India: 19 state legislatures have less than 10% women lawmakers

New Delhi: Women representation in parliament and most state legislatures across the country is below 15 per cent with 19 of state assemblies having less than 10 per cent women lawmakers, according to a government data.

The state legislatures which have more than 10 per cent women lawmakers are Bihar (10.70), Chhattisgarh (14.44), Haryana (10), Jharkhand (12.35), Punjab (11.11), Rajasthan (12), Uttarakhand (11.43), Uttar Pradesh (11.66), West Bengal (13.70) and Delhi (11.43). According to the data presented by Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju in the Lok Sabha on December 9, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have less than 10 per cent women legislators.

In the recently held Gujarat assembly elections, 8.2 per cent of the elected representatives are women, whereas, in Himachal Pradesh, only one woman has been elected this time.

According to the data, the share of women MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha stands at 14.94 per cent and 14.05 per cent, respectively. At the same time, the average number of women MLAs in assemblies across the nation accounts for only eight per cent.

The question regarding the representation of women MPs and MLAs in Parliament and state legislatures was raised by Trinamool Congress MP in Lok Sabha Abhishek Banerjee, who also asked the Centre about the steps it has taken to increase their overall representation. He further asked whether the government has any plans of bringing the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. To which Rijiju said, “Gender justice is an important commitment of the government. All political parties need to carefully discuss this issue on the basis of consensus before bringing the Constitution Amendment Bill before Parliament.”

Recently, political parties like Biju Janata Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal, Janata Dal United JD(U) and Trinamool Congress have asked the government to introduce and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill afresh in Parliament. “BJD has asked the Centre to pass the bill during the current winter session of Parliament,” Rajya Sabha member Dr Sasmit Patra told. “If the government brings a bill, our party will support it,” he said, adding that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has time and again expressed his commitment to the issue of women’s empowerment.

In a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandopadhyay demanded an all-party meeting on the issue, which was supported by other parties. SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the time has come to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill and give women their due. JDU MP Rajeev Ranjan Singh said it is time to empower women and the government should bring this bill. The bill, which seeks to reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women, was first introduced in Parliament in 1996. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, the bill lapsed.