Women’s Reservation in the Parliament

In the recent past there have been a lot of debate on the reservation of women in the Parliament and a bill on Women’s Reservation has been promulgated in the parliament. There have been many reasons advanced for passing the bill such as:

  • 50% of the population are women, hence reservation should be there in the Parliament: As per Aristotle, democracy is akin to freedom, a freedom to rule and be ruled. “But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to number, not worth, … And one is for a man to live as he likes; for they say that this is the function of liberty, inasmuch as to live not as one likes is the life of a man that is a slave.” In essence, freedom to be elected is an important canon of democracy and reserving seats in the parliament is a blow to this canon and counterproductive to democracy. Reasons such as 50% of the population are women is not a correct way of looking at it. In India, there are no restriction on women to contest elections and canvassing for the same. As democracy is based on the concept of liberty and choice, let the people choose whosoever they feel are the best candidates to represent them.

Having a reservation, takes away the liberty of choice from the people and also the liberty to be elected to represent the public, which is against the philosophy of democracy.

On another note, taking the above reasoning further, as 25% of the Indian population are children, why should we not reserve seats for them in the parliament?

  • There is no political representation of women in the parliament: India being an indirect democracy, has elected representatives who control the law making process. The elected representatives need to do as directed by the electorate as they are representing them. In case of India, over the last few elections, the percentage votes of men and women are:

 

General Election Year

Men (% votes)

Women (% votes)

1999

40.01%

59.99%

2004

41.93%

58.07%

2009

45.8%

54.2%

 

The dominant group from the above data is clearly the women of India, as they are nearly 60% of the voters, and not the men. Hence, women exercise more political representation than men as is evident from the voter data above. Women have themselves elected their representatives to the parliament and stating that they donot have an equal representation is incorrect as it is primarily their representatives in the parliament.

  • Women own just 1% assets of the world: How is owning just 1% assets a proof of ability to be elected to the parliament? Further, this number is used in many places but no source for the same is ever given. As per an estimate, the consumption of assets (real estate and jewellery) per year between men and women in India is about US$ 40.8 bn for men and US$ 58.5 bn for women. If they consume more assets than men then how come they hold only 1% of the assets? Further, this reasoning does not have any bearing on the discussion at hand.
  • Women’s voice is not heard: Again this is a misplaced argument. The government has special ministry just for Women’s Welfare and also many NGOs are funded for the development of women and to hear their voice. The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) has been formed by the government of India. As per the website of MoWCD “the broad mandate of the Ministry is to have holistic development of Women and Children. As a nodal Ministry for the advancement of women and children, the Ministry formulates plans, policies and programmes; enacts/ amends legislation, guides and coordinates the efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the field of Women and Child Development”. Another statutory organization working for women development is The National Commission for Women (NCW) whose mandate includes, “review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women, recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women”. Therefore, stating that women’s voice is not heard is an incorrect reasoning as there are ample constitutional machineries for the same.
  • Reserving seats in the parliament is a tool for women empowerment and upliftment: India has about 11% women in the parliament. Pakistan has a reservation in its parliament for women and has a 17.5% women representation. Do let me know if Pakistan’s ranking in women empowerment and freedom is higher than India. United States does not have any reservations for women in their house of representatives, do women there have no empowerment and freedom?

Reservation in the parliament is not a method and correct way to improve women empowerment and freedom. These objectives are best achieved by way of primary, secondary and tertiary education. India is already focused on education for both the genders, you may refer to the article Higher Education: Gender Biasness Myth for a further discussion.

 

One of the noteable feature of the Indian Constitution as compared with the Government of India Act, 1935 (which was passed by the British) was the abolition of communal elctorates, which the British had incorporated in the 1935 Act. Our forefathers adopted the ideology of no voting on communal lines in the Indian Constitution in the interest of national fraternity and solidarity. The vice of communal voting and reservations was abolished with the Indian Constitution. Therefore adding reservation based on gender in the parliament not only vitiates the ideology of our founding forefathers, which they had for independent India, but also infringes upon the liberty of the Indian people. Such a reservation, in essence, is a step backwards in democracy and against the vision of our learned forefathers. Reservations may also cause a deterioration in the quality of leaders/representatives as then the electorate may have to choose between sub-optimal candidates.

