Gendering the Debates- Question Hour in Indian Parliament

Dr. Jaya Keral

This paper explores how Question Hour can be used as a tool to assess how women’s issues are represented in the Indian Parliament. This paper also makes an impact assessment of the contribution of women in influencing legislation and policy formulation through Question hour in Parliament from 1999-2016. I will argue that the imbalance in representation within the Parliament translates directly into the space and attention devoted to gender issues, and eventually in Legislative policies. I look at what happens when women are marginalized in the women related discussions and queries in the highest legislative body of India. While this paper deals with the study of the nature of questions raised in the Parliament, it also unwraps several thoughts pertaining to gender parity and equality discourse in India.
Through my work, I explore the following issues– Firstly, how is gender constituted within the Questions asked in the Parliament? Secondly, how is the category of ‘gender issues and concerns’ delineated, and within this category, how are women issues represented? Lastly, I examine the gendered nature of the deliberations on these issues. I highlight how women are seen as the ‘other’ in these parliamentary discussions.
An enquiry is done to explore whether these elected women really represent the interest of excluded communities or are belonging to one of them. The focus is on how women representatives participate in the processes of policy making and whether these policies are of women’s concerns substantially. Some reflections are made on the gendered nature of the public space and how some changes in it can make a difference to women as a group.