As the country celebrates Women's Day on Thursday, data on parliaments across the world reveal that India, the largest democracy, lags much behind other countries including its neighbours such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal when it comes to women's participation in politics.
With only 11% of representation of women in Lok Sabha and 10.7% in Rajya Sabha, India ranks 105th in the world, according to the latest comparative data released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organisation that works for promoting democracy in the world.
India, the world's largest democracy, has only 60 women lawmakers in the current 543-member Lok Sabha, while there are 24 women MPs out of 240 members in Rajya Sabha at present. Two seats in Lok Sabha and five in the Upper House have been lying vacant.
While India shares the 105th position with West African country Cote d'Ivoire, it is ranked 85 places below Nepal and 53 places behind Pakistan. Even China at 60th spot and Bangladesh at 65 are well above India, according to the IPU data that are based on information provided by Parliaments by December 31, 2011.
Only Sri Lanka and Myanmar are the neighbouring countries which are placed below India at 129 and 134 spots in the list respectively.
This sordid picture of women's participation in politics in the country has led women activists to demand greater political representation and call for the passage of the bill that promises 33% reservation to women in Parliament.
Emphasising the importance of Women's Day in the Indian context, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat has said, "This is an occasion to put pressure on government to pass long-pending legislations that would be benefit women, like the Women's Reservation Bill."
All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) general secretary Sudha Sundararaman also said if village panchayats can have 50% reservation for women, then why cannot Parliament have 33%.
"The government should stop paying lip service, and actually put words into action," she said.