The Women's Reservation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the house's special session on September 19 in the new Parliament building. Introduced as the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, the bill seeks to ensure a 33% quota of seats are reserved for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
However, the legislation will come into effect after the next delimitation exercise, which might be conducted after the first census to be taken after 2026, according to India Today.
Here are five things to know about the Women's Reservation Bill at Parliament
1. Representation of Women
The bill mandates that one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha, the 'house of commons' of the Indian Parliament, be reserved for women. This reservation also extends to state legislative assemblies and the legislative assembly of New Delhi.
Similar to the Lok Sabha and Delhi Assembly provisions, one-third of the total seats reserved under the applicable clause shall be reserved for women, including those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, it said.
The bill states that the provisions related to the reservation of seats for women in parliament will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is conducted. It states “Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provision of this Part or Part VIII, the provisions of the Constitution relating to the reservation of seats for women in the House of the People, the Legislative Assembly of a State and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall come into effect after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken for this purpose after the relevant figures for the first census taken after commencement of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Act, 2023 have been published and shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of fifteen years from such commencement.”
According to LiveMint, in the present Lok Sabha, 82 women members were elected which accounts for less than 15 per cent of the total strength of 543. In Rajya Sabha too, women's representation is about 14 per cent, as per the data shared by the government with Parliament last December.
4. PM's Cabinet Assent
On September 18, the Union Cabinet reportedly passed the Women's Reservation Bill, giving us hope that women may be fairly represented in government soon.
In the first session of the new Parliament building, Modi said that the bill was given approval in the Cabinet meeting on Monday, and asserted that this will strengthen democracy.
"Taking forward women-led development, the government is presenting an important constitutional amendment bill. The aim of the bill is to expand the participation of women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. Through the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam', our democracy will be strengthened," he said.
If the bill is passed, not only would it mean wider representation for women in the Indian government (both on central and local levels). It would also pave the way for a better future for the country in terms of gender equality.
Suggested Reading: Women in Parliament: Representation or Underrepresentation?