Status of women in India

Map of India depicting Female Chief Ministers from the BJP and INC in different states since Independence

On March 8, 2020, the whole world is dancing to the tune of feminine power and strength. This year, the world is celebrating #EachforEqual on International Women’s Day to pledge the ongoing fight against biases and adversities. But in India, we need to do some soul-searching. Although every media house, every product brand and even our prime minister is celebrating #SheInspiresUs, its time to authenticate how women who inspire us are in reality being represented and empowered.

Report: Women in India Beyond International Women’s Day

Here is the first reality check on the status of women holding different offices and recognitions in India.

Status of women in India

This is The Status of Indian Women Beyond Women’s Day

Women in Judiciary

Since the introduction of the Indian Constitution on January 26, 1950, the Supreme Court of India has had 47 astounding Chief Justices of India (CJI) who have rendered historical decisions. However, not a single woman has managed to climb up to the position of CJI so far. The legal system has been predominantly male-dominated since the last 70 and more years. Presently, as per the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, there are 33 Judges in the Supreme Court of India. And out of these 33 Judges, there are only three women Judges.

Current female High Court Chief Justices of India

Map of India depicting Current female High Court Chief Justices of India

The current scenario of women representation in the lower judiciary is more troubling, which requires urgent attention. In India, there are 25 High Courts. Out of these 25, only two High Courts – Jammu & Kashmir and Orissa High Courts are headed by women Chief Justices. The total number of Judges in these High Courts as per March 1, 2020, is 549.

But there are only 61 women Judges in these High Courts (which is like 11% of the total strength).

In eight of the High Courts in Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Telangana, Tripura, and Uttarakhand High Courts, there isn’t even a single woman Judge in India currently.

Table: Strength of Judges in 25 High Courts of India

Nos. Name of the High Court Total No. Of Judges Male Judges Female Judges
1. Allahabad High Court 65 60 5
2. Andhra Pradesh High Court 18 15 3
3. Bombay High Court 52 45 7
4. Calcutta High Court 25 22 3
5. Chattisgarh High Court 11 11 0
6. Delhi High Court 35 28 7
7. Gauhati High Court 15 14 1
8. Gujarat High Court 30 25 5
9. Himachal Pradesh High Court 9 9 0
10. Jammu & Kashmir High Court 9 7 2
11. Jharkhand High Court 16 15 1
12. Karnataka High Court 29 26 3
13. Kerala High Court 27 23 4
14. Madhya Pradesh High Court 31 28 3
15. Madras High Court 46 38 8
16. Manipur High Court 3 3 0
17. Meghalaya High Court 3 3 0
18. Orissa High Court 14 13 1
19. Patna High Court 25 25 0
20. Punjab & Haryana High Court 38 32 6
21. Rajasthan High Court 21 20 1
22. Sikkim High Court 3 2 1
23. Telangana High Court 12 12 0
24. Tripura High Court 3 3 0
25. Uttarakhand High Court 9 9 0
         Total 549 488 61


Source: Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India (as on March 1, 2020)

Besides this elaborate list, no women so far have been appointed as the Attorney General of India. There have been over 15 Attorney Generals of India since 1950.

Women in Police/Military/Armed Forces

Table: Current Number of Women in the three Armed Forces

Has India Failed its Women? This is The Status of Indian Women Beyond Women's Day

Current Number of Women in the three Armed Forces

Table: Rank-wise percentage of women in civil police in India as on 1 January 2019.

Role Total Actual Strength No. of Women % of women
Constable 7,58.958 1,15,918 15.28%
Head Constable 2,80,242 15,807 5.6%
Asst. Sub Inspector 93,430 4,371 4.67%
Sub Inspector 1,09,351 8,795 8.04%
Inspector 31,067 3,105 9.99%
ASP/Dy.SP/Asst. COM 8,943 612 6.84%
Addl. SP/ Dy. COM 1,922 219 11.39%
AIGP/SSP/SP/COM 2,432 294 12.08%
DIG 429 31 7.22%
IGP 462 33 7.14%
Add DG 364 21 5.76%
DGP/Spl DG 141 7 4.96%
      TOTAL 1,287,741 1,49,213


Source: The Bureau of Police Research and Development’s annual report “Data on Police Organizations (as on January 1, 2019),” Ministry of Home Affairs, and Government of India.

Currently, of the 1,56,013 personnel in the CISF, only 8,588 are women.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the most significant paramilitary force in the country for law and order duties, has 2,96,382 personnel, of whom just 7,824 or 2.64 per cent are women.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which has a strength of 80,000 personnel, has 2,000 women among them – a total of 2.5 per cent.

The Border Security Force (BSF) has 2,45,000 personnel, of whom only 5,129 are women, which is 2.12 per cent, while the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is the worst in this regard as it has only 1,817 women in its total strength of 98,000 personnel, which works out to 1.85 per cent.

