In prehistoric days women enjoyed a distnguised position in Indian society. History also has witnessed women leaders like Maharani Laxmi Bai and Razia Sultana. In recent past we feel pride in the deeds of Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf All, Vijai Laxmi Pandit and the last but the last but the most important leader of most important leader of Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali, Vijai Laxmi Pandit and the but the most important leader of post- independence period Smt. Indira Gandhi.
But fifty years of independence have done little for the weaker but finer sex. Immersed in superstition and oppressed by custom, confined within the four walls of the house, seeing little of the world and knowing little of it dark relegated to the dark abyss of literacy and economic deprivation, Indian woman has been waiting too long for the dawn that will be hers. The statistics are depressing. 1991 census shows female literacy at 39 percent against 64 for males. 80 percent of female workers are in unorganized section where exploitation of their labor and chastity is rampant.
In political field the situation is still worse. In the tenth Loke Sabha there were only 39 parliamentarians of the opposite sex in a house of 525. 450 million Indian women were represented by only 39 M.P.s. In fact, during fifty years of independence or a period of adult franchise the female representation has never crossed a mark of 10%. The eleventh Lok Sabha destined to see India into the 21st century represents no different image from the former ones there being only 36 women parliamentarians i.e. 7.07% of the total strength.
Despite so much lip service for so many years to the cause of women what else can be expected in country where Indira Gandhi the first lady Prime Minister of India, who was proclaimed as the ONLY MAN in the cabinet by political commentator Nikhil Chakravaty could not contribute even a little for the cause of her gender.
When she was catapulted to power in 1966 there were 34 women in parliament. Five years later when she led her party to spectacular victory the first the number of women members of parliament came down to 22 only. So why blame men alone. Insecurity does not allow the women leaders to identify leadership at the grass root level. In politics when men propose, they themselves dispose. Myths are created to keep women out of the house. In male dominated society political parties have been lamenting the obvious lack of availability of eligible trained and winnable women candidates. This is not true.
In these days of scam ridden politics, the increasing role of money and mafia in elections keeps most of the women away from politics. There is more money than ever before in politics. Hence the reluctance of men folk to allow women to have their share in the booty is finding manifestation in increasing violence and vulgarity against the fair sex. This intimidates women and consequently they prefer to stay out of politics.
But they have the grit and a firm determination to keep knocking the doors of the elusive house. And how long can embarrassment to keep at bay. Half of India’s vote bank cannot be evaded for ever with the increasing consciousness among the fairer sex and their proved ability in administrative.
Judicial and business circle as also in the field of politics, the political gurus are under compulsion to appease female voter. A constant assurance of reservation of 33% of seats in the parliament and state assemblies is a talk of the day. Assurances are being given to present a bill for the propose in parliament. All party chiefs are theoretically unanimous on the point. Women M.P.s are crying and pressing hard for the presentation of the bill. It is yet to be seen for how long the wishes of the half franchise can be ignored. Let us sincerely hope that in the next general elections our women folk get their long deserved right and due quota for their representation in the ruling bodies and that reservation issue does not remain a mere political and election stunt the political parties.