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The reservation of seats for women in the institution of local self-government

Ques. “The reservation of seats for women in the institution of local self-government has had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian political process”. Comment.


  • The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments facilitated the large-scale participation of women in political institutions at the local and regional levels by introducing 33% reservation in rural and urban local bodies. Currently, around 1.4 million women are elected representatives in India.
  • However, this Constitutional Legislative privilege has been unable to have a ground shaking impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian Political Process because –
    • In India, Politics are considered inappropriate for women. Many believe that increase in the number of women representatives would not ensure quality.
    • Many Women elected are being side-lines by family members. Eg. Sarpanch-Pati phenomena.
    • Elected women also face sexual harassment at the workplace. Eg: Upasarpachn of Kurta Panchayat in Sundergarh district complained to NCW about sexual harassment by the minister in charge.
    • Women ‘s representation at the level of LSGs has not translated to higher levels of participation. For instance: Lok Sabha has only 14% of women MPs.
    • For a common woman, it’s not that easy to raise the ladders of politics without a strong political background. Therefore, the elected women mostly come from the 3B brigade – beti, bahu, biwi.
    • The cultural environment puts maximum emphasis on men. Apart from that criminalisation of politics and the political environment of instability and personality traits causes the marginal participation of women in politics.
  • However, many examples show a change in Indian society after receiving this constitutional privilege such as –
    • Women leaders have successfully fought against patriarchy and enhanced the institutional effectiveness of local governing institutions.
      • Eg: ChhaviRajawat, Sarpanch of Soda worked to bring clean water, solar power, paved roads, toilets and a bank to the village.
      • Sushma Bhadu sparked a revolution in the village of DhaniMiyan Khan, of Haryana, when she stopped covering her face with a ghunghat, a blow in the face of patriarchy.
      • Meena Behen is the first woman sarpanch from her village where women weren’t allowed to get out of their residences and talk to other men, She changed all that and raised a self-help group where other women came and formed a united front against customs that don’t allow women to come out and prove themselves.
      • Radha Devi, Bhadsiya village sarpanch is someone who ensures that none of the girls in the village remain at home not attending the school. Her work has reduced the dropout rate in three educational institutes.
    • So today need of the hour is to remove the lacunae that exist in our political system as to empower the women to her maximum potential in ways such as –
      • A Bill can be introduced in Parliament to mandatory reserve 33% seats for women, so that there issues receive national and serious attention.
      • Gender stereotypes that perceive women as weak representatives should be changed through awareness and education.
      • Women’s leadership and communication skills need to be enhanced by increasing female literacy, especially in rural areas. They should be empowered to break socio- cultural barriers and improve their status in society.
      • Some forms of political activity like elections for unions or head girls should be encouraged at the school level, so that girl children can have a taste of how democracy works.
      • Promoting the idea of the significance of women ‘s role in decision making at educational institutions and homes.
    • The Local Self Governments have provided a much-needed opportunity to women. The need of the hour is to make women aware of their rights to better exercise their powers.