Participation of Women in Panchayati Raj: A Historical Perspective
Panchayati Raj plays a formidable role in enhancing the status of women in India during postIndependent times. In the colonial regime, women were not given adequate opportunity to involve and participate in the affairs of local bodies. However, in the 19th century, women gradually participated in the Panchayati Raj bodies when they were formally included in the electoral roll. During post-independent Era, due to the implementation of the Ashok Mehta Committee (1978) recommendation, National Perspective Plan, and 30 percent reservations seats for women in panchayats, there has been a substantial increase in women’s participation at all the levels of the Panchayati Raj bodies. Subsequently, the 72nd Amendment Bill and the 73rd amendment introduced in our parliament recommended 33 percent quotas for women. Encouraged by this, women have come forward in an ever-increasing number to join hands with the activities of Panchayat Raj Institution.
Consequently, Central and State Governments encouraged women by implementing the 73rd constitutional amendment in 1993 (adding Article 243D and 243T), which also extended the privilege of seat reservation for SC/ST women in the local bodies. Due to this positive impetus, there has been a perceptible improvement in women’s participation in the last two decades. Due to unrestrained encouragement, the participation of women in Panchayati Raj is highly effective; thus, across India, more than 26 lakhs of women representatives got elected in PRI. This paper attempts to delineate the gradual growth of women’s participation in the Panchayati Raj Institution in various states in India.
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