Women in Planning

Status of women in India

Table: Figures showing recruitment of women in the three Armed Forces in the last three years

In its near 70 years of presence, the Planning Commission of India (before it got disbanded) had 24 Deputy Chairpersons. None of the women could make up to the position of the Chairperson. The Planning Commission largely remained male-centred in the decision-making process. After it was disbanded, the NITI Aayog was established as the Government’s premier think tank. However, we can see the same issue plaguing the Planning Commission persisting in the new think tank too.

Currently, the composition of NITI Aayog is as such – one Chairman, one Vice-Chairman, one Minister of State, three Members and one Chief Executive Officer (CEO). None of the leadership positions has women. Although NITI Aayog has hundreds of women advisers, the higher decision-making process remains male-dominated.

Since the implementation of the Constitution of India in 1950, there have been over 25 RBI Governors so far. But there has been no woman RBI Governor so far.

Women in ISRO

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been doing an incredible job since the last two to three decades. The Space wing has astounding women scientists. However, not a single woman has been able to make it to the position of Chairperson to date.

Women in Finance Commission

Table: Women representation in the Constitutional Body of Finance Commission

Nos.   Commission Chairperson Any Woman

Chairperson

Members Women Members
1. First Finance Comm. 1 No 5 0
2. Second Finance Comm. 1 No 5 0
3. Third Finance Comm. 1 No 4 0
4. Fourth Finance Comm. 1 No 4 0
5. Fifth Finance Comm. 1 No 5 0
6. Sixth Finance Comm. 1 No 4 0
7. Seventh Finance Comm. 1 No 4 0
8. Eight Finance Comm. 1 No 6 0
9. Ninth Finance Comm. 1 No 8 (replacements included 0
10. Tenth Finance Comm. 1 No 6 0
11. Eleventh Finance Comm. 1 No 4 0
12. Twelve Finance Comm. 1 No 5 0
13. Thirteenth Finance Comm. 1 No 5 1
14. Fourteenth Finance Comm. 1 No 5 1
15. Fifteenth Finance Comm. 1 No 3 0
         TOTAL 15 0 73 2


Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is also a Constitutional Body. There have been 13 CAGs since 1948. However, no woman has even made it to the office so far.

Women in Education

Undoubtedly, the Union Government has come up with new schemes to encourage girl child education and to reduce the drop out rates of girls from school. The outcome of these new initiatives will be seen in the upcoming Census of 2021. However, analysing the literacy rate from Census 2011, we can deduce that the female literacy rate of 65.46% is much lower than the total national average of 74.04% and the Male literacy rate of 82.14%.

There are 19 states in India, where the female literacy rate is lower than the total national average. Empowerment comes with the awareness of rights, the confidence to question and make rational decisions. This is possible only when quality education is provided to all.

Currently, under the University Grants Commission (UGC), there are are 41 central government universities. However, only three women have reached the position of Vice-chancellor. They are:

Table: List of present women Vice-chancellors in Central Universities:

No. Name of the Vice-Chancellors Name of the University
1. Prof. Anjila Gupta Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, Bilaspur
2. Prof. Annpurna Nautiyal Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University
3. Prof. Najma Akhtar Jamia Millia Islamia


Not only this, in the history of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), there have been only three women chairpersons. Except for Mrs R.M Bathew, the remaining two – Rajni Rzdan and Alka Sirohi were in the office for a very short time.

Political and Administration Representation

There are 78 women Members of Parliament (MPs) in the current Lok Sabha out of the total 543 seats; this means there is around 14% of women representation only in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, there are 25 women MPs out of the total 238 seats (making around 10.5% of women representation in the Rajya Sabha). The Women Reservation Bill, 2008 has been pending in the Parliament. No political party wants to take up this bill as it is male-dominated. Male MPs see this reservation as a challenge to their seats.

The situation is gruesome in the state legislatures. This is because there are still states in India where we do not have a single woman in the state legislature, Mizoram and Nagaland being examples of such states.

Table: Women in State Assembly

Nos. State/UTs Total No. Of Seats No. Of Women MLAs % of women MLAs against the total seats
1. Andhra Pradesh 175 14 8%
2. Arunachal Pradesh 60 3 5%
3. Assam 126 9 7.14%
4. Bihar 243 28 11.52%
5. Chhatisgarh 90 14 15.55%
6. Delhi 70 8 11.42%
7. Goa 40 2 5%
8. Gujarat 180 13 7.22%
9. Haryana 90 9 10%
10. Himachal Pradesh 68 5 7.3%
11. Jharkhand 81 10 12.34%
12. Karnataka 224 7 3.12%
13. Kerala 140 9 6.42%
14. Madhya Pradesh 230 21 9.13%
15. Maharashtra 288 24 8.33%
16. Manipur 60 2 3.33%
17. Meghalaya 60 4 6.66%
18. Mizoram 40 0 0
19. Nagaland 60 0 0
20. Odisha 147 15 10.2%
21. Punjab 117 5 4.27%
22. Rajasthan 200 25 12.5%
23. Sikkim 32 3 9.37%
24. Tamil Nadu 235 20 8.51%
25. Telangana 120 6 5%
26.. Tripura 60 4 6.66%
27. Uttarakhand 71 5 7.04%
28. Uttar Pradesh 400 43 10.75%
29. West Bengal 294 40 13.6%
  TOTAL    4,001     348   8.69%


At present, there are 28 Governors and 8 Lieutenant Governors in the country. Of which, there are only six women governors and only one woman Lt. Governor. Governors are a constitutional position and hold an immense power at the time of election and government formation and the conduct of the daily activities in the legislatures. Yet, somehow women are again a minimal picture on this canvas too.

