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A Quantitative Study of the Questions Asked by Women Members in Lok Sabha (1999–2019)

Performance of Women in Parliament

The performance of women legislators is analysed by looking at the nature of questions posed by them over a span of 20 years (1999–2019) in the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The analysis, however, is a contestation of claims that suggest women act as silent members, and if at all they speak, they do on “softer issues” like women and child development, food processing, health, and sanitation, thus trying to escape the discussions on national security, finance, agriculture, railways, etc. These are otherwise considered as male bastions. This paper is a quantitative analysis of women’s political performance during the Question Hour session, which is considered as an important plenary space where legislators act on their own, free from the party regulation.

Independent India claims to be the world’s largest democracy, turbulent and vigorous but ever so evolving. Elections form the animating spirit of Indian democracy. It is held religiously every five years with enough pomp and show. Indian democracy flourishes with exceptional rates of citizen participation. The Lok Sabha elections of 2019 manifested 67% voter turnout with decreasing rates of gender gap (ECI 2019). These figures indicate the undying credence citizens have in Indian politics and its democracy, despite the limitations of electoral democracy. The Indian Parliament acts as a theatre of democracy regardless of the people’s sneering disbelief and despondency in political institutions of the country to which Parliament is no exception (Rai and Spray 2019: 2). Electoral democracies all over the world are faced with criticism about their substantive representation1 to which they retort by translating democracy into electoral representation. How can the democratic institutions in India include all its citizens? In other words, how can these institutions be representative of its entire population? (Jayal 2013: 25). Here, what concerns this paper is the study of the impact of systematic exclusion of women from the political life on their political representation and in turn on their political performance.

Limited literature is available on Parliament, the country’s foremost political institution that asserts representing Indian democracy. Barring a few, there is a serious literature gap when it comes to some meaningful critical reviews of the institution (Shankar and Rodrigues 2011; Gupta 2003; Kashyap 2008). Women have had a history of marginal representation in leadership positions, especially when it comes to their participation in the political sphere. The 2019 election saw a historic rise in the number of women elected to the lower house of Parliament. Seventy-eight women were welcomed to Parliament for the first time since independence when only 22 women members were part of the house of 543 members during the first Lok Sabha.

On the one hand, there is a reason to celebrate this historic increase. However, on the other hand, there is an increased need for reflection on why women’s representation is still not reflective or inadequate to their proportion in the population.

The research aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of women’s political representation that will be theoretically informed and empirically based. There cannot be a more productive space than Parliament to study all kinds of contradictions prevalent in any society. It acts as a mirror to a society representing different constituencies, identity groups, their diverse and varied interests and opinions; Indian society being a perfect example. The claim that the Indian Parliament is representative of the Indian society cannot bear the test of time. Therefore, it stands rejected experiencing the systematic exclusion of nearly half of its population of women.

Framework

Current research is an attempt to understand and assess the claim-making by trying to make some sense of the role played by gender in Indian Parliament. Thus, the research employs a performance framework (where women’s questions asked in Parliament are analysed). The paper relies on some major theoretical and analytical premises that are fundamental to its understanding:

 

Institutional development (Rai and Spray 2019: 21): The core of this research is that access to positions of power for women elected to Lok Sabha and in turn leading to reduction in the gender gap in Parliament is not the sole solution to our problem. However, what remains in focus is the link between the access to positions of power and their participation.

 

Access to justice (Rai and Spray 2019: 21): This premise is based on a fact that an increase in women’s political representation is indubitable simply because of the fact that women just like men form half of the world’s population. It is their inalienable right to equality when it comes to access to justice. Any ascribed identity cannot form the basis of inequality.

 

Intersection of identities (Fraser 1995: 73): Allows the researcher to understand how performance and politics are mutually constitutive of each other by allowing to analyse representation through the lens of intersection of identities. An analysis of all the above-mentioned premises is central to this research for developing an understanding of the coexisting nature of representation and performance.

Theoretical Evaluation

Policy discussions for group inclusion have been gaining immense popularity. Electoral quotas were quite uncommon till the 1980s. However, times have changed as 77 countries from around the globe either have legislative candidate quotas or reserved seats for women in the lower houses of their legislative assemblies by 2016 (Jensenius 2017: 15). It is indeed extremely tempting to consider such policies of group inclusion to result in effective group representation.

