For decades, women in India have been largely absent from public life and substantially under-represented in political institutions. As a country founded on the ideals of localized democracy, this has meant that the voices of roughly half of the population have been absent from political dialogue. Research has demonstrated that these absent voices are likely to carry distinct demands, and the inclusion of women in politics leads to different policy outcomes.
While there is much progress still to be made, current trends incite an optimism around a trajectory of increased political and social empowerment for women. In the past several decades, women have ignited change by standing for election, turning out to the ballot boxes at unprecedented rates, and building grassroots movements of women demanding both representation and improved governance.
The current COVID-19 crisis threatens to undo the gains made to women’s social and political empowerment and alter the trajectory of continued gains to gender equality, however.
Author: Soledad Artiz Prillaman