Accepted paper:

Does Presence Make a Difference? Women's Representation in Local Governance Institutions in India

Author:

Pratyusna Patnaik (Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, India)

Paper short abstract:

The paper tries to explore the question of whether women's representation and subsequent participation in the local governance makes a difference in politics.

Paper long abstract:

In India, women's representation in political institutions at the local level has been ensured through affirmative action policies. The presence of women in the Panchayats has facilitated the increase in numerical representation and enabled them to change the myth that women's role and responsibilities are confined to kitchen, farms and household tasks. Notwithstanding the already documented fact that women have less interest, experience and engagement in politics, it can be substantiated that women's presence in democratic local governance has manifold constructive implications. Some of the implications of the presence of women in local level politics suggest that women's issues/interests would be more pronounced and documented with women members more likely to work on issues related to them. In the backdrop of this discussion, the paper tries to explore the question of whether women's representation and subsequent participation in the local governance makes a difference in politics. Do the women members considerably pronounce and document women's issues or interests in panchayats? Further, the paper outlines the overall political attitude and behavior towards women's entry and leadership in local politics. The paper narrates the empirical experiences of the attempts towards feminization of rural politics and the public sphere, and engages with the larger debate of the implication of such feminization for bringing about social transformation in women's personal lives as well as in gender relations. The empirical data were gathered from a field study of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in the Dhenkalal District of Orissa in India.

panel G04
Local and global emergence of women's leadership in a changing world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)