Indian women in politics lauded


India has an impressive record of women’s participation in politics and the success of panchayats has often been referred to as a ‘silent revolution’ within the democratic decentralisation process, a senior US diplomat said here on Friday.

Addressing the students of MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Dr Alyssa Ayres, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia said the Inter Parliamentary Union, (IPU), has noted that women hold 20 per cent of seats in Parliaments worldwide.

The goal should be to reach 50 per cent at all levels by 2050, Dr Ayres said, speaking on the theme, ’Beyond the glass ceiling: women’s empowerment and US foreign policy’.

South Asia, she noted, was “a pretty special region” when it came to electing women to top political positions. “Of course here in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa stands out as an example of a woman politician who has reached the top as chief minister of the state.

India has a good track record of electing women to govern key states”, she said, pointing out that Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi and U.P until the recent regime change, had women CMs.

“These four states account for something like 300 million people, so that is quite a showing”.
The diplomat said the MIT’s poverty action lab studies showed the impressive impact of women’s leadership on policy decisions. “In India, for example, women leaders invest more in infrastructure that is directly relevant to the needs of not just their own gender, but the needs of their communities.

That is the kind of investment that creates sustainable change, and provides better results for all of society”, she said, adding, “according to the World Bank, higher rates of female participation in government are associated with lower levels of corruption; a goal for which we should all strive”.

Lauding India’s panchayat system, Dr Ayres said about 40 per cent of all elected representatives in villages and municipal councils are now women, following the 1993 Constitutional amendment reserving at least one third of seats for them in 2,65,000 village governing bodies.

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