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Women’s Representation in Politics 2024, Trend and Challenges

Context:

  • In 2024, India elected 74 female Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Lok Sabha, which is four less than in 2019. This is a decrease from the 14.4% representation in the 2019 elections. And 52 more than the number elected in the first elections in 1952.
  • The 18th Lok Sabha will consist of 74 women and 469 men, which translates to only 13.6% of total MPs being women. This percentage is significantly below the 33% that will be reserved for women following the upcoming delimitation exercise.
  • A total of 797 women candidates had contested the elections with the BJP fielding the maximum at 69 followed by the Congress at 41.
  • India’s performance in women’s parliamentary representation is lower than many other countries, with a global average of 27.6% women elected in 2023 across 52 countries.

Trend of Women’s Representation in Lok Sabha 2024

Historical Representation:

  • In 1952, women constituted only 41% of Lok Sabha members.
  • This figure slightly increased to over 6% in the elections a decade later but dipped below 4% in 1971, despite Indira Gandhi, India’s first female Prime Minister, being in power.
  • A gradual but inconsistent rise in female representation ensued, surpassing 10% in 2009 and reaching its highest at 14.36% in 2019.

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  • Current Representation: In the 2024 elections, 74 women were elected to Lok Sabha, representing 13.63% of its total membership, a decrease from the previous election.
  • International Comparison: India lags behind several other nations in female parliamentary representation: South Africa has 46%, the UK has 35%, and the US has 29%.

Political Party-wise Distribution of Women MP’s in 2024

Leading Parties:

  • Women MPs in 2024 hail from 14 different parties.
  • The BJP has the highest number with 31 female MPs, followed by Congress with 13, and TMC with 11.
  • Other notable contributions include SP (5), DMK (3), LJPRV (2), and JD(U) (2). Seven other parties have one female MP each.

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Proportional Representation:

  • TMC leads in proportion with 37.93% of its MPs being women.
  • Congress and BJP have 13.13% and 12.92% women MPs, respectively.

Characteristics of Women MPs in 2024

  • Out of the 74 elected women, 43 are first-time MPs.
  • This ratio of newcomers (59%) is higher than the overall new MP ratio of 52% in the House.
  • Women MPs have an average of 0.76 terms in the Lok Sabha.
  • Demographics: The average age of women MPs is 50 years, younger than the overall average age of 56.
    • They match their male counterparts in education, with 78% holding at least an undergraduate degree.

Candidates in 2024 Elections

  • Participation Rate: Of the total 8,360 candidates in the 2024 elections, about 10% were women, marking the first time this proportion has been reached. This participation rate has increased from just 3% in 1957.
  • Party-specific Candidate Rates: Approximately 16% of BJP’s candidates were women, compared to 13% for Congress, both of which exceed the overall average.

What are the Challenges?

  • Women’s Reservation Bill: Despite the recent passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which reserves one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, actual female participation as candidates and elected officials remains low.
  • Candidate Representation: Only 9.6% of all candidates in the 2024 elections were women, which is a slight increase from 9% in 2019.
  • Misogyny in Politics: Female candidates often face misogynistic remarks and challenges from their peers, which could deter participation.
  • Structural Barriers: The low number of female candidates is a significant barrier to increasing women’s representation in parliament.

International Comparison: Mexico’s Progress

  • Recent Election: Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as Mexico’s first female president in a recent election, symbolising significant progress.
  • Legislative Reforms: Mexico has implemented gender parity laws requiring equal representation of women in all government spheres.
  • Results: These reforms have led to gender parity in both houses of Parliament and significant female representation in major political offices.

Responsibility and Action

  • Need for Reform: India has seen success at increasing women’s political participation at the local level and now needs to focus on the state and national levels.
  • Role of Political Parties: Political parties play a crucial role in promoting gender-sensitive reforms and ensuring women have fair opportunities to participate and be elected.
  • Vigilance and Commitment Required: Continuous effort and vigilance are necessary to improve women’s representation in politics, as progress is not always linear and is never guaranteed.

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About the Author

I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!

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