NGO trains 1,000 women to join politics


New Delhi : In an initiative that aims to encourage more women to join politics, an NGO is training 1,000 women across the country as part of a project whose core strategy is “train, contest and win”.

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Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR) whose initiative this is, said: “We need more women in politics. And it is essential to train potential leaders as well as encourage the ones who are successful at the local governance level to enter the state assemblies and Parliament”.

CSR’s project, the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDF), has been implemented at three different levels.

At level one, women are being prepared and motivated to contest elections for the state legislatures and parliament.

At the second level, advocacy and lobbying with political parties to increase seats for women within parties and lobbying for passage of the bill to receive 33 percent of seats in parliament and state legislatures is being undertaken.

Finally at the third level, the lessons learnt from the projects are being shared with South Asian partners to build stronger foundation for democracy in South Asia.

“At the end of the project, capacities of women across India will be enhanced to contest elections. Political parties will be made aware about this pool of trained women. Key political parties shall be encouraged to ensure voluntary quotas within parties to ensure gender balance,” Kumari said.

Women who have participated in the programme are generally those who have been in leadership roles. Therefore, academicians, those working in NGOs, in the media and trade unions have participated in the programme. Special emphasis has been given to women in panchayati raj institutions.

According to Kumari, women make up 48.26 percent of India’ s population but comprised only 44.2 percent of all voters in the 2004 general elections. Only 9.2 percent of the Lok Sabha’s elected representatives and 8.6 percent of the Rajya Sabha’s elected representatives are women. Also only two out of 32 Indian cabinet ministers and six ministers of state are women.