Hannah Pitkin in her pioneering work on political representation maintained that representation is “acting in the interests of those being represented” (Pitkin 1972: 209). This suggests that the representative shall have both the ability as well as the intention to represent the community. This refers to what we call substantive representation. It means acting for the community/group. Whether descriptive representation leads to substantive representation that is an increased presence of women legislators in Parliament will lead to a better representation of women’s interests is also what the study looks at by analysing the performance of women in Parliament.

Pitkin argues that none of the four dimensions of representation can be studied in isolation, rather they are parts of a whole and are interrelated (Pitkin 1972). Bulk of the literature available on women in legislative politics is based on Pitkin’s integrated model of women’s representation. The debates on political representation vary from country to country owing to the varying institutional structures, characteristics of women’s movements, and a number of other factors. While studying women’s political representation, one cannot skip analysing Latin American democracies. Women’s representation in Latin America has seen a dramatic upward trend over the past 30 years. In Argentina, women formed 40% of the legislature in 2008 compared to a meager 4% in 1983. One of the earliest democracies, Costa Rica has also seen phenomenal strides by sending 38% of women to its legislature in 2006. As discussed earlier, formal representation impacts descriptive representation. But there is much more to it. Representation is not a phenomenon that takes place in isolation from society. The overarching social, economic, political, cultural, and territorial factors
affect the descriptive representation (Norris 1985; Paxton and Hughes 2007; Inglehart and Norris 2003).

All these factors play a key role in determining the percentage of women representatives elected to legislatures in most, if not all, Latin American democracies. Culture is one such social factor that can significantly hinder the representation of women in various political offices because most societies separate
private from political. This envision of distinct gender roles creates obstacles for women. Evidently, the lack of political will contributes to the fact that the United States Senate has a representation of only 13% of a group that comprises half its population (Lawless and Fox 2004). Therefore, literature suggests that the societies with a favourable cultural atmosphere supporting women’s access to politics by giving them opportunities to build a career in politics see a decent representation of women in their legislative assemblies (Norris 2003; Paxton and Hughes 2007; Tremblay 2007). Therefore, patriarchal culture of the society acts as a strong hindrance to the access of women into politics in sub-Saharan Africa (Yoon 2004). Rule (1987), Reynolds (1999), Tripp and Kang (2008), and Kenworthy and Malami (1999) argued that the dominant religious belief of a society has a direct correlation with the number of women running for the political offices in that society. Democratic culture and representation of women in politics are correlated (Bayer 2010).

A traditional measure of women’s representation around the world has been either descriptive representation or substantive representation. The post-conflict African democracies are no exception. Some of the African countries whose success story of women’s representation has been a popular discourse include Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Nigeria (Bauer and Britton 2006). What is worth mentioning is not just the increased numbers due to the adoption of affirmative action in most of these countries. Instead, it should not be seen as an end in itself, rather there is a need to go beyond the numbers. Focus should be on taking on a pro-women agenda in the otherwise masculine institutional context.

A key component of the study of political representation, especially women’s political representation, is the analysis of the electoral system that is in practice in any democracy. A growing body of literature suggests that countries with a proportional representation system have an increased percentage of women in their legislative assemblies as compared to countries with first-past-the-post system (Kenworthy and Malami 2005; Matland 1998; Siaroff 2000; Reynolds 1999). A classic study by Lijphart (1999) made a comparative analysis of the proportionality and majority systems across 13 democratic countries over a time of 30 years. The study suggests that proportional representation systems represent minority group interests better by ensuring greater representation of women representatives. The Inter-parliamentary Union Data (2016) also suggests that the number of women elected in the proportional representation system is double compared to the majority systems across 193 countries. The potential of a proportional representation system to translate the vote share into the maximum seat share in the legislature also depends on a large district magnitude coupled with a party magnitude (Norris 2006; Matland and Brown 1992; Rule 1987). A classic case of the proportional representation system is New Zealand. In 1996, it amended its constitution by changing from a single-member plurality system to a multi-member plurality system. Since the country adopted the proportional representation system, the women in New Zealand not only witnessed significant increase in their descriptive representation, but representation of women belonging to various social strata of society was also taken care of.

Women in Indian Politics

Nivedita Menon presents a feminist theory and politics in India by referring to women’s movement. She argues that the participation of women in politics during the women’s movements challenged patriarchal and gender inequalities. The study maintains that India is not home to a single woman’s movement (Menon 1999). Within the unchanged institutional framework of Indian electoral politics, women have tried various alternate paths to power over the period of two decades. Gender has always and continues to play a crucial role in determining the path to power and the legitimacy they gain upon (Spray 2007).

