Women’s political participation leads to stronger local economies

June 08, 2016
Keenara Khanderia

Under changes to India's constitution, Indian women are gaining a stronger political voice. Legal reforms are encouraging women to contribute to economic growth and investments in community growth. 

A three-year study conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and funded by IDRC looked into how local governments operate. NCAER’s research found that villages with female leaders made investments, such as in water,  that directly benefit the entire community, including the most vulnerable.

The results showed that community participation in local democratic processes can improve the quality of local governance. It also helps vulnerable groups, such as women and low-income families, gain access to resources and welfare programs.

Legal reforms

Changes in key laws, such as the Hindu Succession Act, have benefited Hindu women by providing them with access to assets, such as property rights.  This has increased their potential to participate in the decision-making process, and encouraged them to participate in the local economy.

Reforms have also brought decentralization to India. The transfer of power from national to local governments has allowed for the largest number of elected representatives from villages to the national level. Women as panchayat (local government) heads have had a positive impact on service delivery for the local population.

While the changes to India’s legal agenda promise significant impacts, most of the provisions from the amendments have yet to be implemented.

For more on the report or the papers produced in this project, visit the project website.

For more information on the researchers, visit NCAER’s website.

Working papers produced from the project: