Describe the approaches to engendering public administration and development

The approaches to engendering public administration and development.

The issue of ‘gender’ has been a late entrant in public administrative studies. Though the Minnowbrook Conference in 1960s did talk of the pertinence of equity, values and social justice, the emphasis on gender issues was not specifically highlighted. In the 1980s, however, women were recognised as an empirical and theoretical area of concern in public administration.

The approaches to women’s empowerment have been undergoing a substantial change. The shift in policy approaches towards women, from ‘welfare’ to ‘equity’ to ‘anti-poverty’, as categorised by Buvinic (1983), to two other approaches, which have been categorised as ‘efficiency’ and ‘empowerment’ has mirrored the general trends in Third World development policies. The equity approach recognises that women are active participants in the development process. This approach meets strategic gender needs and links development with equity. As such, the approaches aim at a redistribution of power (Ostergaard, 1997).

The empowerment approach recognises the triple role of women and views the works of women’s organisations and likeminded groups as a key element of change. It champions the use of a ‘bottom up’ approach to raise women’s consciousness so that they can challenge their status in society. It works on practical gender needs to build a support base in order to address strategic gender concerns. In order to ensure maximum women’s participation in the various schemes launched by the Central and state governments, women must be adequately empowered. Some important measures for their social empowerment are discussed in this Unit.

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1993 have a direct impact on the role of women as they aim at making them more participative in respect of local democracy in both rural and urban areas. This has ensured the political presence of the women in Panchayati Raj bodies and the municipal institutions. They have moved into a position of power, and this has surely enabled them to participate in local government decision making, a sphere that affects their lives the most. It has given them political administrative visibility and the opportunity to learn politics and local governance. Inherently, it has made them aware, conscious and confident. In terms of absolute numbers, (according to the Statistical Abstract, Government of India, 2003), as far as grass roots democratic institutions that is the Panchayati Raj and local bodies are concerned, these Amendments have helped to a great extent.

Out of 475 Zila Parishads, 158 are being chaired by women. At the Block level, out of 51,000 members of Block Samitis, 17,000 are women. About one third of the Mayors of the Municipalities are women. In the Panchayati Raj elections held between 1993 and 1997, women have achieved participation even beyond the mandatory level of 33 per cent of the total seats in the states like Karnataka (43.45 per cent), Kerala (36.4 per cent), and West Bengal (35.4 per cent). Female work participation rate has increased from 22.3 in 1991 to 25.7 in 2001. A slight increase has taken place in their presence in the administrative service, that is from 7.2 per cent in 1997 to 7.8 per cent in 2000. The representation of women in Parliament has also gone up from 7.2 per cent in 1998 to 8.5 per cent in the year 2001.

Saroj Meher

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