Women in India are becoming more literate and wealthy. This is one of the reasons behind them being more politically active. They have started organising themselves into small local economic groups. Evidence suggests that women who are part of these economic groups tend to be politically more active (Prillaman 2016). Though the voter turnout gap between men and women has reduced, this does not suggest that women outnumber men. Society’s entrenched preference for a male child places India at a shameful position of 186 of 194 countries according to the World Bank rankings. But, what appears welcoming is that women being more politically active have already started making an impact on how candidates campaign and govern once they are in power (Anand 2017). However, there is still a long way to go. The percentage of women candidates contesting for elections has gone up too. They either contest from constituencies that have more men than women population (Kapoor and Ravi 2013) or from reserved constituencies (Jensenius 2016). There is evidence suggesting that more women in Parliament is likely to have considerable impact on gender perceptions as it is more likely to break stereotypes about distinct gender roles in public and private domains. Beaman et al (2012) in another study argue that female leadership influences the adolescent girl’s career options and their educational attainment, calling it a role-model effect. Women leaders are also associated with higher growth and lower levels of corruption.

Literature suggests that women like other minorities and historically marginalised groups tend to be better representatives of their group/community because of a shared sense of culture, experience, and traditions (Phillips 1995; Mansbridge 1999; Svaleryd 2009; Edlund and Pande 2002; Minta 2009; Campbell et al 2010). However, this argument is completely contrary to the ideal political system where representatives are supposed to act in the best interests of those being represented rather than representing caste, class, sex, race, religion, etc. The identity should not affect their political performance. There is also an ample amount of literature that suggests women do not want themselves to be seen only as representatives of women, working only for women’s interests. They do not see themselves working just for women (Lublin 1999; Skard 2012; Diamond 1977; Htun 2016).

Any meaningful discussion on women’s political representation and their participation in politics is incomplete without an analysis of the impact of gender on participation of women in debates, deliberations, and questioning on the floor of the house. Since the most important facet of a member of Parliament (MP) is to deliberate, questioning and participating in debates is perhaps the most apparent behaviour of women members of Parliament (Franceschet and Piscopo 2008).

The notion that women will represent women’s issues better and prove to be better performing representatives is born out of the argument that descriptive representation will lead to substantive representation. This forms the core theoretical underpinning of this paper. An analysis of the issues that women choose to speak on during the Question Hour of the Parliament will put the above assumption to test. The claim, however, is dangerous because it forces one to believe that women form a homogeneous group with monolithic characteristics, all of whom share similar interests, policy preferences, and ideas. The preliminary examination of the data was collected by analysing a vast data repository (comprising almost 4,00,000 responses by both male and female MPs). Questions asked by women on the floor of the house over a span of 20 years (1999–2019) suggest the antithesis of the popular assumption that women are only interested and capable of handling softer issues like women and child development, health and sanitation, and food processing. Women are likely to speak on issues that are of prime importance to all, including the hardcore issues of home, foreign affairs, railways, and infrastructure. Thus, women do not bring something special to politics only for women. They wish to work as representatives without paying attention to the gender of those being represented. Further, it is not a guarantee that women will represent women’s issues better than men do. This leads to the fact that an increase in the physical representation of women in Parliament will not automatically result in furthering women’s interests.

Women MPs are faced with institutional restraints affecting their participation and speaking rights that impacts their performance (Macklay 2008: 126). And when they speak, their performance is scrutinised more closely.

Women do not form a homogeneous group. They represent various identities like race, religion, caste, class, and region. All these have a bearing on women’s limited representative claim-making in Parliament. Women are supposed to act for women and this ascriptive identity of theirs becomes important in debates and discussions discussing “women’s questions.” Since participation in debates form an important parameter of the MPs’ performance, questions asked by MP women legislators during the Question Hour of Parliament are used as an alternative by the women members to mitigate the limited chances they get to participate in debates and succumbing to the party pressures of what to speak in Parliament.

