Gender Representation Declines: India Elects 74 Women MPs in 2024, Down from 78 in 2019

India elected 74 women MPs (2024 LS elections), representing 13.63% of the Lower House Picture Credit:

Sakshi Srivastava,

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, India elected 74 women MPs, down from 78 in 2019, indicating a decrease in women’s representation. Despite progress over the decades, achieving gender parity in the Indian Parliament remains a gradual and uneven process.

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New Delhi: In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, India elected 74 women MPs, four fewer than the 78 elected in 2019. This number represents 13.63% of the Lower House, which is significantly less than the 33% that will be reserved for women after the next delimitation exercise. Despite an increase in the number of women MPs since India’s first elections in 1952, when there were only 22, the percentage of women in the Lower House decreased from 14.4% in 2019 to 13.6% in 2024.

Several prominent women MPs, including Hema Malini of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Dimple Yadav of the Samajwadi Party (SP), retained their seats. New faces like Kangna Ranaut and Misha Bharati also captured attention with their electoral victories. Notably, SP’s Priya Saroj, aged 25, secured victory in Machhlishahr, while 29-year-old Iqra Hasan won the Kairana seat, emerging as some of the youngest successful candidates in the elections. The House is set to witness young Dalit women (25-year-old Shambhavi Choudhary from Samastipur in Bihar and 26-year-old Sanjana Jatav from Bharatpur in Rajasthan) raising issues of their respective constituencies.

By Pratap Vardhan,, Source: ECI

Women’s Reservation Bill

The Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, 2023, commonly referred to as the Women’s Reservation Bill, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 19, 2023. It proposes to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women. This reservation will be implemented after the first census following the Bill’s enactment.

Given the delay in the 2021 census, the next census will trigger delimitation to allocate seats for women, and these seats will remain reserved for 15 years.

The Bill also stipulates that reserved seats must be rotated after each delimitation, which is anticipated to occur every 10 years starting from 2026. Additionally, it mandates states to ensure rotational reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes within the reserved seats. Furthermore, the Bill includes provisions for reserving the offices of chairpersons in municipalities, panchayats, and municipal corporations for women.

The primary objective of the Bill is to empower women politically by addressing their historical underrepresentation and promoting inclusivity in decision-making processes at the highest legislative levels.

Monitoring Women Strength in Lok Sabha Over The Years 

In 1952, women comprised only 4.41% of Lok Sabha members. Their representation increased to over 6% in the following decade but dropped below 4% by 1971, coinciding with Indira Gandhi’s tenure as India’s first and only woman Prime Minister. Since then, there has been a gradual upward trend in women’s representation, with occasional setbacks, reaching over 10% in 2009 and peaking at 14.36% in 2019.

According to PRS Legislative Research, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing India’s legislative process through research and transparency, women constitute 14% of the MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha, slightly lower than the 2019 figure of 78 women MPs.

Among these women MPs, 16% are under 40 years old. Additionally, 41% (30 MPs) have prior experience as Lok Sabha members, while one MP has served in the Rajya Sabha. Despite the gradual increase in women’s representation in the Lok Sabha over time, India lags behind several other countries in parliamentary gender balance. For instance, women make up 46% of MPs in South Africa, 35% in the UK, and 29% in the USA, highlighting the global disparity in parliamentary gender representation.

Credit: Sakshi Srivastava/ (Data via PRS Legislative Research)

Decline in Women MPs in 2024 

Source: PRS Legislative Research

Out of the total 543 MPs elected, only 74 are women, marking a decrease from 78 women MPs (14.4%) in 2019 to 13.6% in the current parliament.

An analysis of Election Commission (ECI) data reveals significant regional disparities in women’s representation in the Lok Sabha, reflecting varying levels of gender inclusivity across states. For instance, Chhattisgarh saw over 27% of its MPs elected as women, while West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh exceeded 25%. Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh achieved 20% representation. In contrast, Kerala elected no women MPs, and Uttar Pradesh sent only seven women MPs, constituting a mere 8.75%. Punjab and Assam also reported relatively low female representation.

