The Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) is attempting to rectify India’s poor representation of women in their lawmaking bodies by nominating 41 percent women candidates for races in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
Despite women making up almost half of India’s 900 million voters, women make up only 11 percent of members in parliament and 9 percent in state assemblies. In a list of 193 countries, India was ranked 149th for representation of women in parliament. As a result of this drastic disparity in representation, the TMC nominated a mix of women, such as career politicians, actresses, doctors, and activists.
In response, the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party has included a promise in their manifestos to pass a bill pending since 1996 that would reserve 33 percent of seats in parliament and regional assemblies for women. However, similar promises were included in their last manifesto with no fruition. These parties have also promised women greater access to sanitary napkins, increases in female workforce participation, and protection against workplace sexual harassment.
“You can’t develop a society without uplifting the status of its women,” said Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a founding member of the TMC and two-term MP. Studies have shown that women representatives bring economic growth to their constituencies. In general, new research, suggests that women in power are a vital part of preventing nuclear conflict, as well as resolving potential nuclear weapon issues. Including women in non-proliferation talks increases the diversity of ideas and leads to more positive outcomes.
In the 2014 general election, the TMC nominated 33 percent women where 12 out of their 34 MPs in the outgoing lower house were women.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 4/16/19; BBC 4/11/19; BBC 4/17/19