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International Women's Day: How are women reshaping India’s political landscape?

Despite India having had multiple female heads of state, and a progressive and highly diverse political past and present, the inclusion of women in Indian politics continues to be doubted by many countries across the world.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi Updated on: March 08, 2022 9:01 IST
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Women and
Image Source : PTI

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani with newly sworn-in ministers- Darshana Jardosh, Pratima Bhoumik, Shobha Karandlaje, Bharati Pawar, Meenakshi Lekhi, Anupriya Patel and Annapurna Devi Yadav- in New Delhi, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

 

Compared to other countries, modern India’s political history is relatively new, marking its beginning in 1947. Nevertheless, India was one of the earliest countries to grant women the right to vote, taking the step right after its independence in 1947. The politicians came to a consensus about giving women the right to vote without much discussion. By 1950, the law was made part of the Indian constitution, and women were legally allowed to vote. This sparked political aspirations amongst women across the country, urging them to join politics and discuss broad issues such as women's empowerment.

Despite India having had multiple female heads of state, and a progressive and highly diverse political past and present, the inclusion of women in Indian politics continues to be doubted by many countries across the world. It is high time that this false narrative that has cast a shadow on the general perception of the nation is laid to rest. 

Today, women are more represented in Indian politics than ever before. The Modi government has prioritised women’s issues with multiple campaigns such as ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ that have inspired millions of girls and women across the nation to take a stand for themselves. Such initiatives have also been taken by the party in politics where the BJP, in 2019, boasted of having 35% of all women MPs and MLAs in India, a fact that highlights the efforts to grant women greater representation in politics. 

Furthermore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet consists of 11 women as of today, which is the highest number of women ministers ever in a Cabinet, which accentuates the rise of women in Indian politics. By giving them access to such strong political positions, the government has given them the strength and authority to represent their gender and views in the Parliament, at a national level. 

Notable posts that have been given to women in the past and present are in the Defense Ministry (from 2017- 2019) and Finance Ministry (from 2019-present) given to Nirmala Sitharaman which gives her a powerful role in controlling the essential aspects of national governance. This shows the amount of confidence that the Modi government has in women. The BJP government has believed in women from the very beginning, having nominated Sushma Swaraj to contest for the post of Chief Minister in the 1998 Delhi elections, making her the first female CM of Delhi. And those who worked under her during her short tenure, could easily vouch for her new ideas and the anti-corruption measures taken by her such as when she carried out inspections in police stations to ensure that they came to the aid of citizens, and also how she formed a special committee to restore the supply of onions in times of crisis. 

Having acknowledged the ever-improving representation of women in Indian politics, one must not forget the importance of female voters in the creation of government, and the power and significance of their votes in every election. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the women voters’ turnout was 67.18%, which was 0.17% greater than the male voter turnout, marking a historic moment for the nation since it was the first time since India’s independence that women had outshone the men in terms of voting turnouts. This was a pivotal moment in Indian politics since women now play a major role in choosing the representatives of the nation. These numbers are simply outstanding, allowing India to boast of having one of the largest female voting populations. All of this has occurred due to the Indian women’s will to vote for their favorite party, and the help and encouragement provided by the BJP government to each and every woman across the nation.

From Vajpayee Sarkar to the Modi government, Indian politics is progressing at a faster rate than ever before, and two of the primary reasons behind this progress is the rise of women in Indian politics, and the rise in the number of women voters who indirectly control and help elect the government. From Sushma Swaraj to Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP and India have come a long way in terms of women’s political participation and representation, recognising the importance of women in shaping modern India, both in the present and the future. In the near future, the BJP government is likely to pass the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill, igniting the hope for the party to continue with its pro-women stance and to increase the role of women in governance.

Author: Ruby Yadav, BJP leader and vice president of Delhi BJP's Mahila Morcha. (The views expressed in the article are personal.)

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