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Empowerment or politicization?: The limits of gender inclusiveness of Kerala's political decentralization
Published in Routledge Taylor & Francis Group
Pages: 177 - 191

As Robin Jeffrey notes, the Malayali woman may go to school, read a newspaper, hold a job, but cannot be in politics (Jeffrey 2003: 216). The admirers of the Kerala Model admit to this now, even if only in footnotes (Ramachandran 2000: 115). Recent feminist work has termed this the ‘gender paradox’, which refers to ‘women’s low participation in politics and the public sphere despite high human development’ (Erwer 2003: 130). In the present inquiry, we ask whether the 33 per cent reservation of all seats for women in the newly-constituted panchayati raj bodies in the mid-1990s in Kerala (Isaac and Franke 2000; Mukherjee and Seema 2000) has produced at least the beginning of positive change away from this bleak picture.2 The reservations have brought large numbers of women into the local bodies. A modest increase in their numbers is evident: around 37 per cent of the total.3 Their chances of entry into politics, however, are a distinct issue, not to be lumped with their presence in local governance.4

About the journal
JournalDevelopment, Democracy and the State: Critiquing the Kerala Model of Development
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Open AccessNo