New Delhi, September 23, 2023 – In a historic move towards gender equality and enhancing women’s participation in Indian politics, Lok Sabha has given its approval to the Women Reservation Bill, officially known as “The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023.” This transformative bill aims to allocate 33 percent of seats in both the Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies to women, a monumental milestone in Indian politics.
Why This Matters:
The Women Reservation Bill, a topic of discussion since the mid-1990s, finally sees the light of day. This significant development highlights the pressing need for greater female representation in politics.
What the Bill Does:
The bill seeks to reserve one-third of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats for women, including those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. To implement this, it introduces two new constitutional articles: articles 330A and 332A.
Duration of Reservation:
The bill stipulates that this reservation will be in effect for 15 years from its commencement, underscoring its significance for the present era.
Why It’s Important:
The notion of women receiving equitable opportunities in politics is not new and dates back to pre-independence India. Several key milestones in this journey include:
- In 1955, a proposal suggested reserving 10% of Lok Sabha and State Assembly seats for women, sparking discussions.
- In 1988, a plan advocated for 30% representation of women in all elected bodies.
- In 1993, the Panchayati Raj Act reserved 33% of local government seats for women.
- In 2010, the Women’s Reservation Bill received approval from the Rajya Sabha, nearly 15 years after its initial proposal in 1996.
Challenges to Implementation:
Bringing this vision to fruition poses its own set of challenges:
- The bill is contingent on the delimitation process, which may experience delays due to the postponed 2021 Census results.
- The selection criteria for seats allocated to women remain unspecified, necessitating the enactment of additional legislation.
- Implementation will require constitutional amendments (Articles 82 and 170(3)).
Obstacles Faced by Women in Politics:
Women aspiring to enter politics encounter various obstacles:
- Limited opportunities from political parties.
- Perceptions that women are less electable leading to underrepresentation.
- Balancing extensive campaigning with familial responsibilities.
- Coping with insults, abuse, and threats.
- Financial constraints and limited party support.
- Traditional gender role expectations discouraging political involvement.
Significance of Women in Politics:
Women’s participation in government signifies progress toward gender parity in politics. Their unique perspectives and commitment to fairness benefit society as a whole.
Urgent Need for Change:
The Women Reservation Bill is a long-overdue step toward empowering women in India’s political landscape. It aligns with India’s aspirations to lead globally, emphasizing the importance of women’s voices in politics.
The bill now awaits approval from the Rajya Sabha. The nation eagerly anticipates whether this will pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive political system that truly represents India’s diverse population.