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A Project Work On WOMEN AND LAW





ROLL NO. 125

6th APRIL, 2017


Raipur, Chhattisgarh

I, RAHUL MANDAVI, hereby declare that, the project work entitled, 'WOMEN
record of an original work done by me under the guidance of Ms Madhurima De Sarkar,
Faculty Member, H.N.L.U., Raipur.

Batch XIII
Roll No. 125

Thanks to the Almighty who gave me the strength to accomplish the project with sheer hard
work and honesty.
I would like to sincerely thank my faculty of Women and Law, Ms Madhurima De Sarkar for
giving me this topic and guiding me throughout the project. Through this project I have
learned a lot about the aforesaid topic and this in turn has helped me grow as a student.
My heartfelt gratitude also goes out to the staff and administration of HNLU for the
infrastructure in the form of our library and IT lab that was a source of great help in the
completion of this project.


STATEMENT OF PROBLEM....................................................................5
RESARCH QUESTIONS............................................................................5
SCOPE OF STUDY.....................................................................................5
RESAERCH METHODOLOGY.................................................................5
GENDER INEQUALITY ............................................................................6
WOMEN POLITICAL WINGS.................................................................10
WOMEN'S VOTING RIGHTS..................................................................11


The term 'political participation' has a very wide meaning. It is not only related to 'Right to
Vote', but simultaneously relates to participation in: decision making process, political
activism, political consciousness, etc. Women in India participate in voting, run for public
offices and political parties at lower levels more than men. Political activism and voting are
the strongest areas of women's political participation. To combat gender inequality in politics,
the Indian Government has instituted reservations for seats in local governments.

Women turnout during India's 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared
to 67.09% turnout for men. India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of
women in Parliament. Women have held the posts of president and prime minister in India, as
well as chief ministers of various states. Indian voters have elected women to numerous state
legislative assemblies and national parliament for many decades..
1.1 Statement of Problem
Discrimination against women is rampant all over the world even in this 21st century.
Patriarchal societies in most countries are adept at exploitation as well as victimization of
women. Even though about 50% of the worlds population consists of women, but
unfortunately most of them are denied basic rights education, freedom of speech, voting
power and even independent identity. Thats why women empowerment is necessary all
over the world.

1.2 Research Questions

To study about women's political participation and their right to vote

1.3 Scope of Study

The scope of this project is limited. In this project I stated women political participation
in Indian context with special reference to right to vote given by government to
empower the women

1.4 Research Methodology

The research methodology applied is Doctrinal one, where all the referred material have
been taken from various resources such as, cyberspace and legal data-bases, and no
practical or field work has been done. It will involve secondary data such as various
Acts, Rules and regulations, Judgements, Articles, Published Reports, Books and

Gender inequality leading to deprivation of power among women continues to be a political

reality in India today. Women are perpetually excluded from decision-making at every step of
the ladder, starting from the household to the top layer of policy making. Although the
Constitution of India attempts to remove gender inequalities by interdicting discrimination
based on sex and class, and enshrining fundamental rights for all citizens, women still have
only de jure rather than de facto access to these rights.
There is no denying the fact that greater participation of women in the political process would
be a pre-condition for their economic and social emancipation. However, even though a
significantly large number of women vote in the country, yet only a few of them assume the
reins of power. Paradoxically, though women have held the posts of President and Prime
Minister as well as Chief Ministers of various states in India, the country ranks 20th from the
bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament, as per the World Economic
Forums Global Gender Gap Report 2012.
To remedy the low participation of women electors, India in 1994 established quotas
(reservations) vide the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments to reserve 33 per cent of the
seats in local governments for women. The Womens Reservation Bill (108th amendment)
has also been introduced in the national Parliament to reserve 33 per cent of the Lok Sabha
seats for women, but the bill is yet to be passed. It is believed that though increasing the
number of women in national government may not guarantee an impact on governance, a
critical mass of women in power can bring about transformation in leadership.
A heartening outcome of the reservation bill is the subsequent rise in political participation by
women, which went up from 4-5 per cent to 25-40 per cent among women, and gave millions
of women the opportunity to serve as leaders in local government. A few states like Odisha
established reservations even before the 73rd amendment and they had 28,069 women elected
in 1992 and 28,595 women in 1997.
The robust health of Indias democracy is also reflected in the increasingly large turnouts of
women voters in progressive elections at both the national and state levels in the country. In
the 2012 elections to Legislative Assemblies, for instance, Uttar Pradesh reported a turnout of
58.82 to 60.29 per cent of the female voters. The states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala,
Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and
Puducherry also reported higher turnouts among women than men in the 2013 Vidhan Sabha
elections (Election Commission, 2013). The turnout of women during India's 2014
parliamentary general elections was 65.63 per cent, only marginally less than the male
turnout of 67.09 per cent. In 16 out of 29 states of India, more women voted than men. This
increased female participation was observed in both the rich and poor states in the country.
However, this enthusiastic participation in elections does not ostensibly translate into
proportionate electoral power for women. In contrast to the encouraging figures pertaining to
women voters, the statistics on womens participation in Parliament and Legislative
Assemblies, on the other hand, present a grim picture. The recent Assembly elections in four
states and one Union Territory bear witness to this fact more resoundingly than even in the
past. Despite the remarkable showing by the two women Chief Ministers in West Bengal and
Tamil Nadu in these elections, Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha, respectively, there was no
significant rise in the number of women MLAs in any of the five Assemblies, which now
have a female strength of merely 81 out of the total number of 823 MLAs, representing less
than 10 per cent of the total legislators. This includes 8 women out of 126 MLAs in Assam,
21 out of 234 in Tamil Nadu, 40 out of 293 in West Bengal, 8 out of 140 in Kerala, and 4 out
of 30 in Puducherry.
The figures at the national level are equally dismal. Table 1 depicts an overview of
participation of women in the Lok Sabha (lower house) and in the Rajya Sabha (upper
house). The participation of women in the Lok Sabha has, in fact, never exceeded 12 per cent
since Independence. The proportion of women Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok
Sabha has increased by only 6 percentage points over the past six decades. In the Rajya
Sabha, it has been almost constant at 7 percent of the total seats, with the exception of the
1991 election where it rose to 15.5 per cent. In the 2009 election, only 59 women MPs were
elected for a total of 543 seats, and this figure went up by merely 2 to touch 61 in the 2014