Let us all Stand Up for a Cause…

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Why should Women Study?

Education is the pillar for economic growth and development. As a nation develops, the share of Industrial and Services sector increases in the GDP. Employment opportunities are generated and the country requires educated workforce. Economic growth is related to improvement in technology, which in turn is dependent on the availability of researchers in the country. Therefore, education can said to be one of the most important pillars for growth of a country. No wonder every year the Indian government spends crores of rupees on the education sector.

For the XI plan a total of Rs. 177,566.86 crores has been spent on educating the youth of India which is divided into –

  • Allocation for higher education: Rs. 39,646.82 crores (ie. Average yearly expenditure of Rs. 7,929.4 crores)
  • School Education and Literacy: Rs. 137,920.04 crores (ie. Average yearly expenditure of Rs. 27,584.0 crores)

Taking into account the total enrollment of students for school education and higher education , the average expense per year for every student paid by the taxpayers comes to Rs. 1142 for school education and Rs. 2776 for higher education. Therefore on an average to train 1 student (who has cleared higher education), the total taxpayer expenditure comes to Rs. 22,030 (12 years of schooling and 3 years of college).

Now a question arises why are we discussing the amount spent by our government for higher education. We will shortly come to that question. In the meanwhile let up analyse the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for women in India. The LFPR for women has been continuously declining since 2004 from 208 to 168 per thousand persons, which is a substantial decline. Every year roughly 1.3 crore women graduate in India, hence in the past 10 years about 13 crores women have graduated. As per the NSS estimate about 0.6 crore women in the age group of 25-34 are working in administrative, technical, professional and clerical roles .

Of the 13 crore trained women only 0.6 crore are in the Labour Force. A whooping 12.1 crore women are not working even though they are highly qualified. The taxpayers have spent roughly Rs. 265,816 crores in training these women, who are not contributing to the growth of the economy. These funds could have been better used at some other place which could have provided better economic growth and return on investment.

Now an interesting question arises as to why women donot want to work even though they are equally qualified. Often a reason promulgated is sexual harassment at workplace. We do have strict sexual harassment laws, still the workforce participation rate is falling. If sexual harassment was the reason, these strict laws ought to have increased the LFPR, which is not the case.

Now a question arises that what could be the reasons for this deep rooted social issue where well educated women are going out of the work force and even applying for maintenance from their husbands:

  1. Lack of agency on women’s part which means treating them as children. They are grown up and ought to be treated as same and should be made responsible for their own decisions
  2. Lack of responsibilities on women. All the responsibilities are on men socially as well as legally. Section 125 of CrPC specifically states that men are responsible for the upkeep of their wives and parents. No such responsibility is there on women howsoever qualified she might be.
  3. Lack of accountability on women. It has been seen that women are not made accountable for their actions. As is evident in the sharp rise in frivolous cases filed by them. Further, women centric laws are being implemented and sops are regularly doled out for them during each government budget

The effects of these social issues are grave such as:

  1. The loss to the GDP of India as discussed above
  2. Increase in the number of serious crimes committed by women
  3. Reduction of women from the workforce
  4. Rise in frivolous case of sexual assault
  5. Increase in the number of male suicides

In a maintenance case filed by an educated wife, the learned Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had commented, “The law does not help indolents as well idles so also does not want an army of self made lazy idles. Everyone has to earn for the purpose of maintenance of himself or herself, atleast, has to make sincere efforts in that direction.” The learned Judge further stated, “In fact, well qualified spouses desirous of remaining idle, not making efforts for the purpose of finding out a source of livelihood, have to be discouraged, if the society wants to progress.”

How do we rectify these social issues? What should be the future steps, let us all Stand Up for a Cause…

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Sources:

  1. Yearwise Plan Expenditure (Ministry of Human Resource Development): http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/YearwiseXIPlanExpdt.pdf
  2. Statistics of School Education 2009-10 (Ministry of Human Resource Development): http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/SES-School_200910F.pdf
  3. All India Survey on Higher Education 2011-12 (Ministry of Human Resource Development): http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/AISHE2011-12P_1.pdf
  4. Key Indicators of Employment and Unemployment in India 2011-12 (NSS 68th Round) (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation)
  5. Code 1-4 of NCO-2004 (Ministry of Labour): http://dget.nic.in/nco/CodeStructure.pdf . Calculation Steps: Multiplying the women in workforce (Age 25-34) given on pg 119 with women working in office given on pg 196.

