The persistent under-representation of women in political life and decision making has lead to a “democratic deficit” in India. The discrimination women face hinders them from demonstrating their full potential and excludes them from benefiting equally from development process. The processes of governance must be inclusive and participatory so that all citizens, men and women, have the opportunity to influence the institutions and policies that affect their lives.
It is well established that without gender parity in governance, women's equity and equality cannot be achieved. Currently, in Parliament there are 58 (10.7%) women legislators out of 543 Legislators in the Lok Sabha and 23 (9.5%) out of a total of 243 in the Rajya Sabha. A recent World Bank Development Report titled 'Gender Equality and Development' emphasized the importance of political and economic empowerment of women as a contribution to sustainable growth and responsible government.
Oxfam India Programme
This programme aims to see an increased and effective representation of women in decision-making forums and in governance institutions. Oxfam India enhances the capacity of women to actively participate in the political sphere, contest elections, reduce or remove preventative barriers and to introduce new affirmative steps, such as quotas, to enhance womens participation in state and government institutions.
Expected Programme Outcomes:
• Enactment and effective implementation of Women's Reservation Bill
• National and state level alliances formed for supporting women's leadership
• State accountability for women's rights is ensured
• Women's leadership is accepted and promoted in institutions of government like panchayats, municipalities and legislatures.