Gender and parliamentary representation in India: The case of violence against women and children

Elsevier, Women's Studies International Forum, Volume 82, September - October 2020
Kalra S., Joshi D.K.
To better understand how gender impacts parliamentary representation, we analysed representative claims made by parliamentarians in India, the world's largest democracy. Applying critical frame analysis to plenary debates in the Indian Rajya Sabha, we examined four parliamentary bills addressing violence against women and children under four successive governments between 1999 and 2019. Testing six hypotheses concerning who represents and how, our study found women legislators more active in speaking on behalf of women and children than male legislators. Women parliamentarians focused more on rehabilitating victims and expanding the scope of rights and rights-holders. Women were also more vocal in contesting harassment in the workplace than condemning violence against children. Meanwhile leftist party representatives expressed greater condemnation of violence than most other legislators. Our findings reveal the need to modify parliamentary rules, have more women as political party leaders and parliamentarians, and to adopt a more proportional electoral system.