Women Reservation Bill: What You Should Know!

The Women Reservation Bill, also known as the 108th Amendment of 2008 to the Constitution, advocates for the allocation of one-third (33%) of seats in state legislative assemblies and Parliament to women.

This landmark legislation not only promotes gender equality but also incorporates sub-reservations to ensure representation for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Anglo-Indians within the overarching 33% quota.

Women Reservation BIll
Women Reservation BIll

Additionally, the Women Reservation Bill allows for the possibility of implementing a rotational allocation system for reserved seats in various state constituencies and union territories.

It’s worth noting that as per the approved law, the seats designated for women will be gradually phased out over a period of 15 years from the commencement of the amendment act.

Women Reservation Bill

In recent developments, there’s a concerted effort within the BJP as multiple ministers and MPs are rallying to bring more female voters into Parliament in the days ahead.

This initiative gained momentum when BJP President JP Nadda convened meetings on Monday with various party members to strategize. A key rallying point for this campaign is the long-awaited Women Reservation Bill, advocating for a substantial 33% quota for women in both the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.

This critical issue has also made its mark on the Congress Working Committee’s agenda, as they adopted a resolution echoing this sentiment during their recent gathering in Hyderabad on Sunday.

InitiativeBJP’s Effort to Mobilize Female Voters for Parliament
Key ParticipantsSeveral BJP Ministers and MPs
Recent MeetingBJP President JP Nadda held meetings with party members on Monday
Central CauseAdvocacy for the Women Reservation Bill
Bill’s ObjectiveSecure a 33% Quota for Women in Lok Sabha and State Legislatures
Congress InvolvementThe Congress Working Committee adopted a resolution on the Women Reservation Bill during a meeting in Hyderabad on Sunday
Bill’s Legislative HistoryOriginated in September 1996 during the H. D. Deve Gowda-led administration; Various governments have attempted to pass it; UPA succeeded in Rajya Sabha in 2010
ChallengesLack of Political Will and Consensus have hindered the bill’s comprehensive enactment into law

The journey of the Women Reservation Bill through the legislative maze spans nearly three decades, tracing its origins back to September 1996 when it was first tabled in Parliament under the leadership of the H. D. Deve Gowda-led administration.

Subsequently, almost every successive government has made efforts to advance this bill. A notable milestone was achieved when the UPA government successfully secured Rajya Sabha approval for the bill in 2010.

However, the bill’s full-fledged enactment into law has remained an elusive goal, primarily due to the challenges of garnering sufficient political will and consensus.

Women’s Reservation Bill: Key Points

Proponents’ ArgumentAffirmative action through reservations is necessary to empower women, as indicated by recent research in panchayat elections, which shows increased empowerment and resource allocation.
Opponents’ ArgumentReservations may perpetuate women’s inequality by bypassing merit-based competition, potentially diverting attention from pressing electoral reforms like addressing criminalization of politics and enhancing inner-party democracy.
Limitation of Voter ChoiceReserving Parliament seats exclusively for women can limit voter choice, prompting suggestions for alternative solutions like political party reservations and dual-member constituencies.
Impact on MP MotivationRotating reserved seats in every election might diminish an MP’s motivation to effectively serve their constituency, given the uncertainty of re-election prospects.
Additional Reservation SuggestionsThe 1996 Women’s Reservation Bill report recommended extending reservations to include OBC women and proposed expanding reservations to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, which are not included in the current Bill.

Why Women Reservation Bill is hard To Pass

The existing electoral system, utilizing the single transferable vote method, presents a significant challenge to the successful enactment of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

This voting technique allocates votes to preferred candidates, posing obstacles to the reservation of seats for specific groups.

At present, there are no reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Rajya Sabha. Any effort to introduce such reservations would necessitate constitutional amendments to modify the voting process.

WRB importance

Historical ContextWomen have historically faced societal restrictions and discrimination.
Caste ConsiderationsAny plan for women’s reservation must adhere to constitutional principles and consider the diversity within caste groups.
Importance of Gender QuotaThe inclusion of a gender quota is crucial to prevent minimal women’s representation, which could undermine our democracy.
Panchayat Research FindingsRecent research on panchayats highlights the positive impact of reservations on resource distribution and women’s empowerment.
Challenges in Women’s AuthorityDespite an increase in women’s voting participation, there remains a significant disparity in women’s representation in positions of authority.

What is Women’s Reservations in India?

  1. Gujarat’s Gender Gap: In Gujarat’s 182-member parliament, women accounted for a mere 8% of the total candidates.
  2. Himachal Pradesh’s Disparity: Despite women constituting half of the voters in Himachal Pradesh, the elected representatives tell a different story, with 67 men and just one woman making it to office.
  3. National Gender Ratio: At the national level, the representation of women in state legislatures stands at a mere 8%, highlighting the persisting gender gap in political representation.
  4. Global Standing: According to a survey conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India’s ranking in terms of women’s representation in parliament is 144th among 193 nations, underscoring the need for greater gender inclusivity in political leadership.
State/AspectGujaratHimachal Pradesh
Percentage of Women Candidates8%
Number of Women Elected1
National Average for Women in State Legislatures8%8%
Global Ranking for Women’s Representation in Parliament144th out of 193 nations144th out of 193 nations

Parliament fail to pass the WRB?

Contentious Debates and Gender Bias: The Women Reservation Bill (WRB) has been at the center of heated discussions marked by sexist taunts, shedding light on the deep-seated controversy and gender discrimination surrounding this legislative initiative.

Unrealized Quota Within WRB: The 1996 committee proposed a quota within the Women Reservation Bill to accommodate OBC women, yet this recommendation has remained unimplemented. Opponents argue that this oversight may hinder the bill’s effectiveness in addressing the needs of these women.

Uneven Political Commitment: Interestingly, only the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal have taken the proactive step of reserving seats for female candidates in elections, highlighting disparities in political commitment to promoting gender diversity.

Diverting Focus: Detractors of the Women Reservation Bill contend that it diverts attention away from more pressing electoral reform concerns, such as tackling the criminalization of politics and bolstering party democracy, potentially shifting the focus from critical issues.

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