The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary system of government, and guarantees

its citizens the right to be elected, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and form
associations, and vote. The Constitution of India attempts to remove gender inequalities by
banning discrimination based on sex and class, prohibiting human trafficking and forced
labor, and reserving elected positions for women.
The Government of India directed state and local governments to promote equality by class
and gender including equal pay and free legal aid, humane working conditions and maternity
relief, rights to work and education, and raising the standard of living. Women were
substantially involved in the Indian independence movement in the early 20th century and
advocated for independence from Britain. Independence brought gender equality in the form
of constitutional rights, but historically women's political participation has remained low.
The movement for womens suffrage began in the early 1900s in response to a national
movement for suffrage, even though vast majority of neither men nor women had a right to
vote the British colonial rule before 1947. After Indian independence from Britain, the Indian
Constitution in 1950 officially granted women and men suffrage. Prior to universal suffrage,
provincial legislatures had granted women the right to vote
Madras was the first to grant womens suffrage in 1921, but only to those men and women
who owned land property according to British administration's records. Other legislatures
followed shortly after, but like Madras, the political rights were granted by British Raj to
select few, and the London appointed Governor of each province had the right to over rule
and nullify any law enacted by the elected men and women. The rights granted in response to
the movement towards suffrage were limited to qualifications of literacy and property
ownership, including property ownership of husbands. This excluded vast majority of Indian
women and men from voting, because they were poor. This changed in 1950 when universal
suffrage was granted to all adult Indian citizens.
In 1950, universal suffrage granted voting rights to all women. This is enshrined in Article
326in our constitution. India is a parliamentary system with two houses: Lok Sabha (lower
house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house). Rates of participation among women in 1962 were
46.63% for Lok Sabha elections and rose to a high in 1984 of 58.60%. Male turnout during
that same period was 63.31% in 1962 and 68.18% in 1984.
The gap between men and women voters has narrowed over time with a difference of 16.7%
in 1962 to 4.4% in 2009.
Voter turnout for national elections in the past 50 years has remained stagnant with turnout
ranging between 50 and 60%. State elections have seen a growing trend in women's
participation, and in some cases women's turnout is exceeding male turnout. Increased
turnout of women was reported for the 2012 Vidhan Sabha elections (legislative/state
assemblies) with states such as Uttar Pradesh reporting 58.82% to 60.29% turnout. In the
2013 assembly elections, womens overall turnout was reported to be 47.4%, and male
turnout was 52.5%. Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya,
Mizoram, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry all reported higher turnouts among women than
men in 2013.
Increased participation is occurring in both rich and poor states in India. The sex ratio of
voters has improved from 715 female voters for every 1,000 male voters in the 1960s to 883
female voters in the 2000s. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought to increase
voter turnout by cleaning up electoral rolls and removing missing or deceased members.
Voter outreach has included door-to-door voter registration, and in 2014 elections, voters will
be issued a photo id with polling station information to increase voter turnout. Increased voter
turnout in India is also partially due to the women voters. ECI has sought to encourage voter
registration among women and participation through education and outreach on college and
university campuses. Growing participation has also been attributed to increased security at
polling stations.

India has a multi-party system with the 24 registered parties at the national level. The three
largest parties in India are the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), and the Communist Party of India (CPI). Political parties have increased outreach
among women voters as India's party system has become more competitive. This has
included the creation of women's wings in the largest parties. The BJP's wing is the BJP
Mahila Morcha, the INC's wing is All India Mahila Congress, and the CPI's wing is the
National Federation of Indian Women.

