Representation of Women in Political Sphere


Author: Shiksha Singh & Shania Ajith


The 21st century has inherited the unfinished agenda of a more vibrant form of globalising democracy. In many cases, due to the ongoing tendency of democratic nations to exclude or marginalise large sections of society, there is a feeling of unease about the achievement of representative democracy. This is particularly true of women around the globe. To be fully reflective and inclusive of democracy all people must have equal opportunities to engage in democratic processes. If these conditions are not present, the advantages of democracy would be significantly restricted for social and economic growth, as such true democracies can not allow for injustice or prejudice based on an outdated patriarchal mind set. 

This article will discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by India's women in their quest for political space and their ongoing struggle for an active role in India 's fate. It will explain the current state of women's participation in decision-making bodies and will improve the constitutional right of women to be active in politics. It will also stress the centrality of recognising this right in India to achieve true democratic governance and gender equality.

Women as Political Actors:

The involvement of women in the political field in India can be traced back to the 1920's to 1940s freedom movement for the development of a free and independent india. these women were an active part of the freedom struggle. The Indian Constitution embodies the spirit of the freedom movement and guarantees non-discrimination do all Indian women. The Indian Constitution supports opportunities for equal job and fair pay. Also supports the government to lead affirmative actions for women and young girls. 

The legislation has also gone so far as to renounce cultural practices that were usually detrimental to a woman's status like working towards more humane working work environments and to provide Maternity relief. Women's equal participation in politics and equality under the law is supported by Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution that forbids any discrimination on the grounds of caste, gender, religion or place of birth and guarantees adult franchise. 

Through much research, it is observed that it is impossible to understand the real social status of women's participation in politics without considering other factors. It is in fact interconnected with socio-economic conditions, political inequalities that are built into the social structure, its customs, values and norms. All these aspects put together will help us to understand women's real social status. Not only that, the status of women differ by various factors such as religion, caste, region, class, and also by tribal, urban and rural conditions. As it is easily observable in today's situation, a person's status plays a great role in their heartfelt participation in the development process of this country's politics. Due to this reason, women with their inferior status have become victims to the fundamentalism of tradition, culture and religion, that restricted them from actively participating in the developmental processes of this country.[1] 

For what reason are women missing from governmental issues Variables of Political Participation :

Proper political participation is the sign of a successful and modern democracy. It seems, by all accounts, to be an unpredictable marvel, a reliant variable that pivots upon numerous components, for example, the mental, financial and political, which give direction to people either decidedly or adversely. 

Psychological Environment 

In each society, there are people who are much concerned and intrigued by political issues and at the same time, there are people who don’t have any such concern and enthusiasm for political issues. This distinction might be because of the distinctions in their mental perspectives. In this circumstance it turns out to be certain that the previous are bound to be dynamic in legislative issues than the last mentioned. Again, it is for the most part accepted that males are mentally more required than ladies in governmental issues as in their particular arena of action .

•Socio-economic Environment 

Financial factors incorporate instruction, occupation, salary, age, station, religion, sex, family foundation, living arrangement and so forth. By and large, interest will in general be higher among better taught, individuals from higher word related and pay gatherings, moderately aged, prevailing ethnic and strict gatherings, individuals with political family foundation, settled inhabitants, urban occupants and individuals from deliberate affiliations. 

Political Environment 

The world of politics alludes to the idea of the gathering framework, the constituent framework, the methods for promulgation and mission, the degree of modernization and urbanization, the impact of belief system the overall attention to the individuals and so on. 

The affinity among Gender and Power: Masculinities and Politics :

Masculinities and political issues have a long and close affiliation. In general, male qualities have, from the beginning of time, have been favored to deal with governmental issues, especially in international politics. Viciousness, utilization of power and the use of violence have all been praised for the sake of safeguarding one's nation. This cliché picture of manliness doesn't fit most men. Connell recommends that what he calls ‘hegemonic masculinity,' a sort of socially prevailing manliness that he recognizes from other subjected masculinities, is a socially developed social ideal that, while it doesn't relate to the real character of most of men, supports male centric power and legitimizes a man centric political and social request.[2]

As it’s a widely accepted fact that in order to achieve developmental goals gender equality and women empowerment are the fundamental core for the realisation of human rights and a way to sustainable results. However, its commonly observed that women’s participation is restricted or made very challenging.

According to the UN General assembly resolution of women’s participation in the political sphere, women are a marginalised sector from the politics due to several reasons like gender roles, cultural discrimination etc.  

Internationally, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women upheld women’s right to participate in public life, the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) called for removing barriers to equal participation. The Millennium Development Goals 2000 [3]also took into account women’s representation in parliament have contributed to progress towards gender equality.

None of the above has helped India improve the scenario and India continues to be performing unsatisfactorily. However, since the early 1990’s, the 73rd and 74th amendments, which entail 33 per cent reservation for women in rural and urban local bodies, facilitated the entry of lakhs of women in the political arena. During the next two decades, there has been a dramatic change in women’s representation in local administration. India successfully passed the reservation bill or the 108th Amendment Bill, 2008. The  Bill seeks to ensure reservation of 33 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha as well as in state legislative Assemblies for women. It also seeks to reserve one-third of all seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for women belonging to those groups, in both Lok Sabha and State legislatures. 

This move was made by the Indian government and following are the steps [4] that can be taken to break the barriers of politics and make it inclusive of women as equally as men.   

1. Eliminating structural obstacles and monitor elections, including by recruiting women as party agents to be present at polling stations, particularly if those polling stations are allocated for women only.

2. Offering training programs for young people, women, and men on political systems, women’s right to participation, and roles in decision-making, as well as unconscious bias training and inclusion.

3. Securing equal visibility of female politicians and decision-makers, and promoting more inclusive representation of leadership.

4. Fostering leadership skills for girls and women and promote gender equality and supporting them in the workplace through greater inclusion in executive positions and on corporate boards.

5. Fund grassroots organizations that build the capacity of girls and women to participate both individually and collectively in social, economic, political, and public life.


Women’s full empowerment cannot be achieved until they are given the opportunity to contribute equally in all the spheres of the society including the political domain. While women continue to be excluded from leadership positions, issues concerning women will also continue to be neglected. The Constitution grants equal opportunity to women to participate in the political discourse, to contest elections, and to take up leadership positions in local, state or national level governments. The full and equal participation of women in politics is also essential to the achievement of gender equality in our society. The increase in women’s representation will lead to women’s issues being raised more often and it will bring meaningful change to the way elected bodies govern, particularly in the issues they prioritise.


1. MV, G. (2003). Chapter III. In Rural democracy and political participation in Keral: A case study of the role of women with special reference to Kottayam district (pp. 1-58). Kochi, Kerala: MG University