New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Slogans of various political parties about empowering Indian women in politics seem to have remained just lip service, if one goes by the statistics.
The case in point is that in the outgoing 16th Lok Sabha, there were only 66 women members out of the total House strength of 543, which makes it just 12 per cent.
This is the situation 67 years after the first general elections.
Had the long-pending legislative proposal to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha been passed, it could have ensured at least 179 female members in the Lower House of Parliament.
In the first Lok Sabha formed in 1952, there were 24 women. The number did not change in the second Lok Sabha formed in 1957.
The number increased when the third Lok Sabha (1962-67) was formed with 37 women, according to data available on the Lok Sabha website.
There was a decrease in the numbers in the fourth, fifth and sixth Lok Sabha where 33, 28 and 21 women were elected respectively.
The number again increased to 32 women in the seventh Lok Sabha (1980-84) and in the eighth (1984-89) with 45 women members being elected.
When the Lok Saha was elected in 1989 for the ninth time, the number of women dropped to 28.
Since then, there has been a minor but constant increase in the number of females.
The 10th Lok Sabha (1991-96) had 42 female members and the 11th was one less.
The 12th had 44 female MPs, while the 13th and 14th saw equal numbers at 52 females of the total 543 members.
The 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14) saw a major increase: it touched 64 females — about 12 per cent of the total House strength.
The 16th – the outgoing – Lok Sabha had 66 female MPs, two more than the previous term.
Since the beginning in 1952, there had been no female Speaker in the House until the 15th Lok Sabha.
Congress’ Meira Kumar was elected unopposed as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha in 2009 and served till 2014. Then, Sumitra Mahajan of BJP became the second female to preside over the 16th Lok Sabha.
The political parties have been promising 33 per cent reservation to females in legislatures a number of times.
The Congress made the pledge in its manifestos in 2019, 2014 and 2009. The BJP too made the promise in 2014 and now. The Communist Party of India-Marxist also promised the reservation in its manifestos in 1999, 2009 and 2019.
But none of the political parties could implement the promise and the number of women MPs was not even able to reach one-fourth members in the House.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])