Women Representation in Indian Politics: On the track but a long way to go

Women today constitute a significant and powerful force in Indian electoral politics. Compared to women turnout in the 2014 elections, which was 65.63%, in 2019, women voting percentage stood at around 68%, which almost equaled men.

In spite of their large numbers, they were not a considerable force in decision making and policymaking. But the things changed for better under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014.

We saw many women acquiring coveted political positions such as Ms. Sushma Swaraj- Minister of External Affairs; Ms. Smriti Irani- Minister of Textiles; Maneka Gandhi,-Minister for Women & Child Development, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman- Minister of Defence, Ms. Uma Bharti- Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ms. Harsimrat Kaur Badal-Minister of Food Processing.

Before 2014, we hardly saw and heard women Parliamentarians even though there were exceptions such as Ms. Indira Gandhi who is considered as one of the most influential Prime Ministers of India and Ms. Sonia Gandhi who was at the helm of affairs at the Indian National Congress Party for more than a decade and was widely accused of virtually running the government by her rivals.

At the State level, we had Ms. Sheila Dixit as the longest serving Chief Minister of Delhi, Ms. Mayawati- four times Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and also head of Bahujan Samaj Party, Ms. Vasundhara Raje, former Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the present Chief Minister of West Bengal and late Ms. Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

As very few women have reached the top level in Indian politics, gender equality remained largely rhetorical and on paper. Women continue to be underrepresented and their involvement in the political processes has huge gaps.

The fundamental reality remains that women who contest and often win the legislative seats belong to political dynasties who often get the seat relinquished by their husbands, fathers or other family members and they often rely on their family surnames to attract voters.

But this is slowly changing as women from non- political families are coming forward and are getting a chance to prove themselves.

Though a record number of women will be entering the Parliament in 2019, it will be interesting to see how they fare on the various indicators related to the status and role of women in the policymaking.

Below is the list of women who have won the General Election in 2019 and will be representing us all:

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