New Delhi: As the country celebrates Women's
Day on Thursday, data on Parliaments across the world reveal that
India, the largest democracy, lags much behind other countries
including its neighbours such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Nepal when it comes to women's participation in politics.
With only 11 per cent of representation of women in Lok
Sabha and 10.7 per cent in Rajya Sabha, India ranks 105th in
the world, according to the latest comparative data released
by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international
organisation that works for promoting democracy in the world.
India, the world's largest democracy, has only 60 women
lawmakers in the current 543-member Lok Sabha, while there are
24 women MPs out of 240 members in Rajya Sabha at present. Two
seats in Lok Sabha and five in the Upper House have been lying
While India shares the 105th position with West African
country Cote d'Ivoire, it is ranked 85 places below Nepal and
53 places behind Pakistan. Even China at 60th spot and
Bangladesh at 65 are well above India, according to the IPU
data that are based on information provided by Parliaments by
December 31 last year.
Only Sri Lanka and Myanmar are the neighbouring countries
which are placed below India at 129 and 134 spots in the list
This sordid picture of women's participation in politics
in the country has led women activists to demand greater
political representation and call for the passage of the bill
that promises 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament.
Emphasising the importance of Women's Day in the Indian
context, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat has said, "This is an
occasion to put pressure on government to pass long-pending
legislations that would be benefit women, like the Women's
All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) general
secretary Sudha Sundararaman also said if village panchayats
can have 50 per cent reservation for women, then why cannot
Parliament have 33 per cent.
"The government should stop paying lip service, and
actually put words into action," she said.
Even in conflict-hit and resource-poor African countries
like Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Tunisia and Tanzania, women seem
to have fared well so far as their participation in national
politics is concerned.
According to the IPU data, Rwanda tops the list with the
highest number of women participation in politics in the world
with having over 56 per cent of women representatives in the
Lower House and more than 38 per cent in its Upper House.
With over 36 per cent women lawmakers, Tanzania is ranked
at 18th place along with Spain. In Uganda (ranked 19), over 35
per cent of lawmakers are women, while Tunisia (34th) and
South Sudan (35th) have over 26 per cent of female
Among the countries that have higher women participation
in national politics included Andorra, a small landlocked
country in southwestern Europe, which is ranked second with
over 50 per cent women legislators.
Then comes Cuba which has 265, or over 45 per cent, women
in its 586-member Parliament, followed by Sweden with over 44
per cent women members in its Parliament.
Rich and powerful countries like the US, Britain, Italy,
France and Germany are ranked 78th, 53rd, 57th, 69th and 21st
There are eight countries -- such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar,
Belize, Palau, Micronesia, Nauru and Solomon Islands -- which
have zero women participation in their national politics.
First Published: Thursday, March 08, 2012, 14:48