Concept of engendering governance
Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs. It is the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences. Governance encompasses every institution and organization in the society, from the family to the State and embraces all methods – good and bad – that societies use to distribute power and manage public resources and problems.
Women, who represent nearly half of the total population are by and large, excluded from the process of Governance. The institutions of governance are predominantly occupied by males who plan and decide the various economic and social agendas or in other words, manage and control the resources of the country. As a result, Engendering Governance women are not only sidelined but are also neglected in the matters relevant to their own growth and development as well as that of their community and country.
The policies and programmes supposed to be taken for their well- being are, by and large, taken without taking into consideration their needs and requirements. It is with an outsider’s approach that women are expected to be benefitted under the various state-sponsored programmes. This approach leads to one-sided growth strategy for women all over.
By the process of engendering governance, we mean to bring women into the decision making and policy formulation areas with an aim to bring in gender-just governance where women not only get fair participation in the institutions of governance, but also actively take part in the decision making process. Therefore, it may be argued that engendering governance is not something which has to be achieved but is a continuous process whereby women’s voices , concerns are accepted in policy decisions on a regular compulsory basis.
Need for Engendering Governance
The gender gap in governance is evident almost all over the globe. In South Asia, in particular, it is very high despite the fact that many associated nations have been headed by women, who primarily reached the top positions through hereditary succession. Otherwise the South Asian countries have an extremely low representation of women in the management and political positions. As per an estimate, there are only 7 percent women in parliament and 9 percent in cabinet, 20 percent in local governance, 9 percent in civil services and 6 percent in judiciary. This poor representation of women may be seen in the context of subordinate status being accrued to women in all private and public domains namely household, state, market and civil society.
In India, women’s effective participation in politics got a boost in 1992 after the passing of the 73rd and 74th Amendments by the Constitution of India. The change in legislation brought women into the realm of local self governance. The village Panchayati Raj institutions are bustling with women members in local panchayats.
There are examples of women panchayat leaders who have brought forth women’s concerns, issues and problems before the concerned authorities and solutions have been found for the same. However, the journey has not been smooth. It has not been easy for the women to get outside their veils and work in the public domain for the well-being of the community. The women have faced many sociocultural constraints originating out of patriarchy, besides caste and class hierarchies as prevalent in our social system. In the public domain, women’s acceptance has been a major challenge particularly in the context of sharing and transfer of power with male members.
At the outset, innately and environmentally, the women’s needs are different from those of men. The difference originates from the distinct roles played by women in social arenas. The expectations from both the gender groups are different and may be contradictory to each other. Women have been, by and large, excluded from community decision-making on key issues such as housing, credit and infrastructure. It is these areas that affect women’s lives directly. So remaining outside these areas keeps them at the receiving end. The contemporary scenario is marked by increased participation of women in the labour force.
This calls for redefining their roles to suit their changing profiles that have taken place particularly in public spheres. Alongside there has to be created a space for women to participate and learn and bring in reorganization of communities and renegotiation of gender roles. It is important to have a gender perspective on issues of not only as a basic sustenance but also that of general growth and development. These may take place in the form of gender- sensitive policies and programmes that are conceptualized with women’s issues kept in mind.
Women’s concerns revolve around practical issues. Their innovations address a range of issues including housing, health care, service delivery, childcare and other family services, safety, community building and social cohesion in neighborhoods, environmental sustainability and local governance. These initiatives designed from the ground contain the seeds for future systemic change.