Women Reservation Bill in India: Passed by Rajyasabha on 21st September
The passage of the women’s reservation bill in the Rajya Sabha made history. Almost three decades after it was first tabled in Parliament, it is a welcome move that can finally shatter a political glass ceiling. All 214 MPs of Rajya Sabha passed the Women’s Reservation Bill with full consent. Earlier on Wednesday, the Women’s Reservation Bill was also passed in the Lok Sabha. Only 2 votes were cast against it in the Lok Sabha while 454 MPs supported the bill.
It is laudatory that the first Bill to be introduced in the new Sansad Bhavan has been passed in the Lok Sabha. But its implementation will be delayed as it has been tied to two factors, delimitation and the Census, and therein lies the rub. It is unfortunate that implementation is being linked to delimitation.
Women reservation Bill in India: Important Points
- The 128th Constitution Amendment Bill or Women Reservation Bill or Nari shakti vandan Adhiniyam reserves, as nearly as may be, one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- This reservation is for 15 years, which can be extended further.
- The Bill also provides that approximately one-third of the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be set aside for women. At present 131 seats in Lok Sabha are reserved for SC-ST. After the Women’s Reservation Bill becomes law, 43 of these seats will be reserved for SC-ST women.
- The reservation will be effective after the census conducted after the commencement of this Bill has been published. Based on the census, delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women.
However, the Women Reservation Bill will not be implemented before the General Elections 2029 because it has been linked to the Census and Delimitation. And there is so little time left before the elections in 2024. So it is not possible to do any planning before that. Therefore, it is hoped that it will be implemented till the General Elections in 2029.
Women Reservation Bill in India: Why Reservation is Necessary?
Despite women constituting almost half of the country’s population, their participation in Parliament is only 15% and only 10% in state legislatures, which is quite worrying from the point of view of the country and women empowerment. The lack of better political representation for women in India, a country that has given right to vote to women since the beginning, is troubling in itself. This gender inequality in political representation is stark and disturbing.
It is true that the representation of women in local institutions is much better than at the central and state level. In many states, the share of women in Panchayati Raj institutions is much above 50 percent.
Decrease in participation of women in politics is not only a problem of India, but there are only 26 countries in the world where women are serving as heads of state or central government. Recently, in the G20 summit held in New Delhi, we have also seen that the political participation of women is less even in the world’s largest economic country.
Inside Story behind Women Reservation Bill in India
The journey of the Women’s Reservation Bill begins in the early 1990 when India took its first steps towards political empowerment for women. The Constitution was amended in 1992 to reserve seats for women in panchayats and municipalities. Subsequently, the Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill, 1996 and subsequent Bills sought to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures for women.
However, these early efforts faced obstacles and ultimately failed for various reasons, including lack of consensus among political parties. The most recent attempt was made in 2008 when the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha but was lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.