Analysing debates is beyond the scope of this paper. However, such an analysis is beautifully done by Shirin M Rai and Carole Spray in one of their pioneering works “Performing Representation: Women Members in Indian Parliament.” The parliamentary term from 1999 to 2019 was specifically chosen as it involved four general elections with governments completing their full-five year terms and two different ruling coalitions at the helm of affairs (the National Democratic Alliance [NDA]-led Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and the United Progressive Alliance [UPA]-led Indian National Congress [INC]). This period was also considered a historic era in women’s political representation when the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha welcomed 59 and 66 women members—the highest number of seats filled by women till date. They occupied a little more than 13% of the total 543 seats (ECI 2018).

Data and Findings

Studies have shown that representatives from certain communities have led to an assimilation of the community they represent into the mainstream societal fabric (Jensenius 2017). The presence of members in various political positions of power belonging to a particular community has also led to the representation of their interests and delivery of public goods in their favour (Duflo and Chattopadhyay 2002). This paper analyses the performance of women and male legislators (on selected issues) from the proceedings of Question Hour over a period of 20 years (1999–2019). It tries to understand whether community belongingness among women translates into representation of only the interests of the community they belong to or a general representation of the interests. India is no exception to women being in numerical minority in the political institutions. India ranked 149th in the global rankings by the United Nations Women, well behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in January 2019 (Lokniti–CSDS 2019). However, the past few elections to Lok Sabha have seen a considerable improvement in the numbers for a group that forms half of the population, however, inadequate.

 

What do women speak about? The Question Hour is the first session of the day in both Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha. During this session, members from both the ruling government as well as the opposition are free to ask questions from the ministers. Questions, can demand either oral answers to starred answers or written answers to unstarred questions. Each day a total of 250 questions, including both starred and unstarred questions can be tabled. Thus, this massive repository of information becomes extremely important for political scientists to study. Interestingly, these questions can be analysed in a number of ways. One of the ways to evaluate the MPs’ performance is to look at the number of questions raised by them (Ayyangar and Jacob 2014; Alemán et al 2018; Bailer 2011). Another important method involves dis­aggregating the data further by doing a content analysis. This can lead to an analyses of the group being represented or the area of concern of the representative (Jacob 2014; Bird 2005; Saalfeld 2011; Spary 2010). A vast body of literature uses Question Hour as a tool, especially while studying European Parliaments. Blidook and Kerby (2014) studied Canadian Parliament and found that representatives tend to ask more questions related to agriculture if the constituency they are representing has a vast electorate engaged in agricultural activities. Similarly, a study on women legislators in the British Parliament suggests that the questions they ask tend to have terms like “women,” “gender,” and “men” more than their male counterparts (Birds 2005). This paper involves an analysis of Question Hours over a period of 20 years with four general elections (1999–2019) analysing a repository of around 4,00,000 questions.

The paper employs both the above explained methods to study these questions. Using the first method, the number of questions, involving both starred and unstarred, asked by women representatives was calculated. These questions were then categorised into various ministries under whose ambit they fell. This led to the deduction of the areas of concern for women representatives. In the other part of the study, using content analysis, questions asked by male representatives were carefully analysed. Questions involving texts like women, girls, schemes for women, rape, janani, crimes against women, and maternal were collected and categorised into various ministries.

The data comprised all the questions women asked in the Lok Sabha from 1999 to 2019. This included four consecutives Lok Sabha sessions (the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Lok Sabha). The performance of women MPs is subjected to critical scrutiny because of their ascribed identity. They are expected to represent women’s interests more even though their path to Parliament is met with similar obligations to party whip and discipline like their male counterparts. The data were collected from the official website of the Lok Sabha. The question bank included both the starred and the un-starred questions.2 Women members look at questions as an opportunity to counter the limited opportunities available to them to participate in the legislative functioning of Parliament. It is more important for them than debates for participation, claim-making, and carving out a space for themselves (Rai and Spray 2019).

Looking at the data collected for the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Lok Sabha, the total number of questions that women asked over 20 years amounted to 41,065 (Table 1). This counters the claim that women do not speak in Parliament and act as gungi gudiyas (dumb dolls). Their participation compared to men is marginal along with the representation of women.

Analysing the disaggregated data reveals that during the 13th Lok Sabha, the issues that rank higher on the list of women representatives include health and family welfare, human resource development, home affairs, finance, agriculture and railways (Figure 1). The total number of questions asked by women were way less than half of what men ask.

