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Journal of Politics and Governance
Year : 2014, Volume : 3, Issue : 4
First page : ( 15) Last page : ( 24)
Print ISSN : 2278-473X. Online ISSN : 2456-8023.

‘Proxy women’ or empowered politicians: Democratic decentralization & Panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in rural india

Chakraborty Tanusree, Mukhopadhyay Ishita

Women's Studies Research Centre, University of Calcutta, Kolkata

Online published on 27 June, 2017.

Abstract

Women in India constitute about fifty percent of the country's total population but they have been treated discriminatory because of the gender bias of the prevalent patriotic values of Indian society. The dominant patriarchy has denied women equality of status and opportunities in socio-economic and political spheres. During the last fifty years, several attempts have been made to bring about effective decentralization, both political and economic, with limited success. Objectives of this paper are to explore the extent to which PRIs have contributed towards change in the position and status of women in India and whether they have been actually empowered or do they live in the same state of subordination and deprivation as earlier. The study was conducted on the basis of case studies related to women in Panchayat in different states of India. The study revealed that mere presence of women is not necessary synonymous with their participation, there is a difference between formal power and effective power. The point that is raised for some cases is analytically posing the dichotomy between seat reservation as an instrument of development for gender equality and women's empowerment and formal power and effective power to achieve this goal. The coexistence of obstacles and possibilities for elected women tends to picture the elected women either as ‘proxy women’ or as empowered politicians.

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Keywords

Grassroots Democracy, Gender, Local Governance, Elected women, Effective power, Proxy women, Panchayati Raj Institution, Women's Empowerment, India.

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