Efficacy of female leadership

GS 1- SOCIETY : Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


     Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand;countries that have women heading their governments,managed the pandemic much better than their neighbors. A recent study by researchers in the United States reports female governors acted more decisively by issuing earlier stay-at-home orders.


Women leaders in history of India:

  • Savitribai Phule:Savitribai Phule and her husband were pioneers of women’s education,improving women’s rights and ending social prejudices in India.
  • Rani Lakshmi Bai:brave queen of Jhansi.,her bravery, courage, wisdom, her progressive views on women’s empowerment,her sacrifices made her an icon of the Indian Independence Movement.
  • Anandibai Joshi:was one of the first South Asian female physicians and the first Indian female physician, to be trained in the tradition of Western medicine.
  • Sucheta Kriplani:great freedom fighter of India,got elected to the Constituent Assembly,sang the national song Vande Mataram in the Independence Session,hold a position of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1963.
  • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit:was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post,served as the president of the Indian National Congress twice,India’s ambassador to Russia,governor of Maharashtra,woman president of the UN General Assembly.
  • Justice Anna Chandy:“first generation feminist,”first woman in her state of Kerala to get a law degree,first female judge in India,first female judge in an Indian high court by the Kerala High Court on 1959.
  • Sarojini Naidu:‘The Nightingale Of India’,an active participant in India’s struggles,first Indian woman President of the Indian national Congress,became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Captain Prem Mathur:the first woman pilot in India.
  • Kalpana Chawla:an Indian-American astronaut and the first Indian woman in space,one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
  • Charismatic female leaders like Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Sushma Swaraj and Mamata Banerjee among several others.
  • Over the last few years, more women have taken up science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) courses and are aspiring to enter the workforce.

Current Female Representation:


  • Female representation in the current government:-not very far from the typical gender composition in Indian central and State governments. (only about 10% of the total ministerial strength.)
  • Also reflected in the fact that Ms. Banerjee-only female Chief Minister.
  • Just over 14% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha.(the 2019 election sent the largest number of women to the Lok Sabha.)
  • Rank of 143 out of 192 countries reported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
  • Rwanda comes out on top with a staggering 60% of seats in its lower house.
  • Nordic countries (Scandinavia, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands) are leaders with an average of about 40%.
  •  The UK 32%,the US-23%.

Suffrage to women:

  • Women were allowed to vote from 1950 onwards.
  • Participate on an equal footing with men from the first general election of 1951-52.
  • In US-women were allowed to vote in 1920.
  • Countries in Europe also achieved universal suffrage during the inter-war period, enabled opportunity to show that females were adequate substitutes in activities that were earlier the sole preserve of men.
    • mitigated the anti-female bias and earned women the right to vote in European countries.

India’s gram panchayats:

          Women perform significantly better than men in implementing policies that promote the interests of women.

  • Study by Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo:- used the system of mandated reservations of pradhans in gram panchayats to test the effectiveness of female leadership.
    • 1993 amendment of the Indian Constitution-mandated that all States had to reserve one-third of all positions of pradhan for women.
      • villages chosen for the mandated reservations were randomly selected
      • subsequent differences in investment decisions made by gram panchayats
      • attributed to the differences in gender of the pradhans.
    • study concluded that pradhans invested more in rural infrastructure that served better the needs of their own gender.
      • easy access to drinking water

The women’s Bill:

  • Since women running for elections face numerous challenges
  • It is essential to create a level-playing field through appropriate legal measures,the establishment of quotas for women.
  • Attempts have also been made to extend quotas in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies through a Women’s Reservation Bill.
  • The Rajya Sabha pass the bill in 2010, the Lok Sabha and the State legislatures are yet to give their approval despite the 24 years that have passed.

Way Forward

  • Reserving say a third of party nominations for women.
    • major party constituents can sidestep the logjam in Parliament
    • Will result in increasing numbers of women in legislatures and subsequently in cabinets.
  • Increased female representation in policy making.
    • Will Improve perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles.
    • increase in the percentage of female politicians contesting and winning elections.


     There is no, one size fits all strategy as women in rural and urban areas have very different issues therefore there needs to be separate policies for different regions.

     If women’s workforce participation in India is realized to its full potential and given India’s demographic dividend, it can easily achieve the target of $5 trillion economy.

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