Status of Women and their Political presence in local bodies – UPSC GS1

  • The incidents of protests and violence by tribal bodies in Nagaland earlier this year over 33% reservations for women in urban local bodies have once again highlighted the issue of women and representation.
  • The protests against the 33 percent reservation for women in Urban Local Bodies, since the enactment of Nagaland Municipal (First Amendment)Act, 2006, has been on the ground that it violates Article 371(A).
  • It was seen as an infringement on Naga culture, traditions and customary laws.
Development vs Representation
  • In terms of sex ratio and female literacy, Nagaland scores over Haryana which scores highest in terms of women representation.
  • According to the 2011 census, female literacy in Nagaland was 76.69% as against 66.77% in Haryana. The sex ratio in Nagaland was 931 women per 1,000 men as against 879 women per 1,000 men in Haryana, which is the second lowest in the country.
  • However, data from the Haryana EC website shows that 42.3%women candidates at the level of the village panchayat were elected unopposed. Women campaigned actively in the panchayat elections.
  • Clearly, there is a disconnect between the low social status of women in Haryana and the comparatively higher political presence that they enjoy in representative bodies.
  • The more vexing question is the case of Nagaland, wherein women have formal agency in terms of literacy and numbers but lack a democratic voice as political representatives and decision makers is that can democratic rights and representation be traded off for tradition and the promise of development.
  • The reservation of 33 percent is a mandatory provision under Article 243 T under the Constitution of India and should be implemented as soon as possible by taking all stake holders into consensus. Urban local bodies are constitutional bodies where customary laws cannot be applied.
  • It would allow women to enter into and  participate in decision making, thus, helping in improving local governance as  helped in other states of India like better delivery in terms of drinking water supply, sanitation etc.
  • The contrast between development and reservation should not be seen from parochial perspective. We should go for inclusive development which can be achieve only by more inclusive representation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top