Looking at the history of CMs in India, there have been only 16 women so far who have made to the office across 13 states in India.

Status of women in India

Map of India depicting Current female Governors Lieutenant Governors Administrators of India

At present, there are 28 Governors and 8 Lieutenant Governors in the country. Of which, there are only six women governors and only one woman Lt. Governor. Governors are a constitutional position and hold an immense power at the time of election and government formation and the conduct of the daily activities in the legislatures. Yet, somehow women are again a minimal picture on this canvas too.

Looking at the history of CMs in India, there have been only 16 women so far who have made to the office across 13 states in India.

States and Union Territories in India with Female Chief Ministers since Independence

Map of India depicting States and Union Territories with female Chief Ministers since Independence

Currently, there is only one woman Chief Minister (CM) in the whole country. She is Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal.

Status of women in India

Map of India depicting states having current female Chief Ministers of India

In the current NDA government, there are 62 Council of Ministers (CoM), and out of this total number, there are only six women in the CoM (3 – Cabinet, 3 – Minister of State).

Furthermore, only one woman has been appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India out of the total 23 CECs so far. She is V.S Ramadevi. She occupied the office for only 15 days in 1990.

List of Women MPs in Lok Sabha Since the First Lok Sabha

Nos.                Years  Total No. of Seats  Total No. of Women
1. First Lok Sabha 543 24
2. Second Lok Sabha 537 24
3. Third Lok Sabha 540 37
4. Fourth Lok Sabha 553 33
5. Fifth Lok Sabha 553 28
6. Sixth Lok Sabha 557 21
7. Seventh Lok Sabha 566 32
8. Eight Lok Sabha 567 45
9. Ninth Lok Sabha 534 28
10. Tenth Lok Sabha 555 42
11. Eleventh Lok Sabha 551 41
12. Twelve Lok Sabha 546 44
13. Thirteenth Lok Sabha 568 52
14. Fourteenth Lok Sabha 586 52
15. Fifteenth Lok Sabha 560 64
16. Sixteenth Lok Sabha 573 68
17. Seventeenth Lok Sabha 543 78
            TOTAL   9432 713

Women in Panchayati Raj Institution

Coming to the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI). The process of Urban and Local Body Elections was streamlined in the 72nd and 73rd Amendments to decentralise the administration. However, the implementation varies from state to state. There are states which have not implemented the process yet and finds its contradictory to the local customary laws/rules.

Over 20 states have 50% reservation for women in PRI. These states are – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

In 2017, women in Nagaland protested against the conditions laid down by the man not allowing women to contest in the local elections. According to the Naga customary, women are not supposed to contest in the polls. Another problem in the PRI is that, even if there are reservations for women, many scholars have said that women remain the symbolic representation and men continues to make the decisions (whether men in the same household or village). Although a political will was shown, social change has not coincided.

The irony is that if there can be 50% reservations for women in the PRIs, why isn’t there the political will among the lawmakers to pass the Women Reservation Bill which is still in pending?

Among the 78 women, lawmakers present in the Lok Sabha, how many of them can claim they are striving to bring more women in politics and leadership roles, or have taken up the cause of empowering women?

The Cabinet Secretary of India appoints the topmost executive official and represents the senior-most civil servant of the Government of India. Since 1950, there have been 32 Cabinet Secretaries. However, not a single woman has been appointed as a Cabinet Secretariat to date.

There have been so far 19 Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations since 1948. However, of the 19 representatives, no women have been appointed to the position to date.

Yes, Indian women are entering different streams and professions. But this International Women’s Day, let us not fall in the trap of marketing gimmicks. One day of cherishing womanhood is not enough if we do not find our representation in law and order of the country for 365 days. But shockingly, women have been underrepresented in India since Independence. So, when are we going to wake up from this facade we have created and break down the farce of celebrating a woman’s day without actually realising the status of Indian women in New India?

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Has India Failed its Women? The Shocking Status of Indian Women beyond Women's Day
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Has India Failed its Women? The Shocking Status of Indian Women beyond Women's Day
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Its March 8, 2020, and the whole world is dancing to the tune of feminine power and strength. Here we bring you the status of Indian women in Judiciary, Police, Military, Armed Forces, ISRO, Finance Commission, Education, Panchayati Raj Institution, etc.
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