“The reservation of seats for women in the institutions of local self- government has had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian Political Process.” Comment

The reservation for women in the institutions of local self- government was a big step in the political empowerment of women.

Positive outcomes due to reservation

  • The reservation provided an opportunity for a large number of women to come into direct contact with the electoral politics.
  • They were the agents of change and spearheaded campaigns like Swacch Bharat Mission wherein reaching out to women was easier as they saw the women representatives as one among them.
  • It started creating a pool of women leaders who could use the opportunity as a stepping stone to make big in politics.

But the impact was limited on Patriarchal Character

  • While the policymakers were eager to introduce the reservations in local governance they shied away from reciprocating the same in legislative assemblies, legislative councils, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The Emergence of Mukhyapati where the husbands acted as proxies to women legislatures did little to put a credible challenge to the patriarchal character of the Indian political process. On the other hand, it reinforced the patriarchal character of the Indian electoral process.
  • Women were also used as a proxy by the rural elite to undermine the democratic nature of self-governance institutions.
  • The local government institutions are themselves suffering a lot of challenges owing to lack of financial independence and functional autonomy. Hence women reservation did little for elevating the status of women in the electoral process.
  • Lack of education, social constraints resulted in hesitancy among women to effectively use the constitutionally mandated reservation for registering their presence in electoral politics.
  • The increasing role of muscle power and money power in elections coupled with the financial dependence of women resulted in the inability to challenge the patriarchal character of the electoral process.

Social Empowerment, Political Empowerment and Economic Empowerment doesn’t operate in silos but are complementary to each other. While the reservations in the local institution were a step towards political empowerment, there was a lack of such concrete efforts in social and economic empowerment. Hence the reservations had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian Political Process.


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