A similar exercise was done for the 14th, 15th, and 16th Lok Sabha. All the starred and unstarred questions asked by women members were carefully studied. The overall proportion of questions from the 13th–16th Lok Sabha witnessed an increase from 6,653 to 16,485. This can be attributed to an increase in the number of women elected as MPs. It is worth mentioning that issues related to health and family welfare, human resource development, agriculture, railways, finance and home affairs continue to interest women members (Figure 1), therefore, contesting the claim that women are always interested in “softer issues” stereotyped as feminine. They are considered as caregivers and negotiators incapable of taking strong independent decisions associated with the home and finance sectors. The data revealed that women are interested in issues across the spectrum.

 

What do men speak about? Before analysing the questions that women asked, it is important to understand how male legislators behave when it comes to the issues concerning women. The data suggest that, on an average, men speak more than women in debates on the floor of the house. Therefore, questions that men asked during the Question Hour of Parliament from 1999 to 2019 were studied in much detail. The text of the questions asked by men was analysed using content analysis. Only those questions that had text like women, girls, schemes for women, rape, janani, and crimes against women, and maternal, which overtly or covertly app­eared to concern women, were taken into account, thus categorising such issues as “issues concerning women” for the sake of the study. This led to the finding that men asked more questions than women on “issues concerning women” that fall under the Ministry of Women and Child
Development (Table 2, p 56). The data also suggest that women do not bring anything special to politics for women only—contrary to the belief that women act in the best interests of women only since male legislators are asking more questions on issues directly concerning women than female legislators. This is a welcome step, but whether it is long-lasting or not is a test of time.

On an average, men participate and ask more questions than women on issues that are of general concern. Men asked 281 questions in comparison to women’s 218 questions during the 15th Lok Sabha. The average number of questions women asked did show an upward trend of 262 questions during the 16th Lok Sabha, still lower than their male counterparts. What the data suggest are that women MPs behave differently while performing in Parliament on the basis of the issue at hand rather than being concerned about the gender of those being represented.

 

Frequent women speakers: Question Hour is an important instrument of legislative accountability that has not received scholarly attention, especially in the Indian context. Ayyangar and Jacob (1980–2009) assembled a massive data set spanning over a period of 30 years analysing various individual characteristics and performances. This paper tries to disaggregate the data on questions asked by women members in Lok Sabha further. It argues that though the comparative number of frequent women speakers on the floor of the house has increased, they still feature low in the ranks to the frequent male speakers during the 15th and the 16th Lok Sabha. From among the most active women members, in terms of the questions asked, most of them were serving their first or second term with a few exceptions of members like Sumitra Mahajan who was serving her eighth term (Table 3). During the 15th Lok Sabha, Supriya Sule, a member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), asked the highest number of questions despite it being her first term in the Lok Sabha. She asked as many as 739 questions, which was still way lower than the total number of questions asked by the most active male parliamentarians (Table 3). P N Punia asked 1,266 questions during his term as an MP.

The data suggest that women MPs even when marginally represented in Parliament are hardly inactive. Studies pointed out that women MPs ask relatively fewer questions than their male counterparts (Ayyangar and Jacob 2014) owing to their marginal comparative representation. This paper maintains that the gender gap in terms of the questions asked is reasonably decreasing. During the 15th Lok Sabha, the average number of questions asked by women was 218, while men asked an average of 281 questions. However, in the 16th Lok Sabha, this gap was further reduced when the average number of questions asked by women was 262, while men asked 267 questions on average. To sum up, the most active women member (Supriya Sule for both the Lok Sabhas; that is 2009 and 2014) is more active than almost a majority of male members.

This paper highlights the importance of questioning as claim-making because it is seen as a preferred way of raising concerns in Parliament and an alternative to constraints on claim-making. Women MPs like Supriya Sule who are active question posers do not participate frequently in debates (Table 3 and 4, p 57). In 2009, she raised 739 questions and participated only in 38 debates (Table 3). While in 2014, she did fairly well by participating in 152 debates and raising 1,186 questions (Table 4). One can deduce that the active question posers do not see participation in debates feasible for claim-making on the floor of the house.

From 2009 to 2019, the most frequently speaking women representatives belonged to the BJP, irrespective of whether it was in opposition or in power. It indicates that the BJP tends to field active women candidates. Measurement of legislative performance from the Question Hour also indicates the women representing constituencies from historically marginalised states like north-eastern states exhibited fairly poor performance, while women representing states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh did reasonably well. Women MPs with a graduate-level degree were found to be more active than women with either lesser or higher levels of degree to their credit.

