The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 or the Women’s reservation Bill commonly called as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam was passed in both the houses of the parliament.
Highlights of the bill
Reservation Percentage: The bill proposes to reserve one-third (33.33%) of the total seats in the Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies for women and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
Horizontal reservation: 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. The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.
Seats on rotational basis: The seats reserved for women will be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory after each delimitation exercise. The reservation is proposed to be implemented after a new Census is published and the delimitation exercise is completed.
Duration of reservation: Reserved seats may be Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.
The Bill aims to increase the number of women MPs to 181 from the current 82 and women MLAs to more than 2,000 from the current 740.
Facts about women representation in politics in India
Women representation is around 15 per cent in the Lok Sabha and 12 per cent in the Rajya Sabha.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India ranks 148th out of 193 countries in terms of women’s representation while the global average is 26.5 per cent.
Women’s representation in state assemblies is also dismal, ranging from 3.1 per cent in Nagaland to 23.1 per cent in Bihar.
At present, there are a total of 102 women parliamentarians. (78 from Loksabha and 24 from Rajya Sabha).
Significance of the bill
It will empower women and promote gender equality in society.
It will create a conducive environment for women to voice their concerns and demand their rights.
It will inspire more women to enter public life, take on leadership roles and challenge the patriarchal norms and stereotypes that limit their potential.
The Bill will improve the quality and effectiveness of governance and policymaking in India.
Studies have shown that women legislators tend to be more responsive, accountable, honest, and collaborative than their male counterparts.
They also tend to focus more on issues related to health, education, welfare, environment, and social justice, which are crucial for human development.
By increasing the number of women in Parliament and assemblies, the Bill expects that the policies and laws will be more inclusive, progressive, and beneficial for all sections of society.
The Bill will create divisions among women based on caste, religion, region, and class.
Without a sub quota for reservation for women from backward classes and minorities, the Bill will benefit only upper-caste and urban women at the expense of lower-caste and rural women.
It will further fragment society along communal lines and undermine unity and solidarity among women.
It may reduce the merit and competence of legislators.
By reserving seats for women based on gender alone, the Bill may compromise the quality and efficiency of governance.
In some instances, women may be nominated by male relatives or patrons who will influence their decisions.
By reserving seats for women by rotation, the Bill may create instability and uncertainty in the electoral process. This may affect the continuity and accountability of legislators who will have to change their constituencies frequently.