Definitions:

School Education: Typically defined as classes I to XII.

Higher Education: Typically Universities, Colleges and Stand-Alone Institutions and includes integrated, certificate,  diploma, degree, post grad. and PH.D. courses.

Note: Do feel free to comment if you have any concerns or suggestions for the article. Your comments / concerns will be suitably included in the article.

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Decision making by Women – India

Decision making by women is considered as a yardstick for women empowerment and it is stated that in a patriarchal society women generally donot have decision making powers. It is believed that in a patriarchy, women are treated as puppets and chattels and are typically directed around. In my earlier article titled Child Gender Preference – India, we discussed the gender preferences in so called patriarchal states of India. Let’s analyze the decision making by women in some of these states:

Married Women aged 15-49 yrs who usually participate in household decisions

Area

%

Haryana

81.0

Punjab

75.7

Delhi

74.4

Himachal Pradesh

73.6

Uttarakhand

67.3

Jharkhand

63.5

Chhattisgarh

59.3

Uttar Pradesh

54.2

Rajasthan

42.8

Bihar

41.6

The north-eastern states of India are typically considered as matriarchal societies. The decision making of married women in those states were found to be considerably lower than the patriarchal states:

Married Women aged 15-49 yrs who usually participate in household decisions

Area

%

Meghalaya

69.8

Assam

61.1

Nagaland

56.7

Arunachal Pradesh

46.0

Mizoram

44.9

Manipur

41.6

Tripura

22.8

It would be great if someone could explain me the reasons for this difference in household decision making and as to why women in so-called patriarchal states enjoy a higher decision making power as compared to women in so-called matriarchal states. Or is it that India is ‘not’ a patriarchal society as touted, but infact an ‘egalitarian’ society?

You Decide ….

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Data Source: MoHFW_National Family Health Survey, 2005-2006, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi_2007

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Child Gender Preference – India

In recent past I have read news articles wherein gender ratio is linked to patriarchal societies. This seems to give an impression that patriarchy is a reason for lower gender ratios in states such as UP, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. Let us delve deeper into  the preference of married persons for the gender of their child in these so called patriarchal societies.

Married persons (age 15-49 yrs) who want more Sons than Daughters – %

Area

Mother

Father

Bihar

39.2

38.5

Rajasthan

34.3

24.0

Uttar Pradesh

33.5

27.8

Madhya Pradesh

30.8

27.9

Jharkhand

28.1

24.6

Orissa

24.2

20.3

Gujarat

22.7

20.0

Haryana

22.0

18.4

Uttarakhand

20.7

13.6

Punjab

17.7

13.4

Further, for Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Jharkhand more men want daughters than sons as compared to women.

The above data shows that in the so called patriarchal societies of India it is the womenfolk who prefer sons over daughters as compared to men, and that too over a wide margin. The lower gender ratio in these states could be due to this preference of womenfolk. It would be great to know how come this gender preference of women be related to patriarchy, as claimed…

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Date Source: MoHFW_National Family Health Survey, 2005-2006, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi_2007

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Women in Work Force – Part 3 (short update)

This is in continuation to the earlier posts which can be found here- Part 1 and Part 2.

One of the justifications advanced for women leaving the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. Let us analyze the past years data on Current Weekly Activity Status Approach (cws). According to the CWS approach, a person is considered as a worker if he/she has performed any economic activity for at least 1 hour on any day of the reference week. For details please refer this link.

As per the CWS Approach the number of women participants in the labour force have reduced by 20% from 2004 to 2012[i]

Female-LFPR- current weekly activity status

Male-LFPR-current weekly activity status

Do feel free to comment and hypothesize any other reason for this trend.


