The title of this article asks about ‘do we need more women in the parliament?’ rather than this, the question which arises is ‘why we have such a less number of women in the parliament?’. Historically women have played a significant role in the growth and development of India. They have an important position in both legislation and government. Their role in the parliament is not less known. They have taken many decisions regarding empowering the women in the nation, regarding national and international affairs. But the ironical part is, on one hand, women inside the parliament are raising their voices to provide equality to women in every field, and on the other hand, women inside the parliament are not getting the equal rights. According to Inter-Parliamentary Union, in 2019, India ranked 148th in the world, with only 62 women MPs in the Lower House, based on the 2014 elections. In the 17th Lok Sabha, the number saw a significant increase to 78, which still is a mere 14.31 per cent of the total strength of the present Lok Sabha.[1]

So still the question remains the same, why do we have such a less number of women in the parliament? Sasmit Patra, spokesman for the Biju Janata Dal party once said, “There is a myth that women candidates will lose and that is not true.” And exactly this is one of the reasons why we do have less number of women in the parliament. The stereotypes of women being considered as a weaker link of society are still something that is believed.  In 2017, Former MEP of Poland, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, put up a misogynistic statement by stating that, “Women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less.” This was a statement made by a minister of a nation. What could be the status of women in such a nation where the leaders have so low level of thinking. And this isn’t the only incident that happened to disgrace the capabilities of women. They lack the trust and believe of society, women with power are always considered to be less powerful than men. After so many years of women proving themselves in every field, they are still considered below men.

Yes, we do need more women in parliament. Being a male-dominated society, yes, we do need more women in the parliament. Firstly, for the purpose of equality and secondly, we do need them to break the stereotypes and rule the nation peacefully again. Other than that many a times while watching the debates of the parliament we came across some disrespectful statements made by the male members to the female ones and this needs to stop. In 2019, Azam Khan of Samajwadi party makes a misappropriate statement to Rama Devi of BJP, to which BJP member Smriti Irani with her boldness replied him back saying behaviour like this will not be accepted in the parliament. We need more women like Smriti Irani, Mahua Moitra, Sushma Swaraj, Shelia Dikshit, Jayalalitha, in our nation to set a fair example of how bold, intelligent, responsible and successful members and ministers women could be.

There are many examples in past of how women have contributed to the development of India. In 1926, Dr Muthu Lakshmi Reddy becomes the first woman to be nominated for the Madras Legislative Council. She worked hard to improve the condition of women and children by introducing bills to abolish the Devadasi system and child marriage, reducing the fees of secondary education for poor girls, and establishing children hospitals. The contributions made by women parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are quite significant. In the first Lok Sabha, of the 499 seats, 22 (4.4%) were won by women members. Of them, two were appointed as Ministers. Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur was the first Cabinet Minister and Maragatham Chandrasekhar, a Deputy Minister. Some of the important parliamentarians during the first Lok Sabha were Uma Nehru, Maniben Patel, Jayshree, Renu Chakravarthy, Kamlendumati Shah and Durgabai. In the first Lok Sabha, women members introduced a large number of private member bills on many important social issues. Notable among them were the Dowry Restraint bill and the Hindu Marriage (Amendment) bill. The latter bill was passed by the House after general discussion. Maniben Patel introduced two important private bills on the Suppression of Immoral Traffic and Brothels and The Women’s and Children’s Institutions (Licencing). The latter was passed by the House Other bills introduced by women parliamentarians in the first Lok Sabha were: The Workmen’s Compensation Amendment bill, 1955, (insertion of new section 3-A), The Factories (Amendment) Bill (substitution of section 59) and the Indian Adoption of Children Bill. Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, as Health Minister, introduced many important government bills. These were the number of bills and changes women members bring into the country in the first election. The bills that abolished and passed by them were all sensitive in nature. And a woman has the capability of understanding and feel the pain of others. Women members are more likely to look over the issues that affect them the most like dowry, child marriage, children welfare, rape. And these are the sensitive issues we need to look over. It is very obvious that women politician will focus more on these issues than men. Therefore, we do require more women in this field.

Another positive factor about women politician are they are less corrupt than male politicians. There are numerous scams by politicians we have heard in the past many years. But there are very fewer times we hear names of female politicians involve. So, this is another reason why we need women members, to lower the corruption level in the country.

Women legislators have proved themselves most successful in projecting issues of national importance and in sponsoring legislation intended to protect the role of women and promoting equality. The contributions of women parliamentarians are in no way less significant than that of their male counterparts in the Indian Parliament or State legislatures. Women Parliamentarians have pioneered various items of social legislation which have an important bearing on the structural aspects of Indian society. They were successful enough in safeguarding the rights of Indian women and in promoting their welfare Though their preferences are for women’s upliftment and child welfare they have also shown keen interest in matters of politics, society, economy and administration.

India has had a long-serving woman prime minister and several women chief ministers and speakers of the House. Yet its record of women parliamentarians is woefully poor. For a balanced future for the country, it behoves us to debate and agree on how to change this and increasing the number of women in the parliament.

[1] The Tribune, Chandigarh


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