Amethi MP Smriti Irani was among the six women ministers to take oath in the newly-formed government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. The number of women ministers in this government is lower than the last time, even though the number of women elected in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is the highest ever. There were eight women ministers in the last government.
Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Nirmala Sitharaman also took oath as Union ministers, besides Irani. The 43-year-old Amethi MP, who was the "giant slayer" in the Lok Sabha polls as she scripted a historic win over Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the latter's family bastion, took oath as Union minister along with 57 others.
Badal (52), from BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), won the polls from Bathinda. Sitharaman (59), who was the first woman to be appointed a full-time defence minister of the country, also took oath as Union minister.
Fatehpur MP Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (52) took oath as minister of state, along with new entrants Renuka Singh Saruta (55), the MP from Chhattisgarh's Sarguja, and Debashree Chaudhuri (48), the MP from Raiganj in West Bengal. Their portfolios are yet to be announced.
Among the women ministers in the previous government, Sushma Swaraj (external affairs), Uma Bharti (drinking water and sanitation), Maneka Gandhi (women and child development) and Anupriya Patel (MoS, health and family welfare) are not part of the new council of ministers.
The average age of women MPs this time is 51 years with Irani being the youngest woman minister and Sitharaman the oldest. Sitharaman, Swaraj and Bharti did not contest the Lok Sabha polls. Gandhi, Badal, Irani and Jyoti won from their respective constituencies. The number of women elected in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is the highest ever.
Of the 542 MPs who will take oath as members of the Lower House in the next few days, 78 are women with Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal leading with 11 each. A total of 724 women candidates contested the polls across the country with the Congress fielding the maximum of 54, closely followed by the BJP at 53.
With over 14 per cent female members, the 17th Lok Sabha will have the highest number of women since 1952. The 16th Lok Sabha had 64 women, while 52 were elected to the 15th Lok Sabha.