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Current Weekly Activity Status (cws) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

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Women in Work Force – Part 2

Shopper

I recently got a response to my article ‘Women in Work Force’, that women are leaving the work force because they need to take care of the children.

The justification seems logical but does not hold merit as –

  • Did women not have to take care of children in 2004? Were women not taking care of children earlier and therefore working and have recently realized over the past decade that they need to take care of children?
  • The proportion of children to the total population of India has reduced in the past decade, implying that lesser women-hours are to be spent on taking care of children now as compared to a decade earlier. Therefore logically their participation in the labour force should have increased as opposed to decreasing.

As per the census of India[i], the proportion of children in the age group 0-10 years has reduced from 26.5% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2011. This means, now more women should have free time as they donot have to take care of the children.

Another justification given for women going out of the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. If we analyse the labour force taking into account the subsidiary economic activity (ss) workers, even then number of women participants have reduced by 20%.[ii]

Female Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Male Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Hence, none of the justifications seem to be backed by facts.


[i] Census of India: 2011 and 2001

[ii] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Activity Status (ps) and Usual Subsidiary Economic Activity Status (ss) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

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India’s Gender Gap

English: A sticker pasted at a house to mark i...

I was recently going through an article in the newspaper which stated that the gender ratio in India worsens with age. The analysis and conclusion of the news report looks intriguing, but on a detailed reading it is found that the analysis conducted by the author of the article was rudimentary.

The article compared apples and oranges therefore giving incorrect conclusions. The premise was that the women in India are discriminated from an early age by way of sex determination methods and gross neglect. Let’s delve deeper into the analysis employed and conclusions derived by the author of the article –

  1. The author took the data from 2011 census which provides Single Year wise gender data for the Indian Population.
  2. Then the author added the difference of men and women for the age groups till 6 years and 15 years and stated that there has been a drop in the population. This drop in population is attributed to female feticide, gross neglect for the girl child and slow death. This implies that the girls die younger and which skews the gender ratio by the time they reach 15.
  3. The thesis above is completely incorrect due to the below reasons –
    • You are comparing the population born in one year with the population born in another year and coming to a conclusion that a few have perished away. An example below will explain –
    Age Population in 2010 Population in 2011
    1 Year 100 105
    2 Year 99 100

    The author has taken the first column and came to a conclusion that by the time the population of age 1 year becomes of 2 years of age, one person dies. This is incorrect as the first column provides the total number of persons who are of age 1 and aged 2 in year 2010. By the time the person of age 1 becomes of 2 years, the year will be 2011, therefore population data for 2011 needs to be compared. In 2011, the number of persons at age 2 years is 100, therefore no one has died till the time they reach 2 years of age. The author of the article has not done such an analysis.

    • The population of India is growing therefore more number of children are born every year, which is shown in the above table for example, in 2010 only 100 persons were born as opposed to 105 in 2011. Therefore comparing persons born in 2011 with persons born in 2010 is bound to give a negative result (ie. Signifying death). When the author of the news report compared the data in 2011 for population of age 1 year with population of age 2 years he is actually comparing population of two separate years.
  4. The conclusion of the author is also incorrect which states that sex determination technique is skewing the gender ratio. In fact the gender ratio has increased over the past 3 decades as shown below[i], implying that sex determination is not as prevalent as suggested by the author of the article.
    Census Year Sex Ratio (Females per 1000 males)
    1991 927
    2001 933
    2011 940
  5. The conclusion that women of India are not cared for and die at an early age is also incorrect and not supported by data. Infact the data shows a picture contrary to this hypothesis due to:
    • Average Life Expectancy of women in India is higher at 65 as opposed to 62 for men. This implies that women live longer and healthier, hence have lower malnutrition[ii] contrary to what is suggested by the article.
    • WHO data shows that deaths due to diseases and injuries for men is 883.2 as compared to women as 788.7 (per 100,000). Hence, women have better access to healthcare as compared to their male counterparts[iii] again something completely contrary to what is stated in the article.The truth is infact the men are missing in India and their death rates increase once they are born. Over 20 Million men are missing from the working population of India based on the data tabulated for the past 15 years. The complete analysis can be found here. Further, the truth about India’s Gender ratio can be found here.

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