[Answered] Discuss the importance of 73rd amendment act in women empowerment in India.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Provisions for women in 73rd amendment act. Women empowerment through 73rd Amendment Act.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Panchayats have been the backbone of grass-root democracy in the Indian villages since its beginning. 73rdAmendment Act, 1992 introduced the three-tier Panchayati Raj system to ensure people’s participation in rural reconstruction in general and that of women in particular.

Provisions for women in the 73rd amendment act:

  1. The Act provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for the SCs and STs).
  2. Further not less than one-third of the total number of offices of chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women. This would be rotated among different Panchayats at each level.

Women empowerment through 73rd Amendment Act: Women’s experience of being involved with the PRl has transformed many of them. They have gained a sense of empowerment by asserting control over resources, officials & most of all, by challenging men. They have become articulate & conscious of their power.

  1. Political empowerment: The Act provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women. It is an attempt to ensure greater participation of women in election process directly and indirectly. It would be the nursery of creating women politicians for national politics. Even the participation of common women citizens in various activities such as attending Gram Sabha meeting, etc. has reportedly increased (68-78 percent).
  2. Economic empowerment: Women are actively participating in rural development as per their capacity right from labourers to policy-makers. This empower them economically and help them in being independent.
  3. Decision-making: The participation of women as elected as well as non-elected members are rising due to reservation for women. It acts as pull factor for women to participate in meeting. They give their suggestions for various works and problems faced by them. This empower them and enable them to take decisions in different spheres of life.
  4. Raise in voice: Despite their low- literacy level, they have been able to tackle the political & bureaucratic system successfully. They have used their elected authority to address, critical issues such as education, drinking water facilities, family planning facilities, hygiene & health, quality of healthcare & village development.
  5. Empowerment of other women: Women are acting as an agent of change in the society and raising voice against injustice and atrocities. Women role has led to raise of voice by women against domestic violence and other atrocities. Women is being empowered to active participation and awareness of women about their rights and power.
  6. Reduction in violence against women: Domestic violence has substantially declined due to women pradhan or sarpanch. These women representatives take pro-actively take up such violence. The victims also feel free to share their grievances to women representatives.

Some issues in women representation in PRIs

  1. Illiteracy and low education levels of the majority of the women elected to the PR’s.
  2. Women are overburdened with family responsibilities.
  3. Introversion due to the lack of communication skills.
  4. Poor socio-economic background with which the women have come into the system and poor capacity building.
  5. Male family members and also leaders from the caste group/community come in the way of the affairs of the Panchayats.
  6. Indifferent attitude and behaviour of officials working in the system.
  7. Misguidance by the local bureaucracy.
  8. Mounting pressure from the political party which has vested interests in the gender reservation for positions in the PRI system.
  9. Undue interference by the husband (post sarpanch) of women representatives, treating them as mere dummies.
  10. Widespread use of corrupt practices among the male members and local bureaucrats.

With the establishment of PRIs in our country a woman gets an opportunity to prove her worth as a good administrator, decision-maker or a good leader. The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 is a milestone in this regard. It provides women a chance to come forward.  Government should encourage research and development in effective implementation of provisions of 73rd amendment.

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