Will Women's Reservation Bill Turn Tables For Female Representation In Politics?

The Women's Reservation Bill, introduced in Parliament, seeks to reserve 1/3 of seats for women in Lok Sabha, Delhi Assembly, and state legislatures. It was passed in the Lok Sabha on September 20 with near unanimity

Harnur Watta
19 Sep 2023 Updated On Sep 21, 2023 09:24 IST
Image credits: The Hindu

Image credits: The Hindu

The Women's Reservation Bill has recently made headlines as it seeks to usher in a new era of gender equality and empowerment in the Indian political landscape. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal as the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, this legislation proposes to guarantee a 33% quota for women in both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. 


The Lok Sabha on September 20 passed the Bill with near unanimity to amend the Constitution and provide one-third reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.  

The Bill will now be taken by the Rajya Sabha for passage in the remaining two days of the Special Session of Parliament and might require approval from half of the States

In a nation where female representation in Parliament has been historically limited, this bill represents a beacon of hope for change.


Historical Underrepresentation

The journey towards greater female representation in India's political sphere has been marked by challenges and persistent underrepresentation.

For decades, India has grappled with the issue of inadequate female representation in its legislative bodies. 


Women, constituting nearly half of the country's population, have consistently occupied a fraction of parliamentary seats

This stark underrepresentation has raised concerns about the lack of diverse perspectives and the failure to address issues that disproportionately affect women. 

The lack of female representation is very evident in the recent group photo of the parliament.


The Women's Reservation Bill aims to rectify this historical imbalance by mandating that one-third of the total seats in the Lok Sabha be reserved for women.


This move reflects a growing recognition of the need for diverse voices and perspectives in the national legislature.

Expanding the Horizon

The reach of this landmark bill extends beyond the Lok Sabha. It encompasses the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, ensuring that one-third of the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are also reserved for women. 


Furthermore, the provisions of the bill are not confined to the national level. It casts a wide net by applying to the legislative assemblies of all Indian states, including those for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

Furthermore, it allocates one-third of the total number of seats filled by direct election in the Delhi Assembly, including those reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Castes, for women. 

This comprehensive approach intends to create a robust framework for female representation at all levels of government.


Susan Thomas, a civil servant, poignantly pointed out in an Instagram post, “From ujwala scheme to toilets to potable water, womenomics has been a major area of impetus in recent times. Naysayers may have a 100 reasons yet there is no empowerment till we have more women in power, serious business of policy and decision making.”

The Timing and Delimitation

The bill specifies a crucial timeline for its implementation. 

The bill specifies that the provisions related to the reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and the Delhi Assembly will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is conducted.

This exercise is critical as it ensures that constituencies are redrawn based on the latest census data. 

The bill underscores that these provisions will cease to have effect after fifteen years from the commencement of the Constitution (128th) Act, 2023. This ensures that the dynamics of female representation remain dynamic and adaptable to evolving demographics.

Ensuring Continuity

One of the unique aspects of the Women's Reservation Bill is its provision for the rotation of reserved seats. 

After each subsequent delimitation exercise, the Parliament will have the authority to determine the rotation of these seats. 

This measure is vital as it prevents the entrenchment of a static female representation pattern. It allows fresh faces and new perspectives to enter the political arena regularly, promoting a dynamic and evolving legislative landscape.

The Women's Reservation Bill signifies a pivotal moment in India's journey towards achieving gender equality and addressing historical disparities in female representation

By mandating a 33% quota for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, extending its provisions to Delhi, and including all states, this bill casts a wide net to ensure inclusivity. 

Its careful consideration of timing, delimitation, and seat rotation underscores its commitment to adaptability and fairness. As the bill makes its way through the legislative process, it carries with it the hopes and aspirations of millions of Indian women who yearn for a stronger voice in the nation's future. 

It is a stride towards a more equitable and diverse democracy, where the voices of women are not just heard but also heeded.

Views expressed by the author are their own.

Suggested Reading: Tracking The Women's Reservation Bill History: 10 Things To Know


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