Economic Survey 2018: The Economic Survey today called for more representation of women in decision making process in the country, saying their political participation has been low despite them accounting for 49 per cent of the population. The survey for 2017-18 tabled in Parliament said factors such as domestic responsibilities, prevailing cultural attitudes regarding roles of women in society and lack of support from family were among main reasons that prevented them from entering politics. “In a country like India with around 49 per cent of women in the population, the political participation of women has been low,” it noted. The survey said there are developing countries like Rwanda which has more than 60 per cent women representatives in Parliament in 2017.
Countries like Egypt, India, Brazil, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka and Thailand have less than 15 per cent representation of women in Parliament, it added. Quoting an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women report — Women in Politics 2017, the survey said Lok Sabha had 64 (11.8 percent of 542 MPs) and Rajya Sabha 27 (11 per cent of 245 MPs) women MPs. “As on October 2016, out of the total 4,118 MLAs across the country, only 9 per cent were women,” it said. In India, between 2010 and 2017 women’s share rose 1 percentage point in its Lower House (Lok Sabha), it added.
Lack of confidence and finance were the other major deterring factors that prevented women from entering politics. On the other hand, for men the survey said lack of support from the electorate, finance, support of political parties and experience in ‘representative functions’ public speaking, constituency relations and confidence were among the major deterring factors. Stressing on the importance of more women political participation, the survey said, “Recognising the significance of roles of women in decision making process in the society is critical to strengthen women’s agencies for building a progressive society with equality of opportunities among all citizens.”
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It, however, said there has been substantial representation of women at local government levels but that varied from state to state. “There are 13.72 lakh elected women representatives (EWRs) in PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions) which constitute 44.2 per cent of total elected representatives (ERs) as on December, 2017,” the survey added. Women sarpanchs accounted for 43 per cent of total gram panchayats (GPs) across the country, exhibiting active leadership of women in local government, it said.