Women’s Political Participation in Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas of India: An Analysis of Women’s Empowerment through Political Reservations

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
T BALASUBRAHMANYAM, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Political participation of women and their engagement in electoral process is an important marker of the maturity and efficacy of democracy in any country but women representation in political arena has long been overlooked in the process of development. Women in India, after being marginalized for long are being granted statutory status in the local bodies’ leadership with the passage of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment and extended it to Scheduled Areas by PESA Act. Though, the constitution guarantees legal equality to woman but male dominated political spheres has thwarted the woman’s political participation. Political reservations for women can be a channel to address issues of women empowerment as many research evidences suggests that political reservations to woman at the local bodies, has not only enhanced the overall status of woman in terms of health and decision making choices but has also led to several potentially positive advances for women as well as for the local political system and administration. In this backdrop, the paper attempts to draw linkages from reservation at panchayat level to woman empowerment and advocacy for political reservation at the levels of parliament and state legislatures. This paper has three main objectives. The first objective is to assess the socio-cultural factors that affect the political participation of women. Second objective is to assess the impact of women's political participation at local bodies on to the development indicators. Last objective is to have a comparative analysis based on few studies done across on woman’s political participation in panchayats and scheduled areas. By this the entry of women into politics and decision-making structures can change the policies, vision and structure of institutions leading to an overall development of humankind in totality, as said by Anthropologist Marget Mead, every time you empower a woman you actually empower a man