National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) carried out by the government between 2019 and 2021 has found India now has 1,020 women for every 1,000 men. This means that India has more women than men in its population. However when we analyze the structures that govern our country and society. The participation of women in leadership roles seems considerably lower.
Corporate India only has 11% of women in leadership roles according to a survey by The Egon Zehnder Global Diversity Report 2020, Another report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), the state of representation of women in the country’s decision-making process shows only 9% women as MLAs and MPs across the country in 2019.
The huge gender disparity which fails to put women in leadership roles has become the roadblock towards gender empowerment.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is one of the ways that aims to increase women participation in leadership roles. The Bill aims to reserve 33.33 per cent seats in the Lok Sabha or the Lower House of Indian Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies for women, and the same percentage of seats for women in rural and urban local bodies respectively.
After a long battle, the Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Indian Parliament) on 9th March 2010 amidst stiff resistance from some political parties. It is now introduced in Lok Sabha or the House of the People.
If the bill is passed in the lower house it will be a revolutionary change into the structure of the Indian social system.
We will have women leaders impacting policy and decision making roles in all spheres of the government. The governance model with the inclusion of women in decision-making processes will also see a qualitative change in issues regarding women empowerment and inclusion.
The impact of women leadership has been studied by
the Researchers from the UN University in 4,265 State assembly constituencies over a period of two decades (1992-2012) reported their findings as follows :
1) Women legislators in India raise the economic performance in their constituencies by about 1.8 percentage points per year more than male legislators.
2) Women are more effective at completing road projects and hence creating infrastructure.
3) Women legislators are significantly less likely than men to be carrying criminal charges. They are also slightly younger on average.
4) Evidence suggests that women legislators are less likely than men to exploit their office for personal financial gain.
The study hence shows that the participation of women in leadership roles impacts the growth of the community overall.
India has taken more than 75 years trying to achieve equal gender representation in its political environment. It’s high time that women are given the political right to lead and assert their rights.