Telangana, the newest state in Southern India, finally has women ministers in the state’s council of ministers for the first time in its history. In a recent cabinet expansion, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR as he is popularly known)  inducted P Sabitha Indra Reddy and Satyavathi Rathod as Education and Women and Child Development Ministers respectively.

In his first term soon after the state’s formation in 2014 and subsequently after his re-election in December 2018, KCR was criticised for appointing an all male cabinet. Despite women playing a pivotal role in the people’s movement for a separate Telangana state carved out of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, they were excluded from governance and decision making in the state’s polity.

Women now constitute 12% of Telangana’s council of ministers (CoM)- still a long way off  from a minimum 33% reservation and upwards of 50%, that women in India have been advocating for, in various political and administrative institutions.  Exclusion of women from the highest institutions of power, governance and decision-making across India is uniform across the country and systemic.

Of the 529 ministers across 28 states in India, only 41 are women- a mere 7.8%, according to a BehanBox analysis of countrywide data on women ministers. This is a marginal increase from 7% in 2015, when we carried out a similar analysis. Today, there is one woman Chief Minister- Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal in contrast to 3 in 2015. Women from marginalised communities- Scheduled castes, Tribes and Muslim women find fewer opportunities to hold power.

There are 7 states in the country with no women ministers in their council of ministers. Jharkhand (20%) has the highest and Bihar (3%) has the lowest proportion of women ministers in the state’s council of ministers.

Only 10 states in India have more than 10% women ministers

The dismal representation of women in ministerial councils is uniform across India.  Only 10 of the 28 states ( excluding Jammu and Kashmir which has no Government currently) have more than 10% women in their state council of ministers. Jharkhand (20%), Tripura (14%) and Tamil Nadu (13%) are the states with the highest proportion of women ministers.

Among the states that have more than 20 ministers in their council of ministers, Tamil Nadu (13% ) has the highest proportion of women, followed by Andhra Pradesh (12%) and Odisha (10%).

Source: Data collated by Behanbox from various state government websites

[Image Description: A stacked bar chart showing the proportion of women ministers for states having more than 20 members in their CoM in descending order.
Tamil Nadu- 13%, AP- 12%, Odisha-10%, West Bengal-9%, Uttar Pradesh & MP-7%, Maharashtra and Gujarat-5%, Rajasthan-4% and Bihar 3%.]

For states with smaller council of ministers (less than 20), Jharkhand has the highest proportion with 20% women, followed by Tripura (14%) and Punjab (13%)

Source: Data collated by Behanbox from various state government websites

[Image Description: A stacked bar chart showing the proportion of women ministers for states having less than 20 members in their CoM in descending order.
Jharkhand- 20%, Punjab & Uttarakhand- 13%, Telangana-12%, Kerala & Himachal Pradesh-11%, Goa-9%, Chhattisgarh and Haryana-8%, Assam and Karnataka 6%.]

Women in cabinet positions are still inadequate

9 states- Haryana, Assam, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and West Bengal- have a separate cabinet within the CoM. Cabinet ministers are senior ministers in the state’s council of ministers heading a department.

Haryana has the highest proportion where women form 13% of the 8 member cabinet, followed by Assam and Odisha which have 9% women.

Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which have a 24 member cabinet have mere 4% women. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttarakhand have no women with cabinet rank. In West Bengal, apart from Mamata Banerjee who is the chief minister and holds several ministries, there are no other women ministers in its 26 member cabinet.

Source: Data collated by Behanbox from various State Government Websites

[Image Description: A stacked bar chart showing the proportion of women minister with a cabinet rank in states with separate cabinets in descending order.
Haryana- 13%, Assam and Odisha- 9%, Maharashtra and UP-4%, Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP & West Bengal -0%]

Delhi and 6 other states have no women in their council of ministers

It is 2019 and there are still states within India that have no women in their council of ministers. The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi headed by Arvind Kejriwal is one of them. Other states that do not have women ministers are Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya- all in North East India. The union territory of Puducherry has no women ministers either.

Women ministers still kept away from ministries other than women and child welfare

In most states where women do find a place in the council of ministers, they are mostly in charge of the Women and Child welfare department (WCD)- a key ministry for conceiving and implementing policies for women and children in the states. 14 of the 41 women ministers across India hold the WCD portfolio.

Maharashtra which has only 2 women ministers in its 42 member ministry- Pankaja Munde with a cabinet rank and Vidya Jaiprakash Thakur( Minister of State) are both part of the WCD.

However, state administrations are not inducting enough women to head other important ministries.

Andhra Pradesh is the only state which has a woman deputy chief minister from the Scheduled Tribe community- Pamula Pushpa Srivani. It is also the only state where a woman, Mekathoti Sucharitha, from the Scheduled Caste community holds the Home portfolio apart from West Bengal where the chief minister Mamata Banerjee is in charge of Home and Hill Affairs department. United AP had a woman Home minister earlier when the former chief minister Y.S.Rajashekhar Reddy appointed P Sabitha Indra Reddy- the current education minister of Telangana- to head the department in 2009.

Some other notable exceptions where women hold portfolios others than WCD are Tamil Nadu and Telangana where Razia Sultana and Sabitha Reddy head Education respectively, Jharkhand where Dr. Louise Marandi is in-charge of Human Resource Development and Goa where Jennifer Monserrate heads the Revenue department.

Kerala is the only state with a woman health minister- KK Shailaja Teacher, who steered the state through the Nipah virus crisis.

