Reservation for women in politics

reservation for women in politics

Context: Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Parliament for providing 33% reservation of women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

What is Women Reservation Bill ?

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
  • Features:
  • The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.
  • One third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies.
  • Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

Time line

  •  For the first time in 1996 ,it was introduced in the Lok Sabha as the 81st Amendment Bill by the then Deve Gowda led United front government . Bill failed to get approval in the house and was referred to a joint parliamentary committee. JPC submitted its report, however bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • In 1998 , the bill was again introduced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government, but in absence of required support it again lapsed.
  • The Bill was subsequently reintroduced in 1999, 2002 and 2003, but failed to pass due to lack of majority.
  • In 2008, bill was again introduced as 108th constitution Amendment Bill. It was passed in Rajya Sabha but eventually lapsed after dissolution of the 15th Lok sabha.
  • Despite the promises made in election manifesto of 2014 as well as 2019 , there is no development in this regard as such.

How many women are in Parliament?

About 14% of the members in Indian Parliament are women, the highest so far. According to the Inter­ Parliamentary Union, India has a fewer percentage of women in the lower House than its neighbours such as Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — a dismal record.

Arguments in favour of the Bill

  • Affirmative action is imperative to better the condition of women since our society in general and political parties in particular are inherently patriarchal.
  • Despite the belief of the constituent assembly that every section would be represented proportionally, women are still under represented in Parliament.
  • Reservation to women would ensure a strong lobby arguing for issues that are being conveniently ignored.
  • Reservation at panchayat level have shown positive results, despite being termed as rubber stamp (*in some cases) , women’s are more likely to invest in goods which are crucial for women and children.
  • The prevalent social tribulations like crime against women, skewed sex ratio, low LFPR and poor health indices require more women in the roles of policy and decision making.

Arguments against the Bill

  • Opponents argue that it would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to be competing on merit.
  • They also contend that this policy diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as criminalisation of politics and inner party democracy.
  • Reservation of seats in Parliament restricts choice of voters to women candidates.
  • Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.
  • Women’s interests cannot be isolated from other social, economic and political strata.

To Conclude

  • To start with, some proponent suggest that reservation should be provided for women in political parties.
  • Some has also suggested to have dual member constituencies (where constituencies will have two MPs, one of them being a woman).
  • Until and unless women are not a part of the policy making process, they cannot raise their voice for fellow women. This would result in a vicious cycle with this debate continuing for centuries. So, this is high time to finish this visible and unsaid inequality. Democracy cannot live a long life in an unequal society.

One thought on “Reservation for women in politics

  1. We need an attitudinal shift towards fair treatment and fearlessness / encouragement to voice one’s views uninfluenced by pleasing to win, lest reservations which tend to segregate and separate, are perpetuated. Performances are better on own merit if that could be recognised and appreciated. Views circulated and voted upon would show popularity/ assessment/ and direction / their progressiveness and after that the ballot.
    We are laying foundations for future. Reservations do get perpetuated and breed subtle violence in society which erupts destroying the social fabric. Opportunities are better focused upon to bring them up in all strata – this is where rule based / where all get to learn / skilling, applies whether talk of women or underprivileged who acquire an interest in remaining underprivileged. If for a period reservations are initiated the long term implications need be borne in mind and suitably addressed.

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