Gender lacuna refers to the gaps and differences in the study of gender and political science, specifically in comparative politics.
Despite the close observation of women's narratives, perspectives, and experiences in gender studies, there is a substantial gap in the inclusion of women's representation in politics within comparative literature.
Reasons for this gap include the lesser acknowledgement of women's movements, limited study and importance given to women's rights in comparative political literature, conditioning of women's voting behavior, limited participation in decision-making despite being elected, lower education levels impacting voting behavior, different needs and priorities of women, preference given to male candidates in political parties, ambivalent conclusions regarding women's voting behavior, traditional gender roles limiting opportunities, and lesser encouragement for women to participate in politics.
The gender lacuna in political representation of women needs to be observed and analyzed considering the lower participation and representation of women in politics.
Gender Lacuna in Comparative Politics
The study of gender in politics has received less attention from mainstream scholars and has often been overlooked as irrelevant to politics.
Gender-based research is often considered a subfield rather than an integral part of the mainstream subject of political science.
Gender studies have not been widely recognized as a legitimate theoretical approach in the study of politics, and the role of women in democratization processes has been overlooked.
Despite research on democratization, there is a lack of focus on gender and women's participation and experiences.
Gender lacuna in comparative politics requires greater emphasis to understand the process of democratization and the marginalized position of women in politics.
This study aims to address the gender gap in comparative politics and incorporate the role of women in the democratization process.
The Gender Research and Democratization
The approach to understanding the gender lacuna and the integration of women in mainstream comparative politics has led to a widening gap.
Mainstream scholars consider gender studies as a subfield and overlook the relevance of gender to politics.
The definition of gender tends to be overlooked in the study of democratization, despite its contested nature.
Women's rights have been overlooked in certain democratic regimes, and their mobilizations and struggles have been neglected.
The elite focus in democratization inhibits the role of women, but questions should be asked about why certain individuals become political elites and why others do not.
Elite reforms and decision-making are influenced by mass mobilizations, where women's participation is significant.
The low status of women in Islamic countries reflects the low status of democratization, with patriarchal culture playing a central role in the struggle for control.
Gender equality can be worsened in democratic states, as women's political power and roles can be limited or marginalized.
Women's movements have unique features that require specific attention and analysis, separate from non-gender research.
The unique position of women in the political system may require a gender analysis, but it can also be examined from a non-gender perspective.
Gender Lacuna: Achievements and Challenges
Political scientists, including gender scholars, have been associating themselves with comparative politics as a subfield due to its lack of hegemonic agenda and interest in new areas of research.
Gender research has been given less importance in comparative politics literature, possibly due to the focus on gender as a separate issue rather than mainstream.
The fear of "engendering" the subfield has been observed, but analyzing gender as a dependent or independent variable can provide greater understanding.
Researchers should consider global developments and specific country findings, as well as explore how gender intersects with other areas of research.
The study of gender in comparative politics includes analyzing women's mobilizations, political parties, elections, public policy, and the influence of gender norms on state policies.
Challenges include defining gender, addressing intersectionality, expanding beyond developed nations, and expanding the definition of the political to include informal structures.
Comparative analysis in gender lacuna requires collaboration and understanding of the intersections between gender and politics.
Political Representation: Women in Government and Politics
(i) Political Participation and Knowledge
Informed citizens are more likely to participate in politics.
The level of knowledge among participants is questionable.
(ii) Women's Participation in Politics
Despite gaining the right to vote in liberal democracies in the 1920s, women are less likely to vote than men.
Women's participation in politics has increased since the 1980s, but male voter turnout remains higher.
Men dominate political organizations and hold high positions in developed and developing nations.
Reasons for lower women's participation include limited visibility in politically enhancing professions, lack of confidence, and gendered institutions that favor men.
(iii) Mechanisms to Increase Women's Participation
Reserved Seats: Parties reserve seats for women candidates in proportion to their votes, allocating more seats based on the number of wins.
Party Quotas: Parties adopt quotas for women, and other parties follow suit to avoid falling behind.
Legislative Quotas: Validated by law, this mechanism is followed by all political parties and is prevalent in Latin America.
