Empowerment condition for good governance. Equality between sexes is

 Empowerment of women in today’s era is a
quintessential condition for good governance. Equality between sexes is also
becoming an upcoming global political parameter. However the biggest setback is
the social construction around gender distinctions. Though
the constitution provides women the right to be elected in political and public
representative institutions, such as parliament and local government bodies,
gender inequality, as a collection of interlinked problems, is manifested in
the political arena too(Husain S. A, 2000).

In
this context, there have been vivid debates on the linkage between “good
government” and “gender equality” over the past decade (Morna,
2002).Hussain asserted that the sustainability of the economic and social
empowerment of women depends on the extent of their integration in the
political decision-making process (Husain and Siddiqi, 2002). Political
participation of women becomes a parameter of the availability of political
rights to women. Until women participate actively in all levels of decision
making, equality and development in the country is elusive. The famous thinker
John Stuart Mill had stated that for the government to be efficient, the voices
of both majority and minority has to be heard. For him women formed the
minority at that time.

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Gender
equality means no discrimination and special measures need to be taken for the
upliftment of women but not every differentiation can be said to be
discriminatory. Discrimination is de jure when it is envisaged by law,
de facto when although the law is non-discriminatory, discrimination exists in
practice (FAO legislative study, 05)

 

In
On Liberty, Mill discussed ways to represent and articulate competing
interests, and emphasized the importance of tolerating different views from
different quarters (Reynolds, 1999, 547-8). In “Considerations on
Representative Government”, Mill talked about bringing intellectual diversity
in the government by including women extending them franchise. In The
Subjection of Women, Mill stated that the idea of denying suffrage to half of
the population and thus losing their talents in society was “non
utilitarian idiocy”(Reynolds, 1999, 547-8).Rule and Zimmerman argue that a
parliament would fail to recognize or comprehend issues of great importance to
women in society if there were few women members, an observation which raises
broader questions of answerability, openness, and isolation (Reynolds, 1999,
547-8). It was observed that A balanced representation of women and men at all
levels of decision-making guarantees better government (The European Network of
Experts, 1997, 8).

 Television, radio, and newspapers should help
policy-makers and administrators realize the importance of gender inequality
and also work to stimulate women to reorganize their roles and affirm
themselves as the equal partners of men in all sectors ( Haque, 2003,
586).Further the onus rests on the government to open up opportunities for
women and safeguard their legal rights. It requires the active involvement of
the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

 

2. Role of women in politics

As a group, women have their own ideas and values making a
distinct behavioural pattern given their specific history. Their participation
will further will give a new dimension to the exercise of power.
Women are less individualistic and hence are able to maintain good contact with
others. Lister has pointed out that policy institutions and policy processes
must be representative of women, as women hold specific interests that are
different from men’s (Lister, 1997, 154)

Chowdhury
offers five reasons why increasing women’s representation and participation is
necessary: (i) It is a question of democracy and equality as well as a question
of civil rights making the demand for proportional representation of women in
politics unavoidable, (ii) Women’s insignificant presence in politics raises
questions about the legitimacy of the democratic process and of decision-making
authorities, (iii) Women are well informed and experienced about their basic
problems and needs. But they will be deprived of equal shares if they are not
properly represented in politics, (iv) Women’s increased participation in
politics and decision-making bodies will facilitate more changes and open up
more spaces for them, (v) Finally, for the efficient and maximum utilization of
human resources, women should be increasingly allowed in politics (Chowdhury
,1994, 21).

Democracy
will be in question if women, constituting half of the population, remain
absent from the different institutions of a society (Haque, 2003,
584).Therefore we see that women participation is very important to legitimize
the government. To understand gender issues more vividly in India, it is very
important to shed some light on the decision making opportunities in every
institution and the gender gap that persists . Assumptions regarding the
division between private and public worlds strongly limit the participation of
women in decision-making institutions (Nussbaum , 2003, 5).Be it the private
domain or the public domain , it is men who always exercise an upper hand and
try to either patronize or criticize what women has to offer.