RESERVATION FOR women in panchayats has helped in bringing all-round development to the villages, particularly for children, according to a UNICEF report released on Tuesday. The report comes at a time when a political consensus continues to elude a bill to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament.
Lauding India’s efforts in investing in women’s leadership, the report – ‘The State of the World’s Children 2007’ -- quotes a study in 165 villages of West Bengal, which showed that participation of women in village councils had a positive impact.
In these villages, investment in drinking water doubled, visits by government health workers became more frequent, more girl children started going to school, and the roads showed 20 per cent improvement.
A survey of 100 villages in Rajasthan found that a village having a woman pradhan had more children immunised, saw higher participation of girl child in schools and better health facilities for women.
The UNICEF report, pitching for more women legislators, gives examples from across the world. It says higher women participation in legislatures has improved the welfare of children and women. In Argentina, where 15 per cent of the legislators are women, 78 per cent of the bills related to women issues were initiated by women parliamentarians.
“Issues of importance to women and children may not reach parliamentary agendas without the backing of women legislators,” the report says.
It recommends increased participation of women in politics, although it adds that the majority of people consider men as better politicians.
On India, the report says that the number of women in the Lok Sabha rose to 8.3 per cent in 2004 from 7.3 per cent in 1996 -- but still it is a lot lower than that of neighbours China (20.3 per cent), Pakistan (21.3 per cent) and Bangladesh (14.8 per cent).