Beforethe 73rd Amendment Act the system of reservation of seats for womenin local bodies was introduced by many States on their own manner. Thisreservation system was varied from State to State, the range of variation being10% in Madhya Pradesh to 33 and half percent in the case of West Bengal.
Karnataka was the first State who followed the provisions of 73rdAmendment Act followed by Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura.TheAct provided a base to women to represent the half world politically(world’salmost half population are women). This reservation system is not an end initself, but only a mean to an end and the end being extensive involvement ofwomen who constitute nearly 50% of the total population in the India, thepolitical decision-making process at local level and effective implementationof empower programmes for women and child development programmes with theiractive participation.The73rd Amendment is an attempt to introduce progressivedecentralization.
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The Act legalized the total of 2, 54,426 village councils inthe country. As one third of the seats are reserved for women, this in effectmeans that it provides for the exercise of decision-making power by an averageof1,039,872 women representatives at village level, 58,328 women representativesat intermediate level and 5,821 women representatives at district level.Further, as the Act also ensures that one-third of the positions available aschairpersons in all the three tiers are reserved for women, it means thosewomen head 83960 Village Panchayats, 2119 intermediary councils and 207District councils. The73rd Amendment makes a historic beginning for the effectiverepresentation of women in decision-making process at the local level.
Beforereservation there was merely 4.5 percent women were in this area, which afterreservation has gone up to 40 to 50 percent. These Facts shows that a largernumber of women have participated in the local bodies’ election and thissignifies a very encouraging trend for the women’s empowerment at grass rootlevel. Though it has taken time for women to improve their numerical strengthand increase active participation in the rural and semi-urban areas, but theresult have been truly shaking up. Asper the Fifteenth Anniversary charter onPanchayati Raj, “Today more than 26 lakh representatives stand elected tothe three levels of Panchayats.
Of these, over 10 lakh are women. The lastfifteen years of Panchayati Raj have thus succeeded in empowering marginalizedgroups who have gained political representation and valuable experience. Manyof them have successfully taken on the challenge of governance and broughtabout enduring social change through their close links with the community.”8Womenalways prioritize issues like health, education and access to basic servicesand especially able to ensure a significant change in living conditions for theentire community. The efforts and work of several women representatives inPanchayats of various states have been widely acclaimed.Politicalempowerment in the form of participation in decisionmaking process at variouslevels of political activity is also very important in a democratic country.Since 1994, 33% seats have been reserved for women in the elections to urbanand rural local bodies, i.e.
municipal bodies and village panchayats. As aresult of this about one million women at grass root level have receivedpolitical power. At first it was noticed that those women who were electedcould not act on their own but were mere puppets in the hands of their menfolk.
Secondly, male members of panchayats did not accept these women asequals, leave alone work under them if they happened to be the Sarpanch. Butgradually women have learnt to assert themselves, use their power for the goodof the community and show achievements. Devaki Jain writes, ‘No one evenremotely anticipated the level of commitment displayed by the women who enteredpolitics as a result of 33% percent reservation at Panchayat and municipallevels.
The emergence of these women disproved the ‘belief that women are not’available’ for politics. Many of them won in non-reserved constituencies too.They have shown that they know what power and politics is all about, howeverilliterate or ignorant of governance, they may be having tested power, they areunlikely to give it up.9Inconclusion, we may say that the 73rd Amendment Act introduced a newdimension for the women in political life, where they can give identity to herselfor their leading and representation abilities.After the evaluation of the abovementioned data we have find some impacts of 73rd Amendment Act onWomen representation, conclusively they are following-· The Act brought outwomen strength from the kitchen into competition of politics and administrationwith no pre-training and experience whatsoever in public life.· It brought women in therole of participant in decision-making process.· This Act made aremarkable presence of women in PRI’s, according to an estimate, there is morethan one million women in all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
· The representation of womenin PRI’s shattered all the prejudice of the society like women have no interestin politics or to undertake all the other work that is require in politic payprocess.· Women have gained asense of empowerment by asserting control over resources and officials.· Women have chosen issues like health, education and access to basicservices are differing from the traditionalpolitical platform. For exampleShushmaBhadu,a women Sarpanch of Jind districtresolve to save the girl child and launched an initiative “BetiBachaoAbhiyaan”, which was followed by the Indian Governmentand lounched “BetibachaoBetiPadhaoYojna”.· The sheer numbers ofwomen representatives in Panchayati Raj Institution that have been brought intothe political system by the one third reservation under the 73rdAmendment Act made a significant difference, both qualitative as well asquantitative.· There are manyconstraints like lack of experience, family responsibility, cast and genderdomination and lack of an enabling environment even after that womenrepresentative are increasing in numbers at each and every level of government.· The Act has given a newdimension to the process of rural development in India by providing reservationto women.
· The reservation inPanchayati Raj provided them an opportunity to raise their grievances and otherrelated socio-economic problems in formal forum.· This Act motivated thewomen to involve in the political process of the country.· After the Amendment Actthe voting percentage and ratio of women increased respectively.· The empowerment ofwomen at grass root level inspired women to participate at higher levelpolitics so the representation of women in State Assemblies and LokSabha alsoincreased respectively through the years.· Women participating inelections more than the reservation, this is showing the real empowerment ofwomen.
· The participation andrepresentation of women in politics and decision making process respectivelyincreasing day by day.· Participation inpolitics also inspired women to do something new and better in other field ofsociety.Inthe end, we can conclude that the above mentioned indicators are good for thedemocracy and for the women empowerment, but there are many questions remainsyet to rise and yet to answer. Reference1. White, L. D. (1926).
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