for Indian women and for India.
The recent participation levels of women in formal politics in India reveal two positives that augur well. First, the upsurge among women voters that started in the 1990s reached the highest female turnout ever, so far, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Second, women’s participation in high-voltage election campaigns during the 2014 general elections also showed a substantial increase. However, the continued under-representation of women in legislative bodies and within the rank and file of political parties offsets the momentous gains made in the people-driven feminisation of electoral politics in India. Within a brief historical context identifying the beginnings of women’s electoral participation in India, the article presents a time series analysis of women’s voting patterns, showing that there have never been concerted efforts by political parties to mobilise female voters on any issue concerning women in either national or state level elections. Promises by political parties in their manifestos on gender issues remain clichéd and are conveniently forgotten after the hustings. India’s failure to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill is presented as the most telling testimony about lack of seriousness among political parties in taking better account of women’s increasing electoral participation.
Women’s Participation in Electoral Politics in India
From South Asia Research