(iv) Challenges and Flaws
Women's representation often falls below the allocated quotas.
Implementation of quotas and party/state encouragement of women candidates impact the effectiveness of quotas.
Male dominance in politics is rarely challenged.
(v) Impact of Women's Representation
Women are increasingly elected as heads of state or office.
Women in cabinets challenge male hegemony in politics.
However, women are often assigned to "soft" fields rather than key areas like finance, defense, or foreign policy.
United States of America and Women Political Participation
Women's Representation in the United States
The United States has 17.1 percent women's representation in politics, ranking 68th globally.
Despite being a democratic state, the country does not guarantee equal rights between men and women.
Gender Gap in Political Behavior and Public Opinion
A gender gap exists between formal laws and cultural norms.
Women tend to vote more conservatively than men.
Scholars attribute the gender gap to factors such as economics, socialization, and politics.
Changes in women's attitudes can result from structural conformation and post-industrialization.
Gender Gaps and Public Policy
Women expect the government to address issues like unemployment in the public sector.
The gender gap extends to women's jobs, democratization, and family structure.
The sexual division of labor shifts within the family structure, but gender equality may be lacking when women join the workforce.
Women, Democratization, and Leadership
Comparative studies on women and democratization reveal gaps in supporting women's rights and democracy.
The perception that men make better leaders than women is still prevalent worldwide.
Recent examples of women leaders, like Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, challenge traditional notions and demonstrate strong leadership.
India and Women Political Participation
India guarantees political rights to every individual, irrespective of caste, class, sex, or religion.
Adult suffrage has made democracy participatory in India.
Despite illiteracy and orientalist arguments, India has made efforts to include every citizen in the democratization process.
Women's representation in political offices and schemes for upliftment have been guaranteed.
Increase in Women's Representation
Women's representation in the Indian Parliament has increased in recent years.
The first Lok Sabha elections had only 5 percent women representatives, while the sixteenth Lok Sabha witnessed a rise to 11 percent.
Attempts to reserve seats for women in the legislature, like the women reservation bill, faced opposition but aimed for at least 33 percent reservation.
Women's Representation at the Village Level
The 73rd amendment Act mandates one-third of seats to be reserved for women in village panchayats.
However, challenges exist where men and their family members continue to dominate decision-making in villages.
Role of Political Parties and Electoral Systems
Political parties play a crucial role in nominating or electing women representatives.
Candidate selection takes into account factors such as party structure, caste, religion, and social structure.
Regional political parties have minimal data on women selection, while larger political parties dominate.
Encouraging Women's Participation
Some groups have established women's political organizations within political parties to encourage women's participation.
Certain Indian states have enhanced reservation policies to promote women's participation, such as Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.
Gender-related Schemes by the Indian Government
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter) launched in 2015 to address the sex ratio and promote education for girls.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana launched in 2015 to promote education and savings for the girl child.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) launched in 2014 with a focus on providing hygienic sanitation facilities for women.
Mahila E-Haat launched in 2016 to promote women entrepreneurs and provide them an online marketing platform.
Other gender-related schemes include Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra, among others.
Importance of Gender Lacuna Study
Gender lacuna in politics is an under-researched area but vital for understanding women's representation in different countries.
It involves studying the level of support from the state and policymakers, traditional norms shaping women's political behavior, and the role of women mobilizations.
Comparative study on gender lacuna is limited as a subfield and lacks consensus.
Feminist Approaches and Mainstreaming Women
Feminist approaches aim to uplift women from marginality and bring them to the mainstream.
Examples from different nations show that developed countries may fail to prioritize women's representation, while developing nations may have higher women legislators.
Women's Impact in Politics
Women tend to question more on economic issues and have excelled in foreign affairs, finance, and welfare policies.
Despite strong and dominating state structures, women candidates thrive in some nations.
Thorough Comparative Political Analysis
Comparative political analysis is essential to understand why women's representation is low and ensure the success of the democratization process.
An inclusive approach considering intersectionality can address the gender lacuna and enhance women's representation.
Enhancing Women's Representation
Political analysis provides a framework for identifying solutions to increase women's political representation.
Intersectional analysis and addressing gender gaps can contribute to enhancing equality in politics.