The correlation between age and the performance of women representatives is also found to be positive till the age of 50 years during the 15th Lok Sabha and 45 years during 16th Lok Sabha. The data suggest that women who are first- or second-timers are more active in asking questions unlike the experienced members. This can also be indicative of the fact that newer members use the Question Hour as a chance of getting into the good books of the party selectors. Therefore, the data suggest that legislative experience and legislative performance during the Question Hour do not hold a positive correlation when it comes to women representatives elected to the Lok Sabha. All the findings taken together offer an in-depth analysis of women’s legislative performance during an important coliseum of parliamentary procedure. Thus, the data suggest that young (parliamentary terms-served), graduate women representatives from states like Maharashtra contesting on the BJP ticket tend to be more active during the Question Hour.

This paper is a contestation to the literature that suggests that women are silent spectators in Parliament, referring to them as gungi gudiyas. It also refutes studies which suggest that women bring something unique to politics and thus shall represent only women, or women MPs are interested in “softer issues” like health and family welfare, food processing industries, textiles, and social welfare.

Discussion and Implications

The Indian political system has an electoral representation system where seats are allocated to each state based on the population of that particular state. However, what one witnesses is an inadequate representation of women in accordance to their proportion of population in each state. Women have an equal right to participate in the public affairs and governance of their country. Despite proclamations of various national and international provisions, the reality leaves much to be desired the world over (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women endorses women’s right to participate in political and public affairs either directly as voters or indirectly through elected representatives. Women’s participation in politics has witnessed an upward trend since the last few general elections, both as voters and elected representatives. However, it still remains inadequate as they continue to face several sociocultural and economic hurdles. Women representatives face inevitable conflict, challenging the dominant norms and practices within society in general and political institutions in particular. This paper tries to understand the friction between the burden women bear of representing women’s issues better and being concerned about the imperceptibility of these issues in Parliament. According to Geraldine Forbes (2005), women’s role in politics is to usher some special feminine virtues into the public political domain as they are assumed to have special knowledge, interests, and skills. This slamming of ascriptive identity on a group leads to a kind of “super-surveillance” of the specialists. This leads to a closer scrutiny of their performance. As a consequence, women representatives self-regulate their performance along with being selective about the issues they speak on.

The analysis of the questions that women ask in Parliament suggests that they are seen as legitimate representatives. But, women representatives do not seem to regulate their performance by asking questions related only to women and child development and food processing industries, which are primarily seen as softer feminine domains. They are also interested in issues pertaining to national security, finance, agriculture, railways, etc. These are otherwise considered masculine. More men than women had asked questions containing text like women, girls, schemes for women, and rape related to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Women MPs do prioritise their adequate participation in Parliament. However, what is equally important is the participation of more male MPs supporting issues concerning women, both overtly and covertly.

Parliament as an institution is gendered and corrupt. But, it has historically journeyed through the parliamentary landscape—evolved and developed into an institution that is more diverse and less socially elite. It is an institution that makes claims of representation. Analysing the debates on gender and politics, using the performance framework, one concludes that the problem of under-representation of women is only superficial. What lies underneath is the structural inequality where women are marginalised at all levels.

This structural exclusion of women takes the form of both formal as well as informal exclusion. Beginning at home, women are expected to exhibit appropriate behaviour by staying away from politics because of the threat of violence against them in the public domain. Structural inequality exists in the form of political parties acting as gatekeepers to keep women out of parliamentary politics and overlooking them while distributing tickets for winnable seats and membership of various parliamentary committees. It can therefore be argued that familial set-up, kinship, and the socio-economic and cultural conditions in which the socialisation of women takes place has a firm bearing on how women perceive politics as a career. This paper weaves together an analysis with an exploration of the dyna­mics of the increasing women’s political representation and their participation in the legislative functioning. The impact of women on politics has been positive overall.

Notes

Substantive representation is one of the four views of representation offered by Hannah Fenichel Pitkin in The Concept of Representation; others being formalistic, descriptive, and symbolic representation. The substantive representation refers to all those activities of the representative performed in the terms of those being represented. The performance of the representative is evaluated by the effectiveness and the extent to which the representative advances the policy outcomes serving the best interests of whom they represents.

Starred Question is one to which an oral answer is desired on the floor of the house. Supplementary questions can follow a starred question.

Unstarred Question is one to which a written answer is desired by the member to be laid on the table of the house by the minister. It does not call for an oral answer nor can a supplementary question follow the unstarred question.

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Updated On : 1st Aug, 2022
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