India has a good track record of women's political participation and the success of panchayats has often been referred to as a "silent revolution" within the democratic decentralisation process, a senior US diplomat said.
Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia said according to the Inter Parliamentary Union, (IPU), women hold 20 per cent of seats in Parliaments worldwide and the goal should be to reach 50 per cent at all levels by 2050.
"India has a good track record of electing women to govern key states - at one point (until the change of government in Uttar Pradesh), India had four women Chief Ministers in absolutely key, strategic states -- U.P., Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal," she said.
"These four states account for something like 300 million people, so that is quite showing," she said, speaking on 'Beyond the Glass Ceiling.'
Noting that women account for only 18 per cent of members of South Asia's legislatures as of 2011, up from more than 13 per cent in 1995, she said, "unfortunately, the US is no exception."
The diplomat said according to the World Bank, higher rates of female participation in governments are associated with lower levels of corruption.
Lauding India's panchayat system, she said approximately 40 per cent of all elected representatives in villages and municipal councils are now women, following the 1993 Constitutional amendment reserving at least one third of seats for them in 2,65,000 village governing bodies.
"In fact, Kerala has taken this step further by upping the reservations to the 50 per cent mark.....The success of India's panchayats has often been a referred to as a silent revolution within the democratic decentralisation process," she added.
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