This book presents the findings of an empirical study of the implementation of women’s reservations in four Indian mega-cities: Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. It offers a detailed and lively account of what it means to be a woman Councillor in an Indian mega-city today, and a critical view of the functioning of Municipal Corporations, with specific emphasis on women’s roles and opportunities to participate and perform in their new environment. By choosing to consider the decentralization policy in general and women’s reservations in particular as an experiment in democratization, the authors provide useful and useable insights into a range of issues at stake.To what extent, in what ways and under which conditions can increased political representation of women at the local level empower women? Is the functioning of urban local bodies truly participatory and inclusive? What are the (other) reforms needed to make women elected to urban local bodies more effective agents of urban development?
The first part of the book presents the theoretical, legal, material and institutional contexts in which the implementation of reservations for women must be situated. The second part analyses the empirical findings of the study and reflects on the relevance of gender in urban local self-government. The book thus provides new, concrete data on the question of women’s political representation. It also contributes to the ongoing global debate about the relationships between democracy, inclusive urban governance, social justice and development.