A breakthrough for women in india!

The upper house of India’s partliament has passed a bill that would reserve  a third of the seats in National and State legislatures for women.  It has serious hurdles to get over, but at least efforts on behalf of women in politics may have taken a large step forward.

The amendment is a long-sought tool to improve the lot of women in India, the world’s most populous democracy. Despite having had several formidable female leaders — including former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi, the current leader of the Congress Party — Indian women lag behind men in virtually every sphere of life.

There is a concern being expressed:

Opponents of the bill say that it will favor wealthy upper-caste women at the expense of the lower castes and Muslims.

“We are not against women reservation,” said Lalu Prasad Yadav, leader of one of the parties seeking to block the amendment. “Give reservation to poor India, to original India. Ninety percent of the population is deprived in India.”

Critics of the amendment say that it will only worsen what is already a big problem — powerful men substituting their daughters, wives and sisters as proxies in political office.

I cannot speak directly to the last worry, and many feminists will recognize the worry of women being used as proxies as possibly stemming from a familiar  inability to see women as agents.  As the notion of kyriarchy  can make us aware, providing power to all the members of a class can be much more complicated  that it may appear at first..

6 thoughts on “A breakthrough for women in india!

  1. Maybe I’m missing something, but I fail to see why reserving a number of seat in parliament for woman will make class rule any worse. Rich and powerful men often have sons too, so maybe the effect of the bill will make it possible for the daughters of powerful men, not just their sons, to get into congress. Finally, the daughters and sisters of powerful men are not mere puppets of their male relatives and at times,
    surprise the world by their independence and creativity.

  2. It’s true that this still leaves many problems unsolved, but a step in the right direction is just that: a step. We could add that the Caste system was officially outlawed over 60 years ago but remains even to this day a de facto way of life for most in India.

  3. Some of you might be interested in the debate on this proposed constitutional amendment for a quota for women in the Indian parliament.

    If so, you might want to read my (edited) book and order it for your library (perhaps?).

    2008 (edited) Reservations for Women. New Delhi: Kali Press/Women Unlimited. http://www.womenunlimited.net/catalogue/academic_6.htm

    The book is divided into four sections:

    Historical Background
    Theoretical Issues
    Women as Policy Makers
    Alternatives to the Women’s Reservation Bill

    It is the first comprehensive book on this debate.


    Dr Meena Dhanda (D.Phil. Oxford)
    Course Leader Philosophy
    MC406 Millennium City Building
    University of Wolverhampton
    Wulfruna Street
    WV1 1LY

    Office: 01902-323503

  4. Thanks so much, MD. it looks very interesting. Amazon says they have just one copy left!

  5. We believe that its indeed the right step. Women in India definitely need to come up and reservation at the top will ensure that women will get the proper place that they deserve. When reservation was done in village panchayats, it tremendously helped in improving the standard of village women.

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