Participation of Women & Youth in State Assemblies
● Data analysis of recently elected state assemblies which are West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, show that fewer numbers of women and youth are being elected as members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
● Data on youth representation in India: The country’s median age is 29. The average age of a directly elected Lok Sabha (LS) member is 55. Indirectly elected Rajya Sabha members are still older, average age 63.
Without youth participation, political systems cannot be representative of all parts of society. Discuss in context of challenges faced by youth in the political system and suggest some measures
Importance of Youth participation in formal political processes:
● For political systems to be representative,all parts of society must be included. When young people are disenfranchised or disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect group members’ lives.
● In new and emerging democracies, the inclusion of young people in formal political processes is important from the start.
● In countries where young people have led protests that have forced authoritarian regimes from power, they are likely to feel significant frustration if they are not included in new formal decision-making procedures. This can destabilize democratization and accelerate conflict dynamics.
Reasons for Less participation of youth in Politics:
● Financial Constraints: Increased costs for candidate nomination and campaigning and the lack of political finance regulations make it even more difficult for youth to start a political career.
● Social and cultural traditions: In most societies, politics has been for centuries a domain of older, often male and wealthy citizens, a situation that has resulted in the systematic exclusion of young people from political debates and decision-making.
● Distrust in political institutions: A growing number of citizens (including young people) have little trust in formal political processes, political institutions and leaders, perhaps because they feel they are not representative of their interests.
● Party politics: Political parties are the gatekeepers of elected positions and decide who will be placed on their candidate lists and at which position. Political parties’ nomination processes have not always favoured young candidates, as they are often placed in low positions on candidates’ lists, with very limited possibilities to get elected.
Reasons for Less participation of Women in Politics:
● Household and marital barriers: Generally, women in India experience varying degrees of exclusion because they are forced to succumb to the societal norms of marriage and motherhood.
● Lack of political knowledge: Most of the women are unable to participate in politics due to the fact that they don’t possess adequate knowledge for the same.
● Safety issues: Women, most of the time, don’t feel safe to work outside because of the safety issues.
● Socio-cultural norms and traditional structures: Another set of obstructions is presented by the entrenched social and traditional structures that create certain patterns of disempowerment and privilege like caste, gender, religion, sexuality, disability, and many more.
● Political Parties: They tend to ignore the hard work of women party workers, who work at the grassroots level, setting aside most of their time, performing tasks like door-to-door campaigning, community networking, and that of organization.
● Lack of incentives or role models: It is also due to the fact that women are not given enough incentives to participate in the electoral process. Lack of awareness and incentives leads to low women participation.
Initiatives by Government:
● The Women's Reservation Bill 2008
● Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions:
● National Youth Parliament Festival
● National Youth Parliament Scheme
● Awareness about the importance of voting: Participation of young people and women in formal political and electoral processes is relatively low compared to citizens across the globe.
● Quotas for youth: Laws can be passed to provide quotas for young candidates. These could be in the form of either seat exclusively (and rotationally) reserved for youth or a specified proportion of young candidates all registered parties contesting an election must field.
● For women participation to increase, the implementation of the Women Reservation Bill must be passed at the earliest.
● Promote inner-party democracy: Female and young leaders will rise through the party ranks, assert themselves in party fora, and lay stronger claims on party tickets.
● Civil society organisations and the media can play an important role in educating young people and women about the issues involved and their high stakes in the fruits of development.