BJP, Congress & others: pls give atleast 30% tickets to women candidates in 2019 elections

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In 2019, Indians will vote to elect a new Government for the next 5 years. And we need to make sure that there is a substantial number of women in power in the coming years.

For that, we need to act now, by ensuring there are enough women even running for elections.

Currently, only 11% of seats in the Lok Sabha (62 of 545) are held by women, even though women make up 49% of India’s population. 

This number is largely a consequence of the small number of female candidates who even ran for Lok Sabha elections in 2014 (The Wire) -

  • BJP gave only 38 of 428 tickets to women candidates
  • Congress gave 60 tickets to women
  • Bahujan Samaj Party fielded 21 women
  • Communist Party of India nominated 6 women,
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist) fielded 11 women 
  • Nationalist Congress Party gave tickets to 4 women

The Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposes reserving 33% of seats for women, is very unlikely to get the pending clearance from the Lok Sabha before the next elections.

But political parties will have to recognise that if the Parliament does not reflect the current trends of more women getting educated and achieving excellence in varied fields, they will face a crisis of credibility. Especially in the light of the #Metoo movement, politicians cannot ignore the lack of representation of women in the decision-making process for much longer.

The private sector has begun to take actions to be seen as “women friendly” – consequently proportion of senior roles held by women in India has increased from 14% in 2014 to 20% in 2018. Now the spotlight is on the Government to show its commitment towards making India a better place for women. 

Imposing voluntary Party quotas, as is done by parties in more than 50 countries, is a great way of doing that (Gender Quotas Database). The quotas will make sure women get a fair chance to campaign and qualify for their candidature, as they otherwise face challenges stemming from low levels of encouragement and access to financial resources.  

Going a bit deeper into why this needs to be done, we note the following points –

India is way behind when it comes to gender parity in politics: 

  • The 11% representation of women in Lok Sabha is much below the 30% recommended by the UN Economic and Social Council and the 22% global average of parliamentarians.
  • In 2017, India ranked 149 in a list of 193 countries in terms of women’s representation in the lower or single house of parliament as of July 1, 2017 (Inter-Parliamentary Union).  Even countries like Pakistan (90) and Bangladesh (92) rank much higher than India. 

But research suggests that more women holding political power are good for the country:

  • Studies show women legislators are more likely to advocate for changes that promote the interests of women, children and families and support public welfare in areas such as health care and education. 
  • Data also shows a positive relationship between women ministers and confidence in national governments.
  • Specifically for India, research shows that women legislators raise economic performance in their constituencies by about 1.8 percentage points per year more than male legislators (United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research)

How can gender quotas help?

Gender quotas are numerical targets that stipulate the number or percentage of women that must be included in a candidate list.  To date, gender quotas have proved to be the single most effective tool for ‘fast-tracking’ women’s representation in elected bodies of government.  Studies confirm that quotas in electoral lists increase the number of women elected (Atlas of Gender Quotas).

For benchmark, parties could give atleast 30% of total tickets to women candidates.

Party quotas themselves will not be enough to ensure more women get elected into Parliament. Individual parties will have to show commitment to women in public office and make sure women run from seats that could get them elected to parliament positions. The Parliament itself will have to become a women-friendly employer. 

And citizens of India will have to give their full support and vote for deserving female candidates.

But… getting more women tickets to run for elections is a very vital first step to ensuring we have more women in Parliament.

Having a critical mass women in decision making roles in the Government is extremely necessary if India has to improve its gender statistics and make the country a better place for women to thrive in.  

So, please join the petition to request all National Party Presidents to ensure they have a fair gender balance when giving out tickets to candidates for the 2019 elections.

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