New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) A caucus of women political leaders across party lines should enhance women's participation in political parties and advocate for the Women's Reservation Bill in a collective voice, participants at a conference organised by the UNDP said.
For affirmative action to happen, mobilisation of women around an integrated development agenda was crucial. This was one of the key recommendations at a roundtable on women's participation in politics organised by the United Nations Development Programme, a statement said Friday.
In discussion with MPs, social activists and grassroots leaders, UN Under Secretary General and UNDP associate administrator Rebeca Grynspan said: "There is much to be celebrated in India. There are over one million elected women representatives in local self-governments, thanks to mandatory quotas ranging from 33 to 50 percent.
"Yet there are only around 11 percent women in parliament, lower than the global average of 20 percent, still far from the 30 percent target set at Beijing."
Grynspan added: "More diverse participation in politics is not only good for women but is key for society and a strong democracy."
Ranjana Kumari, president of Women Power Connect and Director of Centre For Social Research, said: "I am hopeful the bill will indeed be passed by the current government."
Participants pointed out that women were held back from entering politics because of social norms and deeply entrenched patriarchal mindsets.
India ranks 129 out of 147 countries on UNDP's Gender Equality Index, lower than all South Asian countries except Afghanistan at 141.
One of the key factors pulling down India's rank on this index is the low level women's representation in parliament.