Kolkata, April 18: Ahead of every election there are a host of issues that are debated and one among them is the lack of women representation.
While there is a bill pending in the Rajya Sabha with regard to reservation for women, the fact is that the issue would be resolved if every political party had a will.Take for instance a state like West Bengal which is ruled by a woman (Mamta Banerjee). In Phase 1(A), 1(B) and 2 there were in all 693 candidates.
The number of women fielded is 65. In Assam in the two phases the number of candidates are 1,062 and the women fielded is 91. The Kerala legislative assembly has never had more than 15 women. This is a state which has 51.9 per cent of its voters as women and the representation has been less than 10 per cent.
Why does this scenario get debated every year and yet there is no improvement? It is more to do with the fact that the decision making in all political parties is male dominated says leading psephologist, Dr Sandeep Shastri. In this interview with OneIndia, Dr Shastri discusses the reasons why the representation of women in elections is less year after year.
What is the reason for women representation being so low during the elections?
It is primarily to do with the fact that the decision making in all political parties is male dominated. If you notice that the decision making body of every political party is male dominated and this is what has led to such a low representation of women across parties. Due to this factor the women are not able to influence the decision making process.
There are parties which are headed by women. For instance, Mamta Banerjee, Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa. The scenario is no different here too.
Yes that is right. The Congress has in fact been ruled by two women and despite that the representation has always been low. This is largely to do with the fact that while a woman does head a party, a majority of the decision makers are men.
Moreover, these women leaders have to take into account the opinion of the men in the party. It is a myth to say that women representation will be higher if a party is headed by a woman.
Do you feel that excuses are made to avoid higher representation of women?
Yes I do feel that excuses are made. There is this wrong belief that women cannot take the rough and rough or the rigour of the Indian election. This is nothing but an excuse.
The winning factor is not high where the women are concerned. Your thoughts sir.
That is another excuse given by political parties. It is just a way of avoiding higher representation of women. The women have become the sacrificial lambs in every election. Basically, when a party feels that they will not win a particular seat, they field a woman there.
This way they can look for excuses to say that the winning factor is less. On the other hand they can also claim that the women are being represented. This is why I say that they have become the sacrificial lambs.
Will the scenario change if the women's reservation bill is passed?
What you need is a will and not a bill. If all political parties collectively decide to have more representation for women, then such a bill is really not needed. A collective decision and a political will solve the problem.