Recently, the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill 2023’, which provides one-third of the total seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures (only for Delhi in the Union Territories), was unanimously passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha as per the 128th Constitutional Amendment.
Why reservation for women is necessary?
The promotion of women in politics is essential for gender equality. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, India ranks 48th out of 146 countries in the world in terms of empowerment of women in politics with a score of 0.267. By this, we can understand the condition of India.
Similarly, according to UN Women’s data on women’s representation, Rwanda (61%), Cuba (53%), Nicaragua (52%), Mexico (50%), New Zealand (50%), and the United Arab Emirates ( It is a sad state that only six countries have given more than 50 percent seats in parliament to women.
In the case of India, the number of women MPs in the first Lok Sabha (1952) was just 5%, and this number has only increased to 14.94% (as per 2022 data) in the current 17th Lok Sabha. This is very low growth. Similarly, the presence of women in state assemblies is just 8 percent on average. And it confirms that even though there are almost as many women as men as per the census, women are very much underrepresented in politics.
So only by giving reservation to women in politics can we empower them at various levels and encourage them to participate in politics in larger numbers. So reservation is essential for women to assume leadership roles in politics as in other fields.
The paths traveled by the Women’s Reservation Bill so far!
Sarojini Naidu and Begum Shah Nawaz, women leaders of the Indian National Movement, advised the then British Prime Minister through a letter that reservations should be made for women for the first time in India in 1931.
- Later after independence, the 81st Amendment Bill to the Constitution of India, the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996 to provide 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies. The bill was then referred to a joint parliamentary committee. But the bill lapsed after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
- In 1998, the bill was reintroduced in the 12th Lok Sabha. Again it failed to gain support and was deprecated.
- The bill was introduced by the NDA government in the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999 and then again twice in 2003.
- In 2004, the UPA government introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha. In 2008, the bill was again blocked from expiring. But it lapsed when the Lok Sabha was dissolved.
- Although the bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010, it lapsed in the Lok Sabha.
- Following this, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 September 2023, as a historic event and was successfully passed in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
Features and Restrictions mentioned in the Bill:
- Reservation in Lok Sabha – This Bill will be amended by adding Article 330A under Article 330 which provides reservation for SC/ST seats. It has also been said that the seats thus reserved for women in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies may be allotted on a rotational basis on the basis of different constituencies. However, they have not given any explanation as to how the elections will be held in the rotational system and reservations will be made.
- Reservation in State Legislatures – The Bill introduces Article 332A which mandates reservation for women in every State Legislature.
- In the Union Territory of Delhi – Article 239AA(2)(b) has been amended to make laws made by Parliament applicable to the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- It is to be noted that this reservation will be given to women only for 15 years.
- Within this 33% reservation, it is said that there will be reservations for SC and ST categories as well. It does not mention reservations for OBCs.
- Also, the reservation for women reserved only for the Lok Sabha and state legislatures, which does not apply to the Rajya Sabha, which has a small number of women, has drawn much criticism among political leaders.
- Similarly, eventhough this bill has been passed in Parliament, it is still difficult to implement. The Bill can be passed into law only if demarcation for women (as per the newly added Article 334A of the Constitution) is completed. For that it is necessary to start a So it is roughly predicted that it may take up to 2029 to implement.