State-wise fluctuations are evident, with Odisha witnessing a decline from 33% women MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha to 19% in the current term. West Bengal has consistently maintained a minimum of 25% women MPs since the 16th Lok Sabha, reflecting the influence of leadership under a woman chief minister (Mamata Banerjee). Bihar has also sustained a high share of women MPs across multiple elections, while Tamil Nadu reached its peak representation at 12.8%. In contrast, Maharashtra and Gujarat, which previously showed an upward trend in women MPs until the 17th Lok Sabha, experienced a decline in the 18th Lok Sabha.

Examining party-wise distribution, the BJP accounted for 42% of the total women MPs elected, with 31 out of 74. This marks a decrease from 41 women MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha. In contrast, the Indian National Congress (INC) reported declines, with four, six, and 13 women MPs in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Lok Sabha respectively, compared to over 20 in the 15th Lok Sabha.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did not field any women candidates in the 18th Lok Sabha elections, continuing its history of lacking women MPs. Despite significant independent candidacies by women—ranging from 250 to 300 candidates, constituting 30 to 35% of all female candidates—none were successful in securing parliamentary seats. Historically, independent women MPs have been rare, with occasional representation in earlier Lok Sabhas.

The TMC maintained a steady 30% representation of women MPs across the 16th, 17th, and 18th Lok Sabha terms, contrasting with the BJP and the Congress’ fluctuating percentages of 10% to 13% respectively. Parties like the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM), which previously had women MPs, failed to elect any in the 2024 general elections.

Addressing the Roadblocks

The underrepresentation of women in Parliament persists due to both a scarcity of elected women MPs and a limited number of women contesting elections. In the 18th Lok Sabha elections, women constituted less than 10% of the approximately 8,360 candidates. Despite progress, achieving gender parity remains uneven, influenced by multiple factors. Ongoing efforts to bolster women’s political participation aim to narrow this gap and better represent India’s diverse population in legislative decision-making.

Commenting on the current state of women’s representation in the Indian Parliament, Prernaa Singh, general secretary of the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, told, “In the 2024 general elections, the proportion of women MPs in the Lok Sabha decreased to 13.7%, down from 14.3% in 2019. This marks a regression after decades of incremental progress, which is concerning given the long-standing efforts to improve gender representation.”

Regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill, Singh emphasized, “The Women’s Reservation Bill has the potential to bring about significant changes in Indian politics and society. Its success will depend on effective implementation, addressing potential legal challenges, and fostering societal acceptance. By providing a platform for increased female representation, the bill can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable political landscape in India.”

Singh further explained that the bill requires a constitutional amendment, modifying articles 239AA, 330A, 332A, and 334A to incorporate reservations for women. The reservation is subject to periodic review and is initially set for 15 years, establishing a legal framework for assessing its effectiveness over time and allowing flexibility for future amendments based on social and political outcomes.

However, implementing the reservation may encounter legal challenges, particularly concerning the delimitation of constituencies to effectively integrate reservations. The proposed delay in enforcement, tied to the next delimitation after a census, could prompt legal debates on the timing and procedural complexities of the bill’s execution. Additionally, the bill may face judicial scrutiny for its constitutionality and alignment with principles of equality, necessitating the court to address any legal petitions challenging the bill’s provisions or its implementation.

“By reserving one-third of seats for women, the bill aims to enhance female representation in legislative bodies, potentially leading to more gender-sensitive legislation and policies addressing women’s health, education, and safety more effectively. Greater participation of women in politics can inspire more women to engage in public life and aspire to leadership roles, promoting gender equality and empowerment,” Singh added.

However, she cautioned against the risk of tokenism, where women might be chosen merely to meet the quota without being given significant roles or responsibilities. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that women in reserved seats are actively involved in decision-making processes to ensure the bill has a meaningful impact.