This book investigates the experiences of women city councilors in India. It follows the careers of women in Jaipur, Rajasthan, who were brought into public office through a gender quota instituted over two decades ago. It reveals how, even in office, women continue to face stigma and normative restrictions imposed by a society not entirely willing to accept them in a public and independent position; and how men, technically blocked by the gender quota from holding office themselves, continue to exert control and influence over women officeholders, even sidelining them in many cases as proxies. The volume also documents the role of these men, colloquially known as parshad-patis, who have uniquely subverted the gender quota without violating any of the formal quota rules. To combat these challenges, the author presents pragmatic approaches to empower women in political offices at the grassroots and highlights the need for a comprehensive support structure to aid gender quota institutions in delivering equality in highly patriarchal environments.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with elected members and their spouses, as well as journalists, women’s rights activists, and student political leaders, this book provides fascinating insights into the everyday politics of India. It will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of gender studies, politics, political processes, and South Asian studies.

chapter 1|23 pages

Parshad-patis and proxies

chapter 2|19 pages

No quick fixes

chapter 3|25 pages

The parshad-patis

chapter 4|28 pages

Demanding a place

chapter 5|43 pages

Entrenched obstacles

chapter 6|18 pages

Moving forward