Women's involvement in political parties is tied to the increasing demand for equal rights.
The INC held power until the 1990s. As the INC moved away from welfare politics, other
parties arose to challenge the INC using poverty as the center of their agenda. The INC
regained power in 2004 with the help of women's participation. The INC has increased
women's participation by instituting a 33% quota for women in all levels of the party. In June
2009, the INC nominated a woman to become first speaker of Lok Sabha, and also supported
the election of Pratibha Patil, India's first female president. Women were involved in the
early establishment of the BJP. The BJP has encouraged greater representation of women by
developing women's leadership programs, financial assistance for women candidates, and
implementing a 33% reservation for women in party leadership positions. BJP has received
women's support by focusing on issues such as the Uniform Civil Code to extend equal rights
to women and men regardless of religion. They have also spoken out against violence against
Indian women. The CPI has also supported gender inequality issues including addressing
issues of violence through the National Federation of Indian Women.

Women's participation in political parties remained low in the 1990s with 10-12%
membership consisting of women. Indian women have also taken the initiative to form their
own political parties, and in 2007, the United Women Front party was created, and has
advocated for increasing the reservation of seats for women in parliament to 50%. Women
only govern four of India's political parties. From 1980-1970, 4.3% of candidates and 70% of
electoral races had no women candidates at all. As of 2013, it has been reported of the
members of parliament 11% were women in Lok Sabha and 10.6% in Rajya Sabha.

We nd that the sex ratio of voters which is dened as the number of women voters to every
1,000 men voters, increased very impressively from 715 in the 1960s to 883 in the 2000s.
The fact that more women are voluntarily exercising their constitutional right of adult
suffrage across all states in India is testimony to the rise of self-empowerment of women to
secure their fundamental right to freedom of expression. This is an extraordinary achievement
in the worlds largest democracy with 717 million voters of which 342 million voters are

Travelling to history, When Lord Edwin Montague, Secretary of State for Foreign Policy
India, came to India to join the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford to survey the political scene with a
view to introduce constitutional reforms. Indian women saw an opportunity to demand
political rights. This led to the foundation of the Womens Indian Association (WIA) in 1917
by Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins and Dorothy Jinarajadasa, all three Irish women
Theosophists, who had been suffragettes in their own country. A Memorandum signed by 23
women from different parts of the country, demanding votes for women on the same terms as
men which would enable them to have a say in political matters was submitted to Montague
and Chelmsford. The Indian National Congress at its session in Calcutta in 1917, over which
Annie Besant presided, supported the demand of votes for women and so did the Muslim
League. The Southborough Franchise Committee toured India in 1918 to gather information.
It accepted womens petitions but was initially reluctant to grant the franchise to women as it
felt that Indian women were not yet ready for it. The Joint Parliamentary Committee of
Parliament finally agreed to remove the sex disqualification but left it to the provincial
legislatures to decide how and when to do so. Travancore-Cochin, a princely state, was the
first to give voting rights to women in 1920, followed by Madras and Bombay in 1921. Other
states followed. Franchise was of course extremely limited. Women could vote only if they
possessed qualifications of wifehood, property and education. The Government of India Act
of 1935 increased the number of enfranchised women and removed some of the previous
qualifications. All women over 21 could vote provided they fulfilled the qualification of
property and education. Women also became legislative councillors. In the elections held in
1926, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya stood for the Madras Legislative Council elections from
Mangalore but was defeated by a narrow margin. Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy was the first
woman to become legislative councillor in Madras in 1927. Women had to wait till after
independence to get universal adult franchise.

Constitutional Guarantee:

The constitution of india guarantees to all women, equality [article 14]; no discrimination by
the state [article 15 (1)]; equality of opportunity [article 16]; equal pay for equal work [article
39(d)]; renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [article 51 (a) (c)] the
constitution also allows the state to make special provision in favor of women and children
[article 15(3)]; and securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief [article

Women politicised the domestic sphere with the support and encouragement of nationalist
leaders, and many significant activities were undertaken from within the domestic sphere.
Womens political action should not be limited to supporting mens political aspirations.We
nd that systematically the gender bias in voting is being reduced, over time and across all
states of India. Womens participation at higher decision-making levels is still limited and
needs to be expanded if the practice of democracy is to be consistent with its theory and

Paradoxically, political representation does not have any direct correlation with literacy or
other related parameters. This is indicated by a comparison of female political participation in
Kerala and Rajasthan, which lie at two opposite ends of the literacy bandwagon, with the
female literacy rates being 92 per cent and 53 per cent in Kerala and Rajasthan, respectively,
as per the 2011 Census. Although the women in Kerala enjoy greater freedom of movement
along with cultural and educational advantages, this has not been converted into political
participation. Even the proportion of women in the state assembly is only marginally higher
at 11 percent in the present Assembly in Kerala as compared to 7 per cent in Rajasthan.

One of the key challenges faced by women is lack of education which hinders their political
involvement. We recommend bridging this gap by providing quality education to women in
the country. Awareness about their rights and privileges as mentioned in the Constitution can
only be ensured once women are appropriately educated. The issue of gender-based violence
and provision of safety and security of women should also be addressed on a priority basis to
promote gender equality in the social and political arenas. Although the Government of India
has initiated the National Mission of Empowerment of Women in 2014 with the broad
objective of gender empowerment, the progress of this project is not up to the mark. It is thus
imperative to strengthen its functioning and implementation. In addition, there is need for
capacity building of prospective women leaders by imparting leadership training to the
female members of political parties.