India: Women continue to remain under-represented in Parliament

United Nations, March 22: Women have occupied important positions of power in India but they continue to remain under-represented in Parliament, making up just 12 per cent of the elected representatives, India has said at a UN forum as the 900 million-strong electorate in the country gears up for the upcoming general elections.

Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN Ambassador Nagaraj Naidu said Thursday that the landmark 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution (1992) led to reserving 33 per cent  of the seats for women at all grassroots level — village, block and district-level institutions.

Today India has 1.4 million elected women representatives. Women constitute around 44 per cent of the total grassroots elected representatives and 43 per cent of the elected heads of villages in India are women, he said.

“At the national level, while women have occupied important positions of power, they continue to remain under-represented in the national Parliament. In the last General Election, women made up just 12 per cent of the elected representatives,” Naidu said at a side event organised by the UN Democracy Fund on the sidelines of the 63rd Commission on Status of Women Empowerment.

Naidu, however, added that the process of decentralisation has provided representation but representation does not necessarily lead to participation. He told the gathering that 2,300 political parties will be vying for votes in the Indian general elections that kick off on April 11. The country’s 900 million electorate will cast its ballot using over two million electronic voting machines. “India’s eligible voting population is almost three times entire population of the United States,” he said.

Naidu also stressed that while democracies are not perfect, “they are not imperfect either.  “It is this co-existence of the perfect and imperfect that make democracies relatable and, in some sense, glorious,” he said. — PTI

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