Opportunities and challenges of women’s political participation in India

Publication Subtitle

A synthesis of research findings from select districts in India

Publication year


Publication Author

Nandita Bhatla, Sunayana Walia, Tina Khanna, Ravi Verma

This series of reports highlight the findings from an ICRW study that was conducted as part of a UN Women program titled “Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia.” ICRW researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 elected female and male village leaders as well as collected qualitative data from other stakeholders to determine whether the local governing bodies – Panchayati Raj Institutions – are platforms where gender issues are raised, discussed and acted upon.

The study finds that there is a sharp disconnect between the frequency with which women privately raise gender issues – especially domestic violence – with their representatives and the frequency with which those issues are brought to the table during panchayat meetings. Traditional attitudes among both women and men elected leaders around domestic violence contribute to it being perceived as outside the realm of public and political discourse. Yet, there is perceived space and commitment to discuss such issues, as a small but not insignificant proportion of elected representatives raise them in meetings.
The reports make an important contribution to the discourse on gender responsive governance, and include recommendations to make local governing bodies more responsive to women’s needs and concerns.