Challenges for Women in Entering Legislature: A Case Study of the Indian Parliament

Dr. Suman Ojha Mishra

Women’s under-representation in legislature has been a matter of concern and several remedial measures such as Candidate Quota and Reserved Seats are in practice in several countries. There are three gateways namely: eligibility, selection and election which a candidate has to pass through to become a member of a legislative body. This study investigates the reasons for lower number of women in legislative bodies in India. The study focusses on the selection of women candidates by national parties in India in the last four general elections (1999 to 2014) for Lok sabha i.e. the lower House of parliament. Only a marginal increase was observed during the study period as women candidates were allotted 8% seats by national parties in 1999 general election which increased to 8.1%, 8.2% and 9.1% in 2004, 2009 and 2014 General elections respectively. The increase in the nomination of 1% women candidates by national parties in 20 years is almost negligible. Similarly, on an average about 10% of the total membership of the Rajya Sabha i.e. Upper House were women. Secondary data was used mainly in the study to reach the conclusions. It was also found that the success rate of women candidates in elections was relatively higher compared to their men counterparts despite many barriers at the pre-selection level. Therefore it appears that a major reason for women’s under-representation in legislative bodies is exclusionary practices of political parties in the pre-selection of women candidates.

Key words: parliament, women representation, political parties, reservation