Among the 4 women ministers in UP, 3 of them are involved in various aspects of education. Kamala Rani Varun is heads the Technical Education department with a cabinet rank while

Gulab Devi and Neelima Katiyar are state ministers in the Higher and Secondary education departments.

Fewer women ministers from marginalised communities 

Of the 41 women ministers, BehanBox was able to identify only 6 women ministers each belonging to the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes (ST) communities based on their constituencies.

Those from the ST communities are Pramila Rani Brahma (Assam), Pamula Pushpa Srivani (Andhra Pradesh), Dr. Louise Marandi (Jharkhand), Padmini Dian (Odisha), Sandhya Rani Tudu (West Bengal) and Satyavathi Rathod (Telangana).

Mekathoti Sucharita( Andhra Pradesh), Imarti Devi (Madhya Pradesh), T Rajya Laksmi (Tamil Nadu), Rekha Arya (Uttarakhand), Asima Patra (West Bengal) and Mamta Bhupesh (Rajasthan) belong to the SC communities.

Only 3 Muslim women hold ministerial berths across India- Razia Sultana (Punjab), Nilofer Kafeel and Razia Sultana (Tamil Nadu).

A full list of women ministers in different states is below:

Table: Full list of women ministers in all states

State Name of the Woman Minister Rank Portfolio
Andhra Pradesh Pamula Pushpa Srivani Cabinet Minister Deputy Chief Minister
Minister of Tribal Welfare
Andhra Pradesh Taneti Vanitha Cabinet Minister Women and Child Welfare Minister
Andhra Pradesh Mekathoti Sucharitha Cabinet Minister Home
Disaster Management
Assam Pramila Rani Brahma Cabinet Minister Social Welfare
Soil Conservation
Bihar Bima Bharati Cabinet Minister Sugarcane Department
Chhattisgarh Anila Bhediya Cabinet Minister Women & Child Development
Social Welfare
Goa Jennifer Monserrate Cabinet Minister Revenue
Information & Technology
Labour & Employment
Gujarat Vibhavariben Vijaybhai Dave Minister of State Women and Child Welfare
Education(Primary and Higher Education)
Haryana Kavita Jain Cabinet Minister Art & Cultural Affairs
Women & Child Development
Urban Local Bodies
Information, Public Relations & Languages
Himachal Pradesh Sarveen Chaudhary Cabinet Minister Urban Development Minister
Jharkhand Neera Yadav Cabinet Minister women and child
Jharkhand Louise Marandi Cabinet Minister HRD
Karnataka Jolle Shashikala Annasaheb Cabinet Minister Women and Child Development
Empowerment of differently Abled and Senior Citizens
Kerala Mercy Kutty Amma Cabinet Minister Minister for Fisheries
Harbour Engineering
Traditional Industries
Kerala KK Shailaja Teacher Cabinet Minister Minister of Health
Social Justice
Madhya Pradesh Imarti Devi Cabinet Minister Women and Child Development
Madhya Pradesh Vijaylakshmi Sadho Cabinet Minister Culture Department
Medical Education
Ayush Department
Maharashtra Pankaja Munde Cabinet Minister Women and Child Development
Maharashtra Vidya Jaiprakash Thakur Minister of State women and child welfare
Odisha Tukuni Sahu Cabinet Minister Women & Child Development & (Mission Shakti)
Odisha Padmini Dian Minister of State Textiles, Handlooms & Handicrafts
Punjab Aruna Chaudhary Cabinet Minister Social Security Women & Child Development
Punjab Razia Sultana Cabinet Minister Water Supply & Sanitation (Public Health)
Rajasthan Mamta Bhupesh Minister of State Women and Child Development Dept. (Independent Charge)
Public Grievances Redressal Dept.
Minority Affairs Dept.
Waqf Dept.
Tamil Nadu T.Rajyalakshmi Cabinet Minister Minister for Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare
Tamil Nadu Razia Sultana Cabinet Minister Water
Higher education
Tamil Nadu Nilofer Kafeel Cabinet Minister Minister for labour
Tamil Nadu V Saroja Cabinet Minister Minister for Social Welfare
Nutritious Noon Meal Programme
Tamil Nadu S Valarmathi Cabinet Minister Minister for Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare
Telangana Sabitha Indra Reddy Cabinet Minister Education
Telangana Satyavathi Rathod Cabinet Minister ST Welfare
Women & Child Welfare
Tripura Santana Chakma Cabinet Minister Social Welfare & Social Education
Animal Resource Development
Uttar Pradesh Kamala Rani Varun Cabinet Minister Technical Education
Uttar Pradesh Swati Singh Minister of State Women’s Welfare, Child Development
Uttar Pradesh Neelima Katiyar Minister of State Higher Education
Science and Technology
Uttar Pradesh Gulab Devi Minister of State Secondary Education
Uttarakhand Rekha Arya Minister of State Women’s Welfare & Child Development
Animal Husbandry
Sheep & Goat Rearing
Fodder & Pastoral Development
Fishery Development
West Bengal Sandhya Rani Tudu Minister of State Backward Classes Welfare
West Bengal Ashima Patra Minister of State Backward Classes Welfare
West Bengal Chandrima Bhattacharya Minister of State Housing (Independent Charge) & Panchayats and Rural Development
Health and Familly Walfare
Land and Land Reforms & Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation
West Bengal Ratna Kar Ghosh Minister of State Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises & Textiles (Excluding Textiles and Handloom)

Source: Data collated by Behanbox from various State Government Websites

  • Bhanupriya Rao is the founder of Behanbox. She is a researcher and advocate on gender and just governance.

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