[Model Answer QP2023 GS2] Discuss the contribution of civil society groups for women’s effective and meaningful participation and representation in state legislatures in India.


Civil society groups have played an indispensable role in promoting women’s participation in Indian political processes, particularly in state legislatures. Through advocacy, awareness campaigns, and capacity-building initiatives, these groups have constantly worked towards bridging the gender gap in Indian politics.

Major Contributions:

1. Advocacy for Reservation: One of the earliest and most persistent demands has been for the reservation of seats for women in legislative bodies. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have played a pivotal role in advocating for the Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women.

2. Capacity Building: Many NGOs and CSOs have been involved in training and capacity-building exercises for women. Organizations like the Centre for Social Research and the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) have held workshops and training sessions to empower women with the skills needed to navigate the political landscape.

3. Awareness Campaigns: Grassroots campaigns by organizations like the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Mahila Dakshata Samiti have educated women about their political rights, the importance of voting, and the significance of political participation.

4. Electoral Support: CSOs have also offered logistical and strategic support for women candidates during elections. They have assisted with campaign management, voter outreach, and message formulation, especially for independent candidates or those from marginalized communities.

5. Research and Data Collection: Civil society groups have been instrumental in gathering data on women’s participation in politics. Reports and studies by organizations like the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have provided critical insights into the challenges faced by women in politics and have fueled further advocacy efforts.

6. Platforms for Dialogue: CSOs have often provided platforms for dialogue between female politicians, activists, and the public. The Women’s Political Empowerment Day celebrations, initiated by the Institute of Social Sciences in 1994, is one such example.

Notable Examples:

1. “100% Voting” Campaign: Initiated by several NGOs in collaboration, this campaign aimed at creating awareness among women about the importance of their votes, emphasizing the fact that their active participation can drive socio-political change.

2. SEWA’s Leadership Workshops: SEWA has consistently held leadership workshops for its largely female membership, many of whom have gone on to hold political office at the grassroots and state level.

3. “Political Shakti”: A non-partisan movement, Political Shakti focuses on ensuring increased representation of women in Indian politics by lobbying with political parties, endorsing women candidates across party lines, and generating voter awareness.

4. NAWO’s Advocacy: NAWO has been proactive in highlighting issues faced by women politicians, from character assassinations to the lack of safety, through national consultations and dialogues, pressing for reforms.


The efforts of civil society groups have been instrumental in amplifying the voices of women and ensuring their meaningful participation in state legislatures in India. While significant strides have been made, the path to equal representation remains long and challenging. The continued activism and dedication of civil society, coupled with political will, can further strengthen women